women's-rights-movement

The Women’s Rights Movement in 2015: New Year, New Agenda?

Will 2015 be a year of celebration for the women’s rights movement? Image from Pixabay.

It’s the beginning of a new year for many people around the world, and the shift from 2014 to 2015 has provoked the usual rounds of soul-searching and list-making, both of which may have left you bored to tears. The Internet would like for all of us to conclude that 2014 was either the world’s best year or its absolute worst, and, in either case, 2015 has a lot to live up to.

But, yet again, the truth of this is open for rampant debate and will depend on the topic(s) of greatest interest to you. In our case, and in our list, this topic is women’s rights.

From our perspective at Go Girl Travel Network, 2014 was a pretty busy year for women around the world. From ongoing debates about the autonomy of cis women’s bodies in the United States to the constitutional recognition of women’s rights in Tunisia, we’ve been both the subjects of liberation and the targets of ongoing violence. Trans women have seen an increased level of recognition in international settings as well, although their inclusion in the category “women” is, somehow, still being debated.

Women of all bodies have many things to celebrate, however, including:

–The passage of measures in Kosovo (April) and Uganda (May) that provide financial and logistical compensation to survivors of wartime sexual and gender-based violence. In Kosovo in particular, the new legislation provides coordinated compensation in the forms of employment, housing, and medical care.

–The repealing of Morocco’s rape marriage law in January, which forced victims of rape (primarily women) to marry their rapists (presumed male).

–The ratification in August of the Istanbul Convention by the requisite 10 countries. This forces the signatories to take concrete steps to address issues of gender-based violence in their populaces. The signatories include (but are not limited to) Austria, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.

–The legal recognition by India of trans folk, to include the option on federal documentation such as birth certificates and passports.

–The repeal of Malaysia’s law against cross-dressing.

women's-rights-movement

The repeal of Morocco’s rape marriage law is one of the many things that women have to celebrate from 2014. Image from aljazeera.com.

Not everything was perfect for women around the world

As many bloggers noted after Emma Watson’s September UN speech on gender equality, “feminism” has often been a word (and a movement) that has marginalized large numbers of women and the various additional forms of discrimination that they face. For many, Emma’s words did nothing to address the historical links between feminism and colonialism, racism, and transphobia.

Also in the “imperfect” category: ongoing battles about abortion and contraception rights in the United States, a continuing sexual assault epidemic in India, and no change in the level of street harassment in any part of the world.

But let’s not get lost in the past! After all, we have a full 12 months of new year to look forward to.

What we need to address in 2015

While most of the anticipated women’s rights agenda for 2015 seems to be focused on the Women’s World Cup and whether it will be played on AstroTurf or real sod, I think we can generate a proper list of things to address in the coming months:

women's-rights-movement

Malala Yousafzai is only one of the many voices capable of demanding improved education access for girls around the globe. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

–Ensuring that more nations engage in the Istanbul Convention and that those that have signed on are actually living up to their promises.

–Eliminating the gender-based violence experienced by women — especially trans women — in prisons.

–Encouraging female political candidates to make gender a central feature of their campaigns instead of pretending that being female has nothing to do with political discourse.

–Writing policies for health care and employment leave that recognize the specific socio-political needs of women, cis or otherwise.

–Creating a standalone action plan for women in the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.

–Streamline reporting, investigating, and prosecution procedures for cases of gender-based violence.

–Increasing funding for education programs around the world that focus on providing education to girls.

It may sound like a large agenda, but from where I stand it’s a pretty manageable one. After all, if we can make less than 50% of the global population be the priority for every other agenda that exists, why not for women?

Happy New Year, everyone, and may your efforts for a brighter future be fruitful!

What would you like to see accomplished in 2015 in regards to women’s rights? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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