Young girls and women around the world made so much progress in 2016. There has never been a time more important than now to use our voices, and stand up for what we believe. Legislation was passed to protect certain human rights, world records were broken, the largest global event for the health and rights of women and girls took place, girls and women gained representation across all media. It was an incredible year.
Here’s our list of 16 noteworthy moments for global moms and kids in 2016.
1. Countries Ban Child Marriage
In a landmark ruling on January 20th, Zimbabwe banned child marriage, raising the minimum age at which both men and women can marry to 18. The United States Department of State declared in March 2016 that child marriage, or marriage in which one or both parties is under age 18, is a “human rights abuse” that “produces devastating repercussions for a girl’s life, effectively ending her childhood.” Other countries that took action on the issue in 2016 included Tanzania, Gambia, and Kyrgyzstan. Ending child marriage, or even just significantly reducing it, will only be feasible when these laws are implemented and upheld.
2. Human Kind: Searching For Home Brings Insight Into Refugee Life
Save the Children and Johnson & Johnson created a series of virtual reality videos in partnership with Facebook to showcase the lives of families in the Templehof refugee camp – a former airport in Berlin, Germany. The videos tell the stories behind the staggering statistics of the current refugee crisis. You can find the full series on Johnson & Johnson’s Facebook page.
3. 2016 Olympics Saw More Mom World Athletes
On the USA team alone, there were ten mothers this past year in the 2016 Olympics. From Nia Ali, who competed in the 100-meter hurdles event, to cycling star Kristin Armstrong to Rugby player Kelly Griffin to beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, the list included gold medal winners and champions, all stereotype-shattering women. Mom Ida Keeling broke a world record too, in the 100-meter dash — at age 100!
4. Women Deliver Conference and Closing the Gender Data Gap
Women Deliver’s conference in Copenhagen convened over 6,000 clinicians, advocates, policymakers, and businesspeople involved in global health issues for women and girls in May. Happening every three years, it’s the largest global event for the health and rights of women and girls and tackles issues such as closing the gender gap, polio, preventing mothers dying from childbirth and pregnancy complications and other major issues. Global Moms Challenge was proud to attend and see the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announce significant commitments to gender data research.
5. Global Moms Relay
In celebration of Mother’s Day, hundreds of advocates, experts and every day moms and dads gathered at the New York Times Center in New York City on May 5th to share ideas, exchange best practices and inspire action to create a better future for moms and children around the world, and to launch a 6-week digital relay. $500,000 was donated by Johnson & Johnson to support our five campaign partners: Shot@Life, Girl Up, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Peace Corps, Let Girls Learn Fund, and Nothing But Nets.
6. Women and Girls Represented in Emojis
72% of girls feel that society limits them, by dictating what they should and shouldn’t do. In March, the feminine products company Always published a video of girls’ talking about how emojis don’t represent them. Shortly after, Google and the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee approved 11 of the search giant’s 13 original emojis showcasing diverse women working in a variety of fields, amounting to over 100 options to choose from. There is now a female nurse, graduate student, professor, chef and a young girl using the computer. In addition, a breastfeeding emoji is in the works.
7. Women as Heads of Countries
Theresa Mary May was elected as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party in July, the second female in power after Margaret Thatcher. She led the “Theresa May for Equal Pay” campaign in 2008 and was involved in the first Girl Summit in 2014 which announced positive measures to help survivors of Female Genital Mutilation. Other countries also appointed women for the top job in 2016, including the Marshall Islands, Turks and Caicos, Estonia, Taiwan and the historic election of Myanmar’s Auun Sung Suu Ky as President.
8. Malala Advocates for Refugees
The Malala Fund has programs in Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and countries hosting Syrian refugees, where it starts schools, invests in educational institutions, and provides grants for girls. In July, Malala Yousafzai spent her 19th birthday in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps, the world’s largest, aiming to draw attention to the global migrant crisis and the plight of those living in the Kenyan camp. As the situation continues to worsen in Syria, she has urged world leaders to set aside over $1 billion for educating Syrian children.
9. Emma Watson’s Work Promoting Gender Equality
Two years ago, Emma Watson launched HeforShe at the UN with a history-making speech calling for gender equality. As UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, she continued her focus. She visited Malawi in October to shine a global spotlight on the need to end child marriage and met with traditional chiefs and girls who have returned to school after having marriages annulled. She also advocated for equality at universities around the world and addressing the scourge of campus sexual assault.
10. Women’s Global Participation Increased
Liberia passed the Equal Representation and Participation Bill in September, creating five seats for female politicians, one for youths and one for people with disabilities in the nation’s lower house of parliament; Moldova now requires that women and men each represent at least 40% of every political party’s candidates and cabinet members; and Timor-Leste’s local elections must include women in elections – one in each village – moving forward.
11. We Will Rise
More than 62 million girls around the world are not in school. In CNN Films’ “We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World,” the First Lady, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN’s Isha Sesay took a journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they met young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives. The documentary, released in October, stressed the importance of girls’ education as their potential and contributions to society are what ultimately strengthen communities and nations.
12. Women in Iceland Protested Pay Gap
Even in Iceland, the country many experts consider the world’s leader in gender equity, the gender pay gap persists. Women employees make 14 to 18 percent less than men in Iceland — a discrepancy that unions and women’s organizations say means women effectively work for free after 2:38 p.m. On Monday, October 25th, in protest of the pay gap, thousands of Icelandic women decided to work the hours their pay merited — by leaving their workplaces promptly when the clock struck 2:38.
13. Oldest Woman in Space – Peggy Whitson
Peggy Whitson, a 56-year-old NASA astronaut, became the oldest woman In space. On November 19, after two days aboard a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, Whitson, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and rookie ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, docked at the International Space Station. This was the third ISS mission for the Iowa-born biochemist, who first went to space in 2002, and her second stint as commander.
14. Let’s Go Orange campaign
35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime, with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries. To combat these odds, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign planned “Orange the World” in December using the color orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence, culminating on Human Rights Day. Many countries took steps to address domestic violence in 2016 including Pakistan, China, Germany, El Salvador and Barbados.
15. UNICEF’s 70th Birthday: Supporting Children Around the World
December marked the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Children’s Fund, otherwise known as UNICEF. The UN agency is mandated to protect children’s rights. Today, the organization continues to work tirelessly in the world’s toughest places to bring life-saving aid and long-term support to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality and discrimination.
16. First Year of Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals
As we wrap up the first full year of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the seventeen goals are the north star for our aspirations and focus as we look to change the course of the 21st century. The goals address key challenges such as gender equality, poverty, inequality, and violence against women. Girls and women have a critical role to play in carrying out each one of them.
Take Action Challenge