No one could blame you for looking back on 2018 and thinking, “what the hell just happened?”
An inrush of sexual harassment and assault allegations across almost every sector, a spike in domestic violence cases, stories of workplace bullying and intimidation, certain politicians acting like sex-crazed, embarrassingly incompetent morons, little progress in terms of the gender pay gap, poor leadership and the list goes on.
Reflecting only on this, it would be easy to deduce that progress went backwards for women this year.
But in fairness, it wasn’t all bad. Below we share some of the greatest moments for women from 2018; some that will have far reaching, positive impacts in Australia and globally for years to come:
Women in Hollywood start the #TimesUp movement
Off the back of a tidal wave of #MeToo allegations in Hollywood, female actors joined forces to launch the wildly successful #TimesUp campaign on January 1st.
Dedicated to helping women fight cases of sexual misconduct and supporting them post event, #TimesUp exists as an anti-harassment plan and legal fund.
Celebrities involved backed the movement publicly by wearing all black to the Golden Globes, and by mid-February, the campaign’s legal defence fund had raised more than $20 million from 20,000 donors. More than 200 lawyers also volunteered their services to help victims.
Saudi Arabia allows women to attend soccer matches and drive cars
On January 12, women in the strict Sunni Islamic state of Saudi Arabia turned up in droves to watch their first ever public soccer match. The game was the first time a major sporting event was open to women in the kingdom and heartwarming images of women cheering wildly and waving flags infiltrated social media.
In June, another major reform was passed, allowing women to drive for the first time. Fadya Basma, one of the first female drivers for ride-sharing company Uber, described the moment as life changing for women: “It’s a wonderful day,” she said. “And it will change things. Saudi will never be the same again.”
Sadly, a number of women were incarcerated during the campaign to make this happen, and Saudi Arabia has since been accused of abusing a number of women’s rights activists.
The tampon tax is repealed by Australian Parliament
In early October, following an 18-year campaign, state and territory governments voted unanimously to remove the GST tax on tampons and sanitary products for women which had previously categorised them as ‘luxury items’.
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer said she was “delighted” that state and territory treasurers had agreed on “the right outcome”. “We’re really delighted that everyone’s come on board to scrap what is an unfair tax.”
Greens Senator Janet Rice who first lodged the bill said the “sexist tax has been in place far too long. Australians want this fixed, once and for all.”
The law will come into effect in January 2019.
The second annual Women’s March moves ahead
The shock of Donald Trump’s presidency still hasn’t worn off, and so for the second time ever, millions of women across the world took to the streets to rally against gender inequality.
Speaking at a rally in Los Angeles, Viola Davis said: “Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, but it is to fight for the right of every individual that is taking a breath, whose heart is pumping and breathing on this earth. I am speaking today not just for the ‘Me Toos,’ because I was a ‘Me Too,’ but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence.”
A record number of women run for congress and win
When the 116th congress convenes in January next year, women will make up nearly a quarter of its voting capacity– the highest percentage in American history.
This result follows the mid-term elections in which a record number of women ran and won; including America’s youngest woman to enter congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first Native American woman, Deb Haaland and the first Hispanic woman elected with Veronica Escobar.
Emma Gonzalez champions gun law reform with #NeverAgain movement
Days after another sickening school shooting in the US in which 17 people were killed, 18-year old Emma Gonzalez rose to become the face of gun-law reform in Florida. At a rally in which thousands showed up she declared: “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
Female pro surfers win their fight for equal pay
Following criticism over the disparity in prize money between male and female winners of a junior surfing tournament held in South Africa, the World Surf League soon-after announced an historic decision.
From next year onwards, female athletes will be paid the same prize money as their male counterparts across 180 global events. The decision making the World Surf League the first and only US-based global sports league to take such a leap.
“The WSL is a progressive, forward-thinking organisation. I think this just re-underlines that,” said WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt. “It is an important statement, and it is celebrating what is happening in society. It is a movement that has been needed and our female athletes deserve it.”
Donna Strickland wins the Nobel Prize in Physics
Canadian physicist Donna Strickland was jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics; making her the first woman in 55 years, and the third in history.
Kerryn Phelps wins seat of Wentworth at byelection
Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps secured former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s safe Liberal seat of Wentworth.
Wentworth had been held by the conservative side of politics since the seat was created and had never had a female representative.
During her victory speech, Phelps declared: “This win tonight should signal a return of decency, integrity and humanity to the Australian Government.”
Nadia Murad wins Nobel Peace Prize
The 25-year-old Yazidi woman who was abducted by ISIS in 2014, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for work to end sexual violence. She vowed to donate the $500,000 winnings to her charity, supporting and advocating for Iraqi women.
Ireland legalised abortion
By a landslide vote in May, Ireland repealed its near-total ban on abortion ending a long history of religious oppression.
Nearly two in three Irish voters voted to lift the ban in the constitution, defying opinion polls that indicated the election could come down to the wire.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, described the decision as a “quiet revolution”. “We are actually a nation that is united, and we want to make this change,” he said.
Historic NAIDOC week theme moves ahead: ‘Because of Her, We Can’:
In celebration of the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to their communities, families, and history of our nation, NAIDOC 2018 moved ahead with the powerful theme, ‘Because of Her, We Can.’
Trailblazers like Joyce Clague, Yalmay Yunupingu, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Nova Peris, Carol Martin, Elizabeth Morgan, Barbara Shaw, Rose Richards, Vonda Malone, Margaret Valadian, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Pat O’Shane, Pat Anderson Jill Milroy, Banduk Marika, Linda Burney and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks were all pivotal to the day.