Heroes, villains and victories – the women who shaped 2014

Source: The Guardian

By Bim Adewunmi 

The Malala award

Nominees: Malala Yousafzai, Mindy Kaling (who was briefly mistaken for her at a New York party).

Winner: Malala, by a landslide – for being awarded the Nobel peace prize at the age of 17 (the youngest ever recipient) but also crucially for the fact that she had to wait to give her “first statement after school”. Bless!

The #BringBackOurGirls campaign

The horrific abduction of 300 girls from their school in Chibok by terrorist group Boko Haram triggered an international outcry. On the ground in Nigeria, activists have not gone quiet: every day since 30 April, they have gathered in the capital to protest against the kidnap of the girls. 2015 is an election year for Nigeria, and the state of security in the northeastern regions will be an ongoing issue.

Activism’s female face

From Ferguson to New York and across the US, thousands marched for justice following the killings of unarmed black men and women by police. And they were largely organised and led by young women: the Millions March NYC was set up by Umaara Elliott and Synead Nichols. Harriet Wistrich won Liberty’s Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award for her work showing police failures concerning the women attacked by a London taxi driver. More young feminists with amazing 2014 success can be found here.

The many battles of the feminist PR war

Beyoncé stood in front of a giant FEMINIST sign at the VMAs, inspiring miles of tenuous think-piece and column inches; Emma Watson gave a speech as part of the He For She campaign at the UN in New York; Harriet Harman wore her Fawcett Society “This is what a feminist looks like” T-shirt to prime minster’s questions (a not-at-all subtle dig at David Cameron); and the media managed to ask every semi-famous woman about her thoughts on feminism. On balance, the feminist PR war was largely won, and with only minimal bloodletting.

Heroines of science and health

Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal in Mathematics; space scientist Professor Monica Grady celebrated with the rest of the Rosetta mission when Philae landed on a comet, 10 years after launch. In Nigeria, hero doctor Stella Ameyo Adadevoh led a team that shut down the spread of Ebola in the most populous country in Africa, and died from the virus after exposure.

Most excellent image of women in the workplace

In September, India sent up the Mangalyaan satellite to orbit Mars, making it only the fourth nation to do so. The photo that marked the accomplishment was striking: a command control room showing six women in saris smiling and excitedly embracing one another in the foreground. Whether in purple or red or pink or blue, this is what a scientist (can) look(s) like.


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Categories: Europe, UK, Women, World

1 reply

  1. Malala status is highly controversial and disputed after she miraculous escaped an alleged certain death and treated exceptionally and finally awarded the most politicised award.

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