12 victories on gender equality in 2021


Re-engagement on gender equality only became necessary in 2021, as progress continued to slow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global public health crisis has added 36 years to the time it will take to close the gender gap, which means it will now take around 13.5 years for women and men to achieve parity. The weak economic growth in all countries is mainly to blame.

As women and girls continue to bear the brunt of unpaid care and domestic work and continue to be ignored for leadership roles, gender inequality persists. Women’s employment rates have fallen, and rates of domestic violence and legal discrimination are steadily rising in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Nigeria.

But that hasn’t stopped global citizens, activists and lawmakers from persevering to ensure the defense and improvement of the rights of women and girls. Governments have consistently banned harmful practices like child marriage, leaders have eliminated the discriminatory tax on tampons, and women leaders have won historic elections.

Here is a list of 12 celebratory moments for women and girls in 2021 that remind us to continue the fight to achieve gender equality around the world.

1. The Tokyo Olympics became the most gender-equal games in history.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken several steps to promote gender equality in all events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July. Changes to the highly anticipated event included requirements for teams to have equal gender representation, 4% more female athletes than at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, new competition categories for women and double the number of mixed events. IOC has also strived to improve representation within the organization.

Many praised the efforts, while others noted that women still have several obstacles to overcome, from funding gaps to less media coverage.

2. Two US states have banned child marriage

Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed a bill in June to ban children under 18 from marrying. Before the legislation, children as young as 16 could obtain marriage licenses with the permission of a parent or guardian. Children under 16 could also get married if they held a family court hearing. Although having the right to marry, children who entered into such marriages could not legally file for divorce.

A month later, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill raising the legal age of consent to marriage to 18 without exception. The age of consent had already been raised to 17 with parental or judicial consent four years earlier, when activists warned that parental or judicial consent allows child marriage to continue, especially in situations where parents promote religious and cultural traditions.

3. New Zealand has passed a bill guaranteeing paid leave for miscarriages and stillbirths

As of March, couples who experience miscarriages or stillbirths can legally be granted three days of paid leave. New Zealand’s parliament unanimously passed the measure after the law had been in the works for several years. The country became the second in the world, after India, to impose such a law.

Previous regulations required New Zealand employers to grant paid leave only for stillbirths, which occur when a couple loses a fetus after 20 weeks or more. Couples who had miscarriages or stillbirths before that window had to apply for sick leave. The new law allows anyone who loses a pregnancy at any stage to qualify without having to present proof.

4. Two countries have eliminated the tax on stamps

The UK abolished its 5% stamp tax on vintage products in January. British activists had called for an end to the discriminatory tax for decades, and in 2016 lawyer Laura Coryton launched a petition supporting the effort which received more than 300,000 signatures that moved the effort forward.

Then, in March, the Namibian government removed the 15% tampon tax on menstrual products. The motion will enter into force in the 2022/2023 financial year.

“There are not enough social and economic circumstances to create safety for young women,” Emma Theofelus, Namibia’s deputy minister for information and communication technology, said following the announcement.

5. French universities have started to require free period products

Free period products became mandatory at French universities in February with the aim of fully implementing the regulation by September. The mandate required schools to install free tampons and sanitary napkin dispensers in campus health centers and dormitories.

6. Estonia elected its first woman Prime Minister

Kaja Kallas became Estonia’s first female prime minister in January. Kallas, a 43-year-old lawyer and leader of the Estonian Reform Party, took office after a coalition of the far-right EKRE party ruled for two years. The Prime Minister’s victory made Estonia one of the few countries where women hold both the posts of Prime Minister and Head of State (President Kersti Kaljulaid took office in 2016).

7. Air India made history with an all-female pilot crew flying around the world

A group of four women flew the longest non-stop commercial flight ever operated by an Indian national airline between South India and the United States between Bengaluru and San Francisco in January. Air India Flight 176, a Boeing 777, marked the first time an all-female pilot team has flown over the North Pole.

8. The Dominican Republic prohibits child marriage

Dominican President Luis Abinader signed a bill banning the marriage of children under 18 in January. Women’s rights activists have warned that the country’s culture would have to change to view women as more than housewives for the new legislation to be respected. A report by UNICEF and the World Bank in 2017 showed that the ban on child marriage and early unions in the Dominican Republic would reduce the country’s poverty rate by 10%.

9. The German government has passed a bill requiring companies to hire more women on boards of directors

The German cabinet approved a law in January requiring listed companies to have at least one woman on their board. The bill also included stricter gender equality guidelines for state-owned enterprises and required boards of directors with more than two members to have at least one woman.

The legislation is an extension of a quota introduced in 2015 that requires publicly traded companies with more than three board members to allocate 30% of supervisory boards to women. The new law affected around 70 companies, 30 of which had no women on boards of directors, according to a joint statement issued by the German ministries of family and justice.

10. Samoa elected its first woman Prime Minister

Fiame Naomi Mataafa became the first female Prime Minister in Samoan history in May.

After head of state Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II tried to overturn election results, Samoa’s highest court overturned its opposition and refused a post-election decision to add a parliamentary seat to the longtime party for the protection of human rights.

Fiame Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (or Faith in the One True God) party won 26-25. She became only the second Pacific woman to lead a government, following the election of Hilda Heine as President of the Marshall Islands in 2016.

11. France has adopted a measure to offer free contraception to women under 25

France became the last country in the European Union to offer free contraception in September. Women under the age of 25 will be able to benefit from free access to contraception in the country from January 1, 2022. The government has allocated approximately 21 million euros (nearly 25 million dollars) to cover several methods of contraception. contraception, including IUDs, contraception contraceptive pills and implants, as well as medical appointments, tests, or other medical procedures related to obtaining a contraceptive.

The move was made in response to the government seeing a decline in contraceptive use among a certain group of young women. Many young women who are no longer covered by their parents’ health care plans end up forgoing contraception because of the expense. The government has decided that at 25, women tend to have more autonomy because of their economic situation, their social life and their income.

12. The richest countries in the world have agreed to send 4 million girls to school within 5 years

Members of the G7 – the world’s most developed economies – signed a deal to help send 40 million more girls to school within five years at a summit of G7 foreign and development ministers in London in May. Working to collectively agree to a two-year commitment of $ 15 billion (£ 10.8 billion), the G7 countries will also aim to ensure that 20 million more girls can read by age. of 10 years.

The new goals will help young women reach 12 years of schooling. Through this commitment, the G7 governments have also re-committed to promoting sexual and reproductive health while increasing the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence.


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