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Defining moments for women in 2019

UN Women collage
UN Women collage Credit: UN Women

From the first all-woman spacewalk to Sudanese women leading the country’s revolution, the last 12 months have seen some incredible achievements by and for women.
Next year, 2020, is expected to be an even bigger year for women’s rights worldwide.

It will mark several milestones, such as the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the most progressive global agenda for women’s rights adopted by 189 countries in 1995, and five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, among others. Women’s rights can’t wait, won’t wait.

We’re taking a look back at some of the memorable moments for gender equality and women’s rights around the world:

NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch took part in the first all-women spacewalk in October when they ventured out of the International Space Station to replace a power controller.

In March, a planned all-women spacewalk had to be postponed when the team realized NASA didn’t have two appropriately sized spacesuits for women indicative of the legacy of sexism that women in STEM fields face.

Greta Tunberg outside of UN summit in New York. File photo

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist from Sweden, became the face of a global movement for climate change in 2019.

Thunberg’s movement started with her skipping school and camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament, demanding action to protect the planet for future generations, and grew to a global strike.

In September 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic on an emissions-free boat to speak at the UN Climate Summit in New York, where she condemned world leaders for their lack of action.

“You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she said. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”

Esther Duflo, 46, won the Nobel Prize in Economics, alongside her husband Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer. Duflo and her colleagues worked on an approach to alleviate global poverty and explored the causes of poverty, and how those living in poverty respond to education, healthcare, agriculture and other programmes.

The first direct image of a black hole, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope. Credit: UN Women article

The world got its first image of a black hole in April, thanks to Katie Bouman, a 29 year-old PhD candidate in the US. Bouman and her team created the algorithm that led to the image of a supermassive black hole in the Messier 87 galaxy. The image will help revolutionize the understanding of black holes going forward.

Women athletes had a record-breaking year in 2019 too, setting up whole new batch of role-models for girls around the world and proving that women can be just as (or even more) successful than any man in sport.

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and Brazilian soccer superstar Marta scored her 17th World Cup goal, making her the top-scorer in tournament history for both men and women. In celebration of her record-breaking goal, Marta pointed to her cleat, where an equal sign in pink and blue signified her commitment to gender equality in sport and beyond.

In April, a photo of Alaa Salah, dressed in white and standing atop a car leading protest chants, went viral; just days before the President of Sudan was arrested. Women and youth were the driving force of the movement in Sudan, representing more than 70 per cent of the protestors. In October 2019, Salah addressed the UN Security Council, calling on the international community to ensure women’s meaningful participation in the transition process going forward.

Source: United Nations featured stories ( 17 December 2019)

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