This is a 2022 year-end report on the state of women’s rights around the world, with a curated selection of stories. News reports are listed below in chronological order with source and date used for each entry heading.
For context, in the United States, as recent as a few generations ago, in 1869, Wyoming became the first state to allow women to vote.
In 1870, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (a Medal of Honor recipient) was arrested for wearing pants. Charges were dropped when she was recognized by authorities as having been given special permission from Congress to wear pants. [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3]
By 1920, after a 72-year struggle, women were given the right to vote. The law was signed at a ceremony to which the press and suffragists were not invited.
By 1938, a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour was established. The legislation is considered one of the first bills to treat men and women equally.
In 1963, the Equal Pay Act protected women’s right to earn equal pay for equal work. At the time, women were earning 59% of what men were earning for the same job. By 2003 this increased to 75%.
In 1974, women were given the right to be pregnant and stay employed without fear of being fired.
In 2021, a woman was given U.S. presidential power for 85 minutes. [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3] A list of women heads of state can be found on Wikipedia. [Source]
[The above timeline was obtained from the Annenberg Classroom, unless otherwise indicated.]
FRANCE 24 (24 Dec 2022)
“Taliban orders all NGOs in Afghanistan to forbid female employees from working” — Afghanistan’s Taliban-run administration on Saturday ordered all local and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGO) to stop female employees from coming to work, according to an economy ministry letter, in the latest crackdown on women’s freedoms. [Source]
BBC (23 Dec 2022)
“Malala ‘devastated’ at Taliban’s university ban for Afghan women” — Activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has said she is “devastated” but “not shocked” at the Taliban’s ban of female students from attending university in Afghanistan. She urged world leaders to respond and take the move “seriously” and added women in the country are being “erased”. The Taliban have arrested five women taking part in a protest against the ban, in the capital Kabul, and three journalists were also reportedly arrested. [Source]
Al Jazeera (22 Dec 2022)
“A big blow for Afghan women: Taliban bars them from universities” — Afghan women in shock and despair after the Taliban bars them from going to universities. Taliban risks further international alienation after it halts university education for women. [Source]
Al Jazeera (21 Dec 2022)
“Afghan women protest after Taliban enforces university ban” — Protests have been held in some cities in Afghanistan against the Taliban’s decision to ban women from universities. Demonstrators have in Jalalabad and Kabul, pledged solidarity with female students. Girls have already been banned from middle school and high school. Some analysts say the latest government order points to a clear divide in the Taliban. Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan reports. 21 Dec 2022 at 1:37 PM CT [Source]
BBC News (21 Dec 2022)
“Taliban ban women from Afghan universities” — The Taliban have banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan with immediate effect. The ban further excludes women’s access to education in the country – girls have been excluded from secondary school education since the Taliban returned last year. Some women protested against the decision on Wednesday, but demonstrations were quickly shut down by government officials. Last month, women were also barred from parks, gyms and swimming pools in the capital Kabul. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (20 Dec 2022)
“Taliban bans higher eduaction for women ‘until further notice'” — The Taliban has closed universities for female students, the Ministry of Higher Education said on Tuesday in Afghanistan. “You are all informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females under further notice,” read a letter issued by the Ministry to all goverment and private universities. A spokesman for the Education Ministry also tweeted the letter, with the ban meaning that girls and women have been effectively locked out of classrooms after 6th grade. The ban on higher education comes less than three months after thousands of women took university entrance exams across the country, with many aspiring to become teachers or medical practitioners. Universities had remained open to women since the Taliban swept back into power in August 2021, so long as they attended classes separated from male students. The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan also reportedly specified subjects that women could choose to study at their universities. [Source]
The Fifth Estate (20 Dec 2022)
“How Iran’s regime tries to silence protesters in Canada and the U.S.” — As demonstrations in Iran continue and its government executes protesters, The Fifth Estate sits down with Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad to examine how the regime tries to silence dissidents abroad. [Source]
FRANCE 24 (16 Dec 2022)
“Exiles: Meet the Iranian women taking up arms in Iraqi Kurdistan” — Her death has sparked the biggest uprising against the Iranian regime since the mollahs came to power more than 40 years ago. Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, died on September 16 after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for violating the country’s strict dress code for women. Since then, protesters have been taking to the streets to express their anger. The regime has responded with arrests, torture and death sentences. Many demonstrators trying to escape this crackdown have fled to the Kurdistan region of neighbouring Iraq, where they have found refuge. Kevin Berg reports. [Source]
BBC News (15 Dec 2022)
“Women fight back as South Korea tries to abolish its Gender Equality Ministry” — South Korea’s rapid transformation into one of the richest countries in the world, has left women trailing behind. They are paid on average a third less than men, giving South Korea the worst gender pay gap of any rich country in the world. Upon entering office, South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol scrapped government gender quotas, declaring people would be hired on merit, not sex. He is now trying to abolish the government’s Gender Equality Ministry, which supports women and victims of sexual assault, claiming it is obsolete. More than 800 organisations have come together to protest against the closure, arguing it could have a damaging impact on women’s lives. [Source]
Deutsche Welle (15 Dec 2022)
“Why it takes extra courage to ride a bike for women in Pakistan’s conservative regions” — A group of girls in a remote area of Pakistan have been given a rare treat of learning to ride a bike. Women in the conservative region of Landi Kotal are usually prevented from doing any type of sport but professional athlete Samar Khan was able to set up the first cycling camp there. She said her aim was to give girls the chance to experience the joy of this kind of physical activity and also to empower them. We hear what some of the girls felt about cycling for the first time and their situation. [Source]
CBC (14 Dec 2022)
“UN expels Iran from women’s rights panel” — Iran was ousted from a United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on Wednesday. ‘It’s a technical move,’ said Damon Golriz, lecturer at the Hague University, as he joined Power & Politics to discuss the protests in Iran. [Source]
The Economic Times (14 Dec 2022)
“Iranian footballer faces possible execution over his participation in women’s rights protests” — 26-year-old, a professional Iranian footballer, was sentenced to death by the Iranian regime. The reason for the death sentence will shock you. [Source]
BBC (7 Dec 2022)
“New testimony in Greenland’s birth control scandal” — Thousands of women in Greenland, including some as young as 12, had a contraceptive device implanted in their womb – often without consent – as part of a Danish campaign to control Greenland’s growing Inuit population in the 60s and 70s. The Danish government has announced an independent investigation into this so-called “Coil Campaign”. But the BBC has gathered accounts from women about recent involuntary contraception, amid growing calls for the investigation to go further. [Source]
OSCE (25 Nov 2022)
“WIN for Women and Men. Advancing gender equality” — The main objective of the WIN project is to advance gender equality as a prerequisite for achieving and maintaining stable, prosperous and peaceful societies in the OSCE area. The project aims to accelerate the implementation of the OSCE 2004 Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality, and all Ministerial Council decisions related to gender equality, and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS). [Source]
TODAY (31 Aug 2022)
“Internet Reacts To TV Anchor’s Firing After She Let Her Hair Go Gray” — Canadian veteran news anchor Lisa LaFlamme was let go abruptly after letting her hair go gray and many are questioning whether the ousting had to do with her cosmetic choice. NBC’s Erin McLaughlin reports for TODAY. [Source]
PBS (3 Feb 2022)
“When Did Women Start Wearing Jeans? | Riveted: The History of Jeans | American Experience” — [Source]
UN (16 Jan 2020)
“A global history of women’s rights, in 3 minutes” — How much progress have we achieved in the global struggle for equal rights, and how much work remains? From worldwide suffrage campaigns to the rise of #MeToo and digital activism, we have marched slowly forward. But today, the fight for gender equality is far from over. Discover the noteworthy women, grassroots movements and historic milestones that have changed the world for women and girls. [Source]
Encyclopedia Britannica (20 Mar 2019)
“When did women start wearing pants in the U.S.?” — In some cultures, pants have been common garments worn by women for centuries or millennia. This was not the case in much of Western society. In the United States, women typically wore long skirts, with the exception of some women who wore pants-like garments to perform work or engage in sports. While there were some women who championed pants in the 19th century, pants as an acceptable everyday clothing option for women didn’t truly catch on until the mid-20th century. [Source]
BBC (2 Jun 2016)
“Baby accidentally given to wrong couple reunited with real parents” — A couple who were given the wrong baby by a hospital in El Salvador a year ago, have finally been allowed to travel home with the correct child. Rich Cushworth – who is British – and his wife, Mercedes – were only given a birth certificate for their son Moses a few days ago. They landed back home in Dallas, Texas this week where they have been speaking exclusively to our correspondent Matthew Price. [Source]
Michael Kimmel via TED (6 Oct 2015)
“Why Gender Equality Is Good for Everyone — Men Included” — Yes, we all know it’s the right thing to do. But Michael Kimmel makes the surprising, funny, practical case for treating men and women equally in the workplace and at home. It’s not a zero-sum game, but a win-win that will result in more opportunity and more happiness for everybody. [Source]