Many great, notable achievements should be celebrated this year, but we should first start by simply acknowledging all the labour that women who are also mothers did this year, raising their kids in a pandemic, taking on school at home. All the women who supported their friends, their family themselves, and the ones who prioritize themselves for one, understanding that if they can’t be there for themselves, they can’t show up for others. Therefore, to all women in the world, congratulations on all the big and small achievements, to what you made happen in your life and the life of others. It is time to acknowledge that it isn’t because it doesn’t make the front page of the newspaper that it isn’t worth a pad in the back.
Another thing worth mentioning before moving to many achievements that made the news this year, let’s support each other more. Let’s not seeing someone who does well as competition, but as someone doing something important to cheer for. While we can be 1% jealous, we should be 99% happy that our fellow people, women, are shining their lights through.
Furthermore, let’s stand in solidarity with Indigenous women around the globe. Let’s be allies to many other women who have been dealt the worst hand than us. This year, the Women’s History Month theme is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” There is no better time than now, with the world’s events to work towards that. By being an ally, by using our voices, by questioning our assumptions. It is time to think about what we can give up, not what we can give back. This will contribute to equilibrating what has happened to victims of the system, the Browns, Black, and Indigenous women.
While we knew in 2020 that this day would come, it was on January 20, 2021 that Kamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th U.S. vice president and made history. She became the first woman, the first Black American and the first Asian American to occupy the office, inspiring young of age and of heart ladies all across the country and the world, just as the next nomination also does. Ketanji Brown Jackson, an American attorney and jurist serving as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2021, also made history this year by being Biden’s pick for US Supreme Court. She was confirmed to the DC circuit court of appeal just over a year ago and only a few weeks into this new year, in 2022, she is the first black woman nominated to the USA supreme court.
The Tokyo 2021 Olympics were the closest for parity. More than a century after women first competed at the Olympic Games, female athlete numbers were close to equal with those of the men at Tokyo 2020, reaching 48 per cent parity at Tokyo 2020. Another step forward was made during the most gender-balanced Summer Games in history, Tokyo 2020 saw the implementation of a rule change that allowed one male and one female athlete to jointly carry their flag during the Opening Ceremony. With 91% of inclusion of women bearing the flag, we hope that this will increase the visibility of women in sport and especially high-level competitive one.
In recent years a fair deal has been written on the quite divergent leadership style that women bring in the workplace, how the way they lead differ from their male counterpart one pat in the back definitely go to Kate Bingham, who headed UK’s vaccine task force, and while her mandate ended with the last few days of 2020, it is only with a report in 2021 that we understood fully the impact made by her bold, and informed decisions. This venture capitalist with a first-class degree in biochemistry, focused her approach with due diligence, multiple levels of screening and careful negotiation of contracts while also making sure to have a maximum of information in hands. Her approach is something we can all learn from.
Women putting their boundaries and supporting their mental health got an extra dose of support when Naomi Osaka – businesswoman in sports, an advocate for racial justice and also a 24-year-old professional tennis player – used her platform this year to promote and prioritize health and wellbeing. King is definitely a source of inspiration to many other showing us that nobody needs to hold onto absurd and, let’s be honest, deceivable and doctored images and that “it’s OK to not be OK”.
A review of the year couldn’t be complete if we didn’t discuss at least one-woman stereotype. When Mattel announced that Barbie would get a new body – it seems like there would be hope (sort of till we start chewing on the fairy tales…) that we would remove one layer of unattainable standards for women. Barbie now comes in 3 new bodies, a petite, a tall one as well as a curvy one. Unfortunately, the original Barbie is still part of the family, continuing to make the most infamous body in the world – part of the norm.
Speaking of body changes and actualization, it was also in the past 12 months that Mars released the new looks of its famous M&M Crew. Changes range from removing the sexy boots of the green M&M to professional heels on the feet of Mrs Brown. Furthermore, the two ladies will be more cordial towards each other, throwing shine not shade at each other, promoting women supporting each other. This makeover has been done to be representative of a “more dynamic, progressive world” – so ladies, sneakers are in as women supporting each other in real life and in the candy world – don’t miss that bandwagon.
Another big achievement in 2021 is the fact that Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for best director for her film Nomadland. Zhao is quite used to being a trailblazer. A little bit more than a year ago, Variety reported that with “34 awards season trophies for directing, 13 for screenplay and nine for editing, Chloe Zhao has surpassed Alexander Payne (Sideways) as the most awarded person in a single awards season in the modern era. Another important fact is that Chloé Zhao isn’t even 40 years old – we can’t wait to see what will be next on her scorecard.
A win, a big one never hurts and this is why the fact that Amy Schneider became the highest-earning woman in “Jeopardy!” history is something to be celebrated. While she is the 4th contestant in the long live quiz – it started airing in March 1964, then in 1975 took a 9-year break before being consistently played since its return in 1984. Schneider, a software engineering manager, won more than 1 million!
And while gender equality is far from being the norm and that gender bias still exists – let’s just think of gender reveals here – Lego made a giant leap towards trying to let kids be kids and play with whatever they want – the labels ‘for girls’ or ‘for boys’ will no longer appear on their toys and they also made a commitment to increase diversity and roles representation in an effort to let children identifying with toys and furthermore society at large in the capacity they wished. This hopefully will lead the way toward diminishing the impact of stereotypes and promoting inclusion and diversity.
It has been a great year for women, and we can’t wait to see what the next one will bring as first – and there are so many other first to come. Our hopes for women in 2022 are the same as always, more support, more equalities and of course more women centre stage in all capacities. We need to seize the opportunities and dream bolder and bigger, to inspire all future generations of girls who are tomorrow’s women!