Stories in the news by Avery Thorne
Women-led nations excel at tackling the Pandemic
In a global pandemic, there are limited certainties. However, one pattern has emerged: women-led nations have excelled in tackling Covid-19. From understanding it to controlling it, to even eradicating the virus, female leaders have been praised for their successes regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders such as Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Angela Merkel of Germany have succeeded in reducing death rates and economic devastations. In particular, Prime Minister (PM) Jacinda Ardern has been deemed a role model for leadership. Jacinda Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest female PM, as well as the second world leader ever to give birth while in office. In her three years as leader, she has faced a major terrorist attack, a devastating volcanic eruption, and a global pandemic.
Why are female leaders handling the coronavirus better than their male counterparts? Is it a reflection of the populous that elected them or a testament to female leadership? Statistics have suggested that countries with a female as leader have lost an average of one-fifth as many citizens to the virus than male-led countries (The New York Times).
Could this be explained by the male ego’s tendency to not ask or consider the advice of experts, or could it be the higher level of empathy and caution exhibited by women? Perhaps women’s long history of selflessness and caring responsibilities have allowed these leaders to consider the severity of their actions. Nevertheless, the handling of this pandemic by women should be strongly considered for future elections, as our future becomes more and more unpredictable.
The misunderstanding of the #challengeaccepted trend
The popular trend for women to post a black-and-white selfie accompanied by the hashtag #challengeaccepted has recently taken social media by storm. However, many worry that the original purpose of the trend has been forgotten and replaced with yet another form of social media “slacktivism”, which is activism characterized by minimal effort or contribution.
The trend began in July to spread awareness of violence against women in Turkey. Sparked by the death of Pınar Gültekin, a 27-year-old Turkish university student murdered by her ex-boyfriend, the trend was instigated by Turkish campaigners to address the issue of Femicide, an ever-present issue faced by the country. Marches were organized in four cities in Turkey to demand the government’s promise to protect victims of domestic and gender-based violence and prosecute offenders justly. The black-and-white selfie trend was created by the loved ones of the victims to honor and acknowledge the injustices faced by Turkish women.
While numerous women and celebrities in western countries intended to acknowledge the importance of sisterhood with the post, the purpose of the trend to draw attention to the Femicide in Turkey has been undermined. Pınar Gültekin was one of the 120 women murdered, mostly by their partners, in Turkey this year alone. Turkey is demanding justice and change.
The new generation of Feminism
A recent survey has demonstrated that a record-breaking 61% of American women say that the word “feminist” describes them well, according to the Pew Research Center. These statistics were attributed to age, level of education, and even political beliefs. Among them, women aged 19-24 held the highest connection to feminism. Generation Z, which makes up 32% of the global population, is expected to have the highest number of feminists, estimated at 70%, and the most progressive population than any previous generation.
There has never been a generation more diverse and inclusive of feminism, LGTBQ+ rights, and antiracism, which is mostly due to the education and hard work of previous generations. However, there is still much work to be done. A study suggested that 50% of Gen Z males believe that feminism has “gone too far and makes it harder for men to succeed”, according to a UK political campaign group, HOPE not hate.
Nevertheless, as male feminists gain popularity among the youth, the future of gender equality is hopeful. As a collective, Gen Z has the ability and responsibility to ensure an inclusive world for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or gender. Feminism must remain a priority for current and future generations.
Kamala Harris’ victory for women and BIPOC communities
History was made Tuesday, August 11th, when Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, announced Senator Kamala D. Harris as his running mate. Not only does this mark a victory for women, but also for African and Asian-Americans. Kamala Harris was born and raised in California after her mother immigrated to the US from India and her father from Jamaica. She was the first black woman elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney and eventually became the first black woman to be elected California Attorney General.
Throughout her political career and since being elected as U.S. Senator in 2016, she has fought for climate change laws, gun laws, drug control, marriage equality, racial justice, reproductive rights, and gender equality. Additionally, Harris has publicly taken a stand against police brutality and for reproductive freedoms.
Her win as potential vice president brings hope for the presence and future of women in government and has resulted in a predicted all-time high of registered BIPOC voters. 2020 marks a record-breaking number of women running for US Congress, where women currently represent 23.7%, (37.8% being women of color). With trailblazing role models such as Kamala Harris, the future of women in politics everywhere is optimistic.
Afghan women demand hearing with Taliban leadership for equality
As the Intra-Afghan Peace Talks nears, a talk that aims to negotiate a maintainable political negotiation after years of conflict in Afghanistan, an association of Afghan women’s rights groups have joined to release an open letter to the Taliban leadership. This letter calls for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing war, as well as demands rights and equality for the women of Afghanistan.
This requisition for women’s rights has often been projected as Western influence by the Taliban, however, Afghan women affirm that equality is a fundamental part of Islamic faith, the majority religion in Afghanistan. Despite making up over half of Afghanistan’s population, women have often been excluded and ignored in previous Peace Talks. This year, the women of Afghanistan are adamant that they will no longer be disregarded and treated as second-class citizens. They demand equal representation, participation, and roles in the decision-making for their country, as well as a peaceful and sustainable future. This powerful group of women is an inspiration and example for future non-violent solutions and global female empowerment. It truly is a story of resilience and bravery for the women of Afghanistan, as well as the world.