8 Times The World Became A Fairer Place Towards Women This Year
By Megan Flemmit, photograph by all_womankind/Instagram
I know you heard that this is a man’s world. But this is a woman’s world.
Or atleast it’s slowly becoming that way. For decades women have been fighting for their rights. Whether it be the right to vote, for equal pay or for their reproductive rights, we’re no longer accepting of discriminatory practises or laws.
And it shows. In 2017, numerous laws have been changed in countries all across the world, allowing women and girls more freedom. These changing laws are a step in the right direction when it comes to gender equality.
Here are 8 types of laws that changed in women and girl’s favour this year:
Free Sanitary Products
Access to sanitary products remains a challenge for many women and girls across the world. According to a UNESCO report one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle. Providing access to free sanitary pads ensures that girls don’t have to miss school, or have to use rags or newspapers as a substitute.
In June, Kenya signed the Basic Education Amendment Act into law committing the government to provide free, sufficient and quality sanitary pads to girls in state schools. Girls no longer have to miss school because of their period.
Menstruation Ban Lifted
For hundreds of years, women and girls in Nepal have been banished from their homes when they were menstruating or after childbirth. This is part of a practice called chhaupadi. Women and girls are seen as ‘unclean’ when they are menstruating and can be forbidden from touching food, religious icons, cattle and men. They can also be forced to sleep in cowsheds. Women in isolation are susceptible to a variety of diseases as well as vulnerable to sexual violence.
In August, Nepal’s parliament voted to criminalize the practice. Anyone who forces a women to adhere to the practice will either be imprisoned for three months or fined.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in eight girls are married before the age of 15. This is a common practice in rural areas where impoverished families marry their daughters off because they cannot afford to raise them.
Malawi has the highest rate of child marriage, where one in two girls are married before the age of 18. In April, Malawi became the latest African country to outlaw child marriage. The legal age of marriage became 18. Those who violate the law face five years of incarceration and a fine.
In Trinidad and Tobago, girls as young as five could be legally married. This practice was outlawed in June when the countries parliament unanimously voted against it.
“Marry-your-rapist’ Laws Abolished
In many countries across the world, legal loopholes allow rapists to escape incarceration if they marry the survivor. By marrying the survivor, the rapist ‘restores the honour’ of the woman he raped, and end’s the shame brought on to the family. As a result women are often trapped in marriages with their abusers.
For decades Muslim women in Tunisia were unable to marry non-Muslim men. For the marriage to occur the man would have to convert to Islam. A certificate proving his conversion would then need to be submitted before the marriage could take place.
This year Tunisia abolished the ban, after human rights groups in the country campaigned for the ban to be lifted saying it undermined a woman’s right to choose their spouse.
Instant Divorce Banned
‘Triple talaq’ or instant divorce is a practice, which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying or writing the word talaq three times. Due to advancement of technology, men could issue triple talaq via text, WhatsApp or Skype.
Men were not required to give an explanation for the divorce, and the divorce was irreversible. Women were left to either return to their family homes or to fend for themselves.
In August, India’s supreme court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional and un-Islamic. It joins 22 other countries that have also abolished the practice.
Legalization of Abortion
Chile lifted its total ban on abortion in August this year. Women are now allowed to have in abortion in cases where they’ve been raped, they miscarry or their lives are in danger. Previously women had to deliver babies that had no chance of living or undergo illegal abortions. Women undergoing illegal abortions risked their lives and faced criminal prosecution.
Currently five countries still ban abortion in all circumstances: Nicaragua, E Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Malta and the Vatican City.
Driving Ban Removed
Saudi Arabia has long been the only country in the world to ban women from driving. The kingdom, the birthplace of Islam motivated the ban by citing religious reasons. For decades women have been protesting the ban, with a number of them being arrested.
In September, the King of Saudi Arabia ended the conservative tradition by issuing a decree allowing women to drive. The decree will be implemented by June 2018.
READ MORE ON: Real Women