The passing of one of the most influential politicians of this era, former British Prime Minister Thatcher … Japanese government’s absurd remarks on comfort women outrages the world
This year was marked by women who rose high up as the leader around the world. Korea, Germany, Chile, and in many other countries, women have succeeded in seizing power as the leader. Meanwhile, the passing of Iron Lady Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, brought sorrow to people. The shutdown of United States federal government numerous mothers and children into a critical situation, while terror against women including India’s bus gang rape and Pakistan’s shooting of a female teacher continued.
Let’s go through this year’s women issues that gathered global attention.
In a recent Forbes Magazine selection on the 72 most influential people in the world, the highest ranking woman was Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (5th place). Having won the German general elections in September, she successfully sealed her third term victory on December 17 during the Bundestag meeting, which is the lower house in German Parliament. If she completes another 4-year term, she will become Europe’s longest-serving female leader.
Chile also welcomed a female president again. Michelle Bachelet, the first female president of Chile and who played a leading role in the establishment of UN Women, ran for presidency once again, and on December 15, she won the run-off election with 62.59% of the votes. With the re-election victory of Bachelet, a new record was set - now all 3 Latin American countries, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, also known as the ABC countries, are led by women.
In addition, the second female prime minister in history was born in both Norway and Senegal, and Bangladesh saw a female Chair of Parliament for the first time in history. In the US, Janet Yallen displayed women’s power by successfully winning the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board, which is also called as the president of the economy.
16-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai also received a lot of attention. Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ education, swept all of the prestigious human rights awards and was nominated for the Nobel Prize. She also published her autobiography “I am Malala” and gave a heart-warming address at the UN, asserting children’s right to education. As a result, UN declared the day as “Malala Day.”
This year the world has lost a leadership icon of the era, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
On April 8th, Britain’s first and only female and the longest-serving Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, died of a stroke at the age of 87. Born as the daughter of a poor grocery store owner and emerged as England’s greatest leader, she revived Britain’s depressed economy and broke the glass ceiling of British politics, giving hope to many women around the world. On the other hand, she was also criticized for widening the gap between the rich and poor and for demonstrating antifeminism by denying feminism.
Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela who died at the age of 95 on December 5 also played a leading role in women’s rights movements. In 1993, he took the initiative in South Africa’s signing of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. During his inaugural speech, he announced women’s entering into politics and expulsion of sexual abuse. In 1997, he led the adoption of the South African Constitution, which includes gender equality and ban on gender discrimination. While in his term of office, he carried forward free health services for children under 3 and mothers. After retirement he engaged in campaigns for women’s rights in South Africa and other developing countries.
This year, Japan’s far-right politicians’ continuous absurd remarks on comfort women traumatized many people around the world. Abe Shinzo denied Japan’s invasion during the Second World War and avoided the issue of comfort women. The mayor of Osaka, Hashimoto Toru, thoughtlessly said that “During the war, soldiers need the comfort women.” These absurd comments drew criticism worldwide and even the UN stepped forth to raise issues.
The US Federal Government shutdown that lasted for 16 days beginning on October 1 had a huge effect on the global economy and especially women and children. Due to the shutdown, low-income women and infants who depend on government support for food and medical services did not receive any, and, therefore, up to 9 million women and children suffered.
Meanwhile, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie was also at the center of world’s attention. Her confession that she underwent mastectomy, upon discovering her BRCA mutation, in order to prevent breast cancer for her children not only served as a warning for breast cancer but also raised awareness on the deadly disease.