Co-written by Anna Lemberger and Signa Mahung
As 2014 comes to an end, ONE Girls and Women looks back on some incredibly standout moments for girls and women this year. From big awards in science to viral discussions about gender equality, these are the events and people that made us sit up and pay attention in 2014.
1. Teen girls help solve world hunger at a science fair
And we thought our paper-mache volcanoes were cool! Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 16, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, won the Google Science Fair this year with a discovery that could combat world hunger. Eleven months of testing, 10,000 seeds, and many naysayers later, these girls found that injecting bacteria into barley and oats could increase crop yield by 75%. Watch the girls explain their incredible discovery in the video above. For us, this moment touches on a bigger issue that, in the US, only 26% of people that work in STEM fields are women. We hope their work and award will inspire other girls to pursue scientific professions. Bring on the lady scientists!
2. Kenyan women take a stand against violence in their community after a woman is stripped in public
After a woman was assaulted in Nairobi and stripped in public for dressing “inappropriately” in a miniskirt, Kenyan women took a stand for their rights. Hundreds took to the street in miniskirts to protest and demand justice. We’re all about women sticking up for women!
3. The international community made bold commitments to end sexual violence in conflict
— United Nations (@UN) June 10, 2014
“Warzone rape is a crime that thrives on silence and denial,” said Angelina Jolie as she kicked off the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in London this summer – the largest event ever on this subject. Earlier this year, the African Union and United Nations also signed a landmark agreement to curb sexual violence in African countries, particularly violence against women in conflict. “National ownership, leadership and responsibility are absolutely essential if we are to protect women and girls, but also men and boys, from these barbaric crimes,” UN co-signer Zainab Bangura said. “I am confident that this framework of cooperation will help us in this fight.”
4. Malala Yousafzai wins the Nobel peace prize
At just 17, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She accepted it alongside her fellow winner Kailash Satyarthi – who were both honored for their work as children’s rights advocates. Watch Malala’s incredible acceptance speech above. Malala is definitely more than just talk. This brave young woman announced she is spending part of her prize money to build schools in Pakistan.
5. Emma Watson proves she’s even more badass than Hermione Granger (We didn’t think that was possible!)
Emma Watson gained international attention this year when she launched the #HeforShe campaign at the UN, calling on men to take a stand for gender equality. Soon after being named an official Goodwill Ambassador to the UN she gave an incredible speech on feminism and gender equality. Read this ONE Dad’s take on the #HeforShe movement. 100 points for Gryffindor!
6. Women take over the Twitter-verse
#YesAllWomen deserve to live free from threats of domestic violence & sexual assault. We must shine a bright light on such despicable crimes
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) May 27, 2014
I shouldn't have to hold my car keys in hand like a weapon & check over my shoulder every few seconds when I walk at night #YesAllWomen
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) May 25, 2014
Why does the suggestion that half the human race be treated with respect by the other half arouse such fury in the latter half?#YesAllWomen
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) May 27, 2014
When I had a seizure in my home, the EMS guys asked my roommates if it was possible I was trying to get a boy's attention. #YesAllWomen
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) May 25, 2014
Women ruled the hashtag universe in a lot of ways this year. #YesAllWomen took over twitter this spring as people shared stories and reactions to violence against women, after a tragic shooting in California. It reached almost 2 million tweets in under four days! Most recently, comedian Elon James White started the #DudesGreetingDudes to address the issue of catcalling after an anti-street harassment PSA from Hollaback went viral.
7. Child Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) grabbed the world’s attention
— ONE (@ONECampaign) July 18, 2014
The UK hosted an international Girl Summit this year, aimed at “mobilizing domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.” People around the world took the Girl Summit Pledge. Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, also spoke up about CEFM this year. At The Clinton Global Initiative, Machel explained why she, along with her group the Elders, is engaged with child marriage: “What is it that sows the seeds of social change? Child marriage brings the fundamental issue of within the family of how they have to value a girl the same way they value a boy.”
8. Professor Maryam Mirzakhani shows STEM ain’t just for men
— ONE Girls and Women (@ONEgirlswomen) August 13, 2014
Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician, is the first woman to ever win mathematics’ highest honor, the Fields Medal after completing her PhD at Harvard in 2004. Congrats professor!
9. Catherine Samba-Panza became the interim president of the Central African Republic – the first woman to hold the post
Central African Republic's 'Mother Courage' fights to bring peace where the men have failed: http://t.co/R6LvRa4l9r
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 25, 2014
In the midst of turmoil and violence in the CAR, Her Excellency is considered to be the best chance for peace and unity for her country. She has made strides to curb the violence and create stability. We can’t wait to see what this peaceful warrior will accomplish.
10. Two female superheroes find out they are getting own movies
— Moviepilot (@moviepilotnews) October 28, 2014
11. Mo’Ne Davis makes “playing like a girl” an enviable trait
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 25, 2014
13 year old Mo’Ne Davis pitched her team to the Little League World Series. She is only the 18th girl to play in the Little League World Series since it began allowing them to play in 1974. She is also the first Little League star to land a Sports Illustrated cover and was named Sports Illustrated’s “Sports Kid of the Year.” Talk about a grand slam for girls everywhere!
What moments or people would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below!