2022 saw a lot of highs and lows. It was a major year in terms of women’s rights. While many laws were passed across the world that called into question the progress feminism has made in the past few decades, other judgements upheld the progressiveness of the feminist movement. Here are some major global events of 2022 that made a mark, some in the best way possible, others as a cry for help.
1. Iranian women protest
On September 13, 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing her hijab. Severely beaten, she died in police custody three days later. Amini’s death sparked a revolution across the country. Women across Iran rallied together to protest the injustice. They tore off their hijabs, chopped off their hair, and came out to the streets in a unified cry of “women, life, freedom.” These protests demanded an end to the mandatory hijab law as well as the end to the existing theocratic regime and wider freedom for women. In the course of the protest by the Iranian women, many lives have been lost, but their spirit still stands tall. The protests, and more so Mahsa Amini, have become a global symbol of freedom today.
2. Criminalising abortion in the US
In a historic and regressive decision, the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade judgement on June 24, 2022, declaring abortion unconstitutional. The right to abortion, which was a constitutional right for nearly 50 years, has now become a criminal act, regardless of whether the pregnancy causes a threat to the mother’s life or not, or if the foetus is wanted or not. This ruling has denied women the basic right to make decisions regarding their bodies and live a life of dignity. Whether they are victims of rape, incest, or a healthy patient should have no bearing on their right to abortion. This decision was one global event of 2022 that made an impact, not just in the US but globally as well.
3. Abortions up to 24 weeks made legal in India for unmarried women
Like a light at the end of a tunnel, the Indian Supreme Court made an amendment to their existing abortion laws. Earlier, married women in India were allowed to get an abortion up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy, but unmarried women were only allowed to terminate their pregnancy till the 20th week. In the latest amendment, even single women can now terminate their pregnancy till the 24th week. This came as a landmark judgement because the court ended the illogical discrimination between married and unmarried women.
4. Worldwide increase in gender-based violence
While there is a steady increase in gender-based violence across the globe, in 2022, it was at a record high. Reports have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, economic instability and global conflicts have all contributed towards the worsening state of women. According to the UN, one in three women is estimated to be a victim of gender-based violence. There was also an increase in intimate partner violence and one in five women has been a victim of it. To tackle the issue, the UN partners with governments and other institutions to find ways of prevention, including a focus on education, respectful relationships between men and women as well as creating safe spaces.
5. Abolition of the gender ministry in South Korea
People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-Yeol took charge of the office on May 10, 2022, and became the President of South Korea. During his presidency, he called for the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in the country. Established in 2001, the ministry is set to undergo changes for the first time in over two decades. The President’s move to abolish the ministry reeks of misogyny as he claims that structural sexism is a thing of the past and the need for a Gender Equality Ministry is obsolete. Over 800 organisations have come together to protest his decision arguing against the impact it could have on women’s lives.
South Korea is well known for its conservative culture, but the gender gap, as well as the pay gap, is also quite prevalent in the country. With the abolition of the gender ministry, women’s rights will be pushed to a corner and they will be relegated to an even more patriarchal and sexist role. This gender war is what has led to people coming out together to raise their voices against the anti-feminist wave that has swept across South Korea.
6. Conflict-related sexual violence in Ukraine
In a war, a lot of lives are lost, soldiers and civilians alike. But some of the biggest casualties of war are women as they become victims of sexual violence. In the Russia-Ukraine war too, combatants inflicted sexual violence on many girls and women. Unfortunately for the women in Ukraine, the abuse is two-fold. Those who faced abuse at home continue to face it, but additionally, they are assaulted by the invading forces too.
2022 was a mixed bag of emotions. While on one hand, we had governments and people in power trying their best to suppress women, we also had women coming out in full force to resist these attempts. Women who were otherwise considered to be meek and quiet found their voice to speak against injustice. While these events happened in singular countries, their effects are not singular or isolated. The consequences of these global events of 2022 can be seen across the world.
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