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Twenty memorable moments from #WomenInPolitics in 2021
#WomenLeadRewind: Moments that left us feeling inspired, delighted and thrilled.
As we brace ourselves to bid adieu to 2021, here’s a wrap of some of our favourite moments about women in politics from the year. We’ve picked moments and developments that left us feeling inspired, gave us gooseflesh or reasons to cheer, and definitely left us feeling hopeful about the future of representation in politics. Hope you enjoy this curation - tell us if these were your favourites too, or if we’ve missed any.
(And just for nostalgia’s sake, here is the year-end special from 2020).
Here’s our list:
When a new party in South Africa put forth only women candidates on all wards that it was contesting in a municipal poll - organically, sans any quota.
When two major parties in South Korea put forth Presidential candidates with a history of misogynistic conduct, and a women’s group responded by holding a protest, clearly announcing that male politicians who exploit misogyny could not be put in charge of state affairs.
When after a bit of drama, and after a pretty long wait, Sweden finally got its first woman Prime Minister. The milestone came 100 years after Swedish women got the right to vote and the first woman got elected to Parliament in the country.
When Peru’s Mirtha Vásquez became her country’s sixth woman PM, even as other countries were celebrating their first women heads of state and government.
When women members of the European Parliament shared their experiences of being attacked and abused online, demanding that online abuse of women leaders “has to stop”.
When Arya Rajendran, the youngest ever mayor in India, minced no words while rebuking male politicians who had mocked her for her age and had compared her with a kindergarten child.
When Kamala Harris formally took the oath to office, becoming the first woman to hold the post of Vice President of the USA, in a moving and splendid ceremony.
When Bangladesh completed fifty years as a nation, we did some math to find that it had had a woman PM at the helm for 28 years, and the country had only been headed by women (as a full-time PM) since 1991!
When Xiomara Castro made history by getting elected Honduras’ first woman President, and also ending the recent “drought” of female Presidents in the entire Latin American region.
When India’s oldest political party - the Congress - announced that it would give 40 percent tickets to women in a major upcoming state election, sparking an important conversation on gender and politics in the country.
When Chile elected 155 members to draft its new constitution - half of whom were women - and then elected Elisa Loncon, who is from the country's majority Indigenous Mapuche community, to lead the process.
When, ahead of Presidential polls, people in Portugal came together and wore red lipstick in solidarity with a woman candidate who was mocked by one of her male counterparts for her choice of lip colour.
When Mexico showed the world what serious commitment to improving women’s representation in politics looks like, by extending the legal requirement of parity among candidates to the gubernatorial level.
When Kaja Kallas was sworn in as Estonia’s first woman PM in January, making the country the only one in the world at the time to have a woman as both the head of state and head of government at the same time.
Every time we heard Barbados PM Mia Amor Mottley mince no words when she addressed the global community demanding justice and compassionate leadership. At COP26 too, she delivered a powerful speech that was described by listeners as “stunning”, “powerful”, and “the speech the world needed”.
How Samia Suluhu Hassan, who became Tanzania’s first woman PM in March 2021, started to take her country away from covid denial and started fixing Tanzania’s pandemic response.
In Samoa, Naomi Mata’afa won a narrowly contested election in April with a razor thin margin to become the first woman PM of the Pacific island nation. But incumbent Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi refused to concede defeat, going as far as locking the doors of Parliament to prevent her from taking oath within the stipulated time frame. She took oath in a tent outside, and after weeks and months of turmoil and court intervention, she was able to rightfully claim her place in July.
The global outpouring of respect and affection we saw as Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful leaders of our time and former German Chancellor, retired from politics.
In an act of radical courage, Brittany Higgins, a former Parliamentary staffer in Australia shared that she had been raped in Australian Parliament. Higgins’ allegations shook the country for several months and sparked an essential (though disturbing) conversation on sexual violence in Parliament, leading to a cabinet shuffle, and a call for substantial reforms.
And that’s a wrap for 2021! If you liked this edition, please do share it with your friends, colleagues, family, and anyone and everyone! And don’t forget to press the ❤️ button.
We will see you next in 2022 - the next edition of #WomenLead will be published on January 16. Here’s wishing all of you a warm, joyful and restful holiday season, and a very Happy New Year. 🎊🎈🎄