Little Brown Feminist
Latest posts by Little Brown Feminist (see all)
- Valuing Domestic Work: The Patriarchal Hierarchy of Women’s Labour - April 5, 2017
- The Realities of Being a Secular Muslim in the Modern World - March 3, 2017
- The Forgotten People: Gender Violence and the Rohingya Refugee Crisis - January 20, 2017
If there is anything that we as a global society can agree on, it’s that 2016 hasn’t been the most spectacular year. With the extensive list of celebrity deaths, the heartbreaking natural disasters, and the one of the most upsetting US elections in recent history – it has felt at times like a long struggle. We’re close to the end now, and the best way to salvage this year is to shake off the misery and reflect on the positives. In a year as globally devastating as 2016, these influential women have done amazing work which we can be thankful for.
Aditi Gupta is the founder of Menstrupedia Comic, which promotes awareness and teaching for young girls about their periods. In many areas of the world, such as India where Gupta originates from, periods are a shameful secret that girls must not discuss. There is a reluctance to educate girls about periods, and the processes of puberty that will change their growing bodies. A recent study by Menstrual Hygiene Day reported that 1 out of 3 schoolgirls from South Asia were not aware of what periods were until they experienced one, and only 2.5% knew that menstrual blood came from the uterus.
The comics provide a fun and accessible way of learning about menstruation, debunking the myths and instead providing period positivity. Gupta plans on making Menstrupedia international, with the hopes of deteriorating the stigma around periods so that eventually we can live in a world that never knew such a taboo existed.
Patel was the thirteen year old South African who made us all wish we could be her, when she protested against her school’s hair policy. Patel and other students protested against the institution for discriminating against their natural hair, after comments made by teachers comparing their hair to ‘birds nests’. Patel had even faced detention for her hair, which caused her to study the South African Constitution in regards to school policies on dress codes. After the protest, the school’s hair policy was suspended by the Gauteng Department of Education.
Omar made history this year when she became the first Somali-American, refugee, female Muslim legislator when she won a Minnesota House seat. Her win carried a huge symbolic importance in Minnesota, which is home to the nation’s largest Somali population, particularly due to the comments made about Somali immigration and the Muslim population in general by the current US president. During her victory speech, Omar spoke on how her agenda was focused on justice and common good and renewable energy.
The nineteen year old American gymnast wowed audiences with her spectacular performances, securing four gold medals, being the first American and fifth female to win four gold medals at a single Games. Biles became the first black gymnast to win the all-around title at the World Championships in 2013 and retained her crown in 2014 and 2015. She has 10 world golds to her name, more than any other woman in history. LeBron James called her an inspiration to young girls, particularly black girls, everywhere.
A Salvadoran feminist and social activist, Herrera is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. She has worked in abortion rights which is considered unacceptable in a deeply Catholic Salvador. She heads the Citizen’s Group for Decriminalisation of Abortion, and her work has been subject to an Amnesty International report in 2015 about the situation of abortion availability in Salvador.
Dukureh is a Gambian activist and leader in the fight to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a practice that affects around 200 million girls worldwide. Dukureh was a victim to FGM herself, only realising the severity of her own case when she was sent to the USA to marry a much older man that she didn’t know. Dukureh had had her labia and clitoris completely removed, with her vagina stitched shut except for a small hole to allow urination and menstruation. She has since remarried and had three children, and is leading a movement to raise awareness within the US and end FGM worldwide. Her successful change.org petition has meant that the Obama administration will commission a report to study the problems.
A Yemeni physician and activist, Moharram is noted for her work dealing with starvation in the Yemeni city of Hudaydah. Moharram has said of her work: “I’m seeing the same thing I used to watch on TV when the famine unfolded in Somalia. I never thought I would see this in Yemen.” Since late 2015 Moharram has worked independently, delivering medicine and food in her car, serving as a mobile clinic.
These are only a few examples of the amazing work that is being done by women everywhere, and the impact their choices have made for others. They are fantastic examples of how we can create positive changes to ourselves and the world around us, by not allowing challenges to dissuade us. If we take away anything from this year, it is the example these badass women and countless others have made for us; that courage, hard work, kindness and a desire to eliminate injustice can change the world.
Thanks for showing us that 2016 wasn’t a complete dud of year!