As scary and overwhelming as 2017 was for women, it also sparked a firestorm of feminist activism, and 2018 is already following that pattern. Only a few months into the year, there are already so many woman-driven moments worth celebrating. (And it's important to make time to celebrate, because there's a lot more work ahead!) Here are the 20 best moments for women in 2018, so far.
1. Women in Hollywood start the Time's Up movement
On January 1, 2018, hundreds of women in Hollywood unveiled an anti-harassment plan and legal fund as a continuation of the #MeToo movement. Time’s Up is dedicated to helping women fight misconduct in the workplace and the fallout that often comes with reporting it. Celebrities further showed support for the movement by wearing all black to the Golden Globes. By mid-February, the initiative’s legal defense fund had raised more than Dhs65 million from 20,000 donors, and more than 200 lawyers had volunteered to help victims of workplace misconduct.
2. Saudi Arabia to start hiring its first female soldiers
Saudi Arabia has led the charge of change in the Middle East this past few months by implementing several new rules for women. Saudi’s Directorate of Public Security will soon offer women military rank posts across cities like Madinah, Makkah Qassim, Asir and Riyadh. The application process is already open!.
3. Saudi women can now work as tour guides in The Kingdom
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage in 2018 will be issuing licenses for women to operate as tour guides in The Kingdom, the director of the commission’s hospitality sector nationalisation confirmed a few days ago. This has been done in an effort to increase the female work force from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by the year 2020.
4. Saudi Arabia will host its very first Arab Fashion Week in March
HH Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, the Arab Fashion Council's honorary president, announced the unprecedented event in London on February 19. “We are proud of the significant progress achieved by the Arab Fashion Council in Riyadh, as we announce today the first Fashion Week in the history of the Kingdom,” she stated on the council's official website.
5. Saudi women no longer need permission to start a business
Saudi Arabia's ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Al-Hussein recently made a groundbreaking anouncement on Twitter: “No need for a guardian’s permission. Saudi women are free to start their own business freely,” according to Arab News. "Women can practice all their commercial transactions in the Ministry of Commerce and Investment without a guardian or a notary,” Al-Hussein said. He also included the hashtag #No_Need !
6. Women to start driving taxis in Oman
The Royal Oman Police released a statement on January 31, announcing that women can drive taxis and heavy vehicles from March 1, 2018 onwards, opening up a lucrative career option for women who can't afford higher education.
7. Saudi Arabia allows women to attend soccer games
Some of the country's strict rules on gender separation were recently relaxed, and as part of that, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to attend a football game for the first time in January. The BBC reported that the first game with a women’s seating section was held just a few days after Saudi Arabia opened its first women's car showroom (to prep for the ban on female driving being lifted in June 2018).
8. After Catt Sadler quits E! because of unequal pay, other celebrities defended her on the Golden Globes red carpet
Celebrities like Debra Messing, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon said they stand with Catt Sadler in red carpet interviews before the Golden Globes, referencing Sadler's departure from E! upon learning she made less money than her male co-anchor. "I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn't believing in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts,” Messing said. “I miss Catt Sadler. So we stand with her."
9. Feminist activists attend the Golden Globes
Aside from wearing all-black to the Golden Globes in support of the Time's Up movement and putting an end to workplace harassment, eight celebs took things a step further and brought feminist activists as their dates to the awards show. Among the activists were Tarana Burke (the creator of "Me Too"), Rosa Clemente (the first Afro-Latina woman to run for vice president in the US) and Ai Jen-Poo (executive director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance). Ten activists, Cecile Richards and Janet Mock among them, even appeared on stage during Common and Andra Day's performance of “Stand Up For Something."
10. Oprah delivers powerful Golden Globes speech, sparking rumors of a presidential candidacy
Calm down – Oprah has since confirmed that she has no plans to run for president. But the awe-inspiring speech she gave after being the first black woman to accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award gave everyone something fun to dream about for a few days. From the speech: "I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again."
11. Ellen Pompeo becomes dramatic TV's highest paid actress
In a January interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Grey's Anatomy actress Ellen Pompeo revealed she signed a new deal that makes her dramatic television's highest paid actress, making more than Dhs65 million a year. She cited Shonda Rhimes, who hired her for Grey's back in 2005, as a mentor in getting what she deserved. The interview is full of gems. "In Shonda finding her power and becoming more comfortable with her power, she has empowered me. And that took her a while to get to, too. It was part of her evolution. It's also why our relationship is so special," Pompeo said. "I was always loyal to her, and she responds well to loyalty. So, she got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented."
12. The second annual Women's March takes place
Even in the absence of a presidential inauguration, millions of women around the world (and some celebrities) took to the streets for the second annual Women’s March on January 20. Speaking at a rally in Los Angeles, Viola Davis said: "Every single day, your job as an American citizen is not just to fight for your rights, but it is to fight for the right of every individual that is taking a breath, whose heart is pumping and breathing on this earth. I am speaking today not just for the 'Me Toos,' because I was a 'Me Too,' but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence."
13. A notoriously all-male theater troupe welcomes women
Harvard University's Hasty Pudding, the nation's oldest collegiate theatrical organisation, announced in late January that it would finally allow women to join its ranks for the first time in 174 years. Amira Weeks, the group's student president, made the announcement before the start of a comedic roast of Mila Kunis.
14. More than 150 women read testimony at Larry Nassar's sentencing
The abuse women endured at the hands of Nassar was horrifying, and, because of their bravery, Nassar is finally being held accountable in the form of a 40 to 175 year prison sentence. Over the course of several days at Nassar's sentencing, more than 150 women detailed their stories of abuse before the court. Therapists told the New York Times the chance to testify and share their stories before watching justice be served may very well bring "tremendous relief" for the survivors. And shortly after the sentencing, the entire USA Gymnastics board resigned.
15. A record number of women run for Congress in the U.S
Continuing a trend from 2017, a record number of women are running for Congress across the United States — more than double that ran in 2016. By just February 20, NPR reported more than 400 women nationwide will be adding their name to congressional ballots in the 2018 midterm elections.
16. Emma Gonzalez becomes the face of the #NeverAgain movement
Just days after a mass shooting at her school that left 17 people dead, 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez gave a powerful speech at a rally for gun reform in Florida. "We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks," Gonzalez said. "Not because we're going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting." The rally marked the beginning of the #NeverAgain movement, and a march on Washington D.C. on March 24.
17. Meghan Markle says women's empowerment will be a priority for her
At an event in London in late February, Meghan Markle — the 36-year-old American actress who will soon join the British royal family by marrying Prince Harry — said that with Me Too and Time's Up, "there is no better time than to really continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people really helping to support them." She said women's empowerment will be big part of her agenda in her royal role.
18. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph ditch their heels at the Oscars
Haddish appeared to have a blast in general at the 2018 Oscars, but her intro with Rudolph was unquestionably the best of the night. The two walked out holding their high heels in their hands, and continued with a brief skit about how — despite efforts to recognise more people of color in Hollywood and at the Oscars — the awards are still very white.
19. Frances McDormand calls for more inclusion riders in her Oscars speech
In accepting the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDormand asked every woman in the room who was nominated for an award that night to stand and be recognised. Camera pans showed a lot of tears and a truly wonderful group hug shared by the best actress nominees — and McDormand wasn't even finished yet. She concluded her speech with a mic drop that almost-too-neatly summarised the whole vibe of the 2018 Oscars: "Inclusion rider."
20. Frida Khalo, Misty Copeland, Chloe Kim, and other historic women get their own Barbie dolls
To celebrate International Women's Day, Mattel is releasing a "Shero" line of Barbie dolls that includes female role models like Amelia Earhart, ballerina Misty Copeland, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, model Ashley Graham, and gymnast Gabby Douglas. In a tweet announcing the Shero dolls, the brand said: "With 86% of moms worried about the type of role models their daughters are exposed to, we are committed to shining a light on empowering female role models in an effort to inspire more girls."
with additions from H/T Cosmo US