Best of 2014: from family planning initiatives to comic books, WATC reveals our favorite moments from last year

There is no doubt that in 2015 and years to come we will need to work very hard to ensure that girls and women have the rights they need to determine their future. Although there were some set backs in 2014, such as the 2 cases in Texas to ban abortion and the Hobby Lobby case that would enable employers to impose their beliefs on employees; 2014 also had awesome moments where women, activists, and even politicians laid down strong foundations for women’s rights. Here is a list of our top 10 favorite moments in 2014:

 

1. Contraceptive program in Colorado drops teen pregnancies 40%

In 2009 the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, funded by a private anonymous donor, began providing young women with free or low cost IUDs. Across Colorado, 68 clinics have been offering this service and 30,000 iuds have been distributed. The results of this program have been pretty amazing; the birth rate among teens in Colorado feel from 37 births per 1,000 teens, ages 15-19, in 2009 to 22 births in 2013, the abortion rate from 2009 to 2012 dropped 35% and in 2010 Colorado saved 42.5 million dollars in healthcare expenditures. This program is so awesome because education and long-lasting contraception drive it: girls and women using this method and going to these clinics and becoming educated about repro-health can avoid using contraception incorrectly or inconsistently.

2. UN Women founded HeForShe Campaign

The HeForShe Campaign http://www.heforshe.org launched in September 2014. This is a solidarity campaign for gender equality and calls upon men and boys to speak up and stand up for women’s rights. HeforShe asks men and all people to made this commitment, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls”.

3. Malala Yousafzai won 2014 Nobel Peace Prize 

In 2014 Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. At the age of 11, Malala, started to amplify her voice and began blogging so that girls in Pakistan could have the right to a quality education. In 2012, Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman because of her activism and effort to empower young women. Since then she has made a remarkable recovery, has written a memoir, “I am Malala”, and has created the Malala Fund, which supports girls’ education around the world. The fund also supports local leaders and social entrepreneurs in rural places around the world, whose efforts effect education and women’s empowerment. Malala’s efforts support our belief that when women are educated they can make healthier and smarter choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

4. Eve Ensler stands up for women’s rights at 2014 Bioneers Conference 

Playwright, activist, and feminist, Eve Ensler brought down the house at the Bioneers Conference in October with her speech that brought women’s issues to the surface. She uses the character Eve, from the creation story, as a archetype for all women who have been controlled and damned for wanting independence. Ensler tells the audience that women’s rights are at the center of environmental justice and also shines light how oppression towards women is detrimental to all society; Ensler states, “Violence towards women cannot be separated from all the other violences, whether they be economic, environmental, racial, or gender, we are in the same story!” Check out her speech here.

5. Sustainable World Info-graphic 

We just love when a great info-graphic comes around which links together some of our favorite things: basic health, women’s empowerment, and access to contraception. Thank you Melinda Gates for tweeting this! Click the info-graphic for a larger version.

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6. Madagascar Population Health and Environment Network 

Madagascar Population Health and Environmental Network (PHE) is a multifaceted approach to sustainable development, combining health education and services with natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. PHE started with projects linking community-based natural resource management and voluntary family planning services around protected areas during the 1990s. In 2014 PHE released a report on the progress and results of this holistic and integrated work. Moving into 2015 WATC encourage environmental groups, reproductive health and women’s rights groups to check out this report and learn from the interconnected model that PHE has been implementing.

7. Invest in Girls and Women, Everybody Wins 2014 Toolkit

Women Deliver (WD) “brings together diverse voices and interests to share solutions and drive progress in maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights”. In 2014 WD put together this really cool toolkit so that anyone can help spread awareness about girls education, family planning, repro-rights, and gender equality. We love this toolkit because the info-grpahics and data are to the point, various issues are represented, and this toolkit gives agency to individuals anywhere to advocate for women;s and girls health and education.

8. Emma Watson’s UN Speech on Feminism and Climate Change 

In September 2014, Emma Watson aka “Hermione” delivered a speech at the United Nations Headquarters about feminism and gender equality. During her speech and literally right outside those UN doors, thousands of people were marching for the Peoples Climate March. This was a moment where the issues Emma was speaking about i.e. education, reproductive health, fair wages, related very much to the Environmental and Climate conversations happening outside. Yet, mainstream media or Watson herself did not make that link. Nonetheless the speech was powerful and those messages Watson delivered most definitely need to heard by our world leaders. And hopefully, in 2015 we will see speakers become better at connecting the dots between women’s rights/gender equality and issues like environmental justice, climate change, economy etc. etc.

9. One Women t a Time: A healthy Africa begins with healthy mothers and children

This awesome article highlights the amazing and innovative efforts being taken to help solve population growth and women’s health issues. The article states, “Health and development experts, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations agree that empowering women to make educated family- planning choices is the most effective way to solve Africa’s population crisis, whether via radio soap operas that present small families as role models, well-digging programs that enable girls to stay in school longer, or a pop-up nail salon where teens feel comfortable asking reproductive-health questions”. These creative ways of addressing community needs is exactly the type of action Women at the Center wants to see more of in 2015.

10. Priyas Shakti 

Priya’s Shakti is a super cool multimedia project that engages both youth and adults and spreads awareness about rape and social issues in India. Inspired by the powerful anti-rape movement in India, filmmaker Ram Devineni, created the comic Priya’s Shakti. Priya is a rape survivor and the heroine of the comic. With the help of Goddess Parvati, the goddess of love, fertility and devotion, Priya fights gender-based sexual violence around the world. This project is amazing on so many levels! First, art is being used empower women and create awareness, second the project includes real life stories of rape and violence towards but protects women’s identities by animating them, and finally, Hindu Mythology is integrated into the comic which is a very smart and inclusive move. By including hinduism in the comic Devineni honors the old paradigm while simultaneously shifting it. Support this project by reading the comic and using the hashtag, #IstandwithPriya. _79445401_priya_no_shadow