2022: A year of fighting for women’s rights

2022: A year of fighting for women’s rights

This year has been especially turbulent for women. From the US to Afghanistan, progress made over the last few decades has been wiped out by efforts to erode basic rights. But these are pitted against the work of the women, girls and allies who continue to fight – whether it’s for the protection of their homes, their environment, their families or their very own bodily autonomy. Here is our round-up of 2022’s global fight for women’s rights. 

January 

Xiomara Castro becomes Honduras’ first female president after winning a landslide victory in the November 2021 elections. Castro won 51% of the vote share, after pledging to tackle corruption, poverty and violence, advance Indigenous rights and address gender-based violence in the country with the highest rate of femicides in Latin America. 

Muslim women in the southern Indian state of Karnataka protest the ban on wearing the hijab in schools. The ban is the latest move by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to stoke division between the country’s Hindu and Muslim populations. We spoke to human rights activist and author Rita Manchanda about the likelihood that India’s discriminatory policies could lead to genocide.

February 

The Beijing Winter Olympics sets a record for becoming the most gender-balanced edition in the history of the tournament, with women accounting for 45% of all athletes. 

On February 24th Russia invades Ukraine, with Russian president Vladimir Putin claiming this is a “special military operation” to “delimitarise and de-Nazify” the country. Reports soon emerge of widespread sexual violence by Russian forces, creating a joint epidemic of war trauma, sexual assault as a weapon and millions of Ukrainians becoming refugees. Read Yasmina Benslimane’s comment piece on Western media’s coverage of the war.

March

On International Women’s Day, women in Cameroon take to the streets to protest that not a single woman is among the country’s regional governors or council presidents. 

The Wages for Housework movement, which helped pave the way for the UN to recognise unpaid care work as work, turns 50. It continues to campaign for a care income for all caregivers of any gender. 

April 

Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed as the first African-American woman to serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Joe Biden following his commitment to address historical racial and gender imbalances on the highest court in the country’s judiciary system. 

May

Juana Alonzo Santizo is freed from prison in Mexico after being detained without trial for seven years. Juana, a Maya-Chuj migrant from Guatemala was arrested during a raid on a safe house used by criminals after she had been subjected to forced labour while trying to reach the US. She was interrogated without legal representation or an interpreter to help her understand the proceedings in Spanish, and was pressured to sign a statement confessing to human trafficking. She was released following a global campaign led by the  International Mayan League and the Promoters for the Liberation of the Migrant (PLM). 

June

The US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ruling that there is no federal constitutional right to abortion. Subsequently abortion became illegal in 13 states, where, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, women now have less bodily autonomy than in countries with historically repressive regimes. Michigan, California, Vermont and the Republican-leaning Kansas and Kentucky have since voted to protect reproductive rights. Social worker and human rights activist Tara Pretends Eagle Webber spoke to us about the impact of the ruling on Indigenous women across the US

Latin America’s “Green Wave” reaches Mexico as abortion becomes available upon request to women during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in 11 Mexican states. It follows similar changes to legislation in Chile and Colombia earlier this year. 

July

England win the women’s UEFA 2022 cup, with record-breaking numbers of viewers. A report by Women’s Sport Trust finds that the tournament has had a positive impact on the consumption of women’s sport in the UK, attracting a new female audience not limited to football. 

The Global Gender Gap Report 2022 is published, revealing it will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap.

August 
Economist Rufina Peter is elected governor of Papua New Guinea’s Central Province, the first woman elected to the country’s parliament in a decade.

This month also marks a year since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, eroding women’s rights overnight by banning women from public spaces, government jobs, schools, and travelling without a male guardian. 

Video surfaces of Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin drinking and dancing at a party. The backlash from politicians and the media reveals a troubling, sexist double standard. Add your voice to our campaign to end everyday sexism.

September

The UK’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II dies on September 8. As the country enters a ten-day mourning period, a number of former British colonies discuss leaving the commonwealth and becoming republics, as conversations arise around the Queen as a symbol of Britain’s brutal colonial past. 

A 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, dies while in police custody following her arrest for not wearing her hijab according to the government’s strict standards. While the authorities claim she had a pre-existing medical condition that caused her to have a heart attack, her death is widely condemned as the result of police brutality, leading to nationwide protests lasting months. The demonstrations become the largest showing of civil unrest since 2009, which Iran’s morality police respond to with violence. Female demonstrators remove their hijab and cut their hair in public as a symbol of protest, and marches take place around the world to show solidarity. 

Scotland’s Period Products Bill comes into effect, making it the first country in the world to provide period products for free. 

After the death of two female employees of Liberty Latin America at the hands of their partners, the multinational telecommunications company creates a policy to support members of the workforce experiencing gender-based violence. The company has made its guidelines available to the public to encourage other organisations to implement similar policies. 

October

Politics4Her launches a petition to legalise abortion in Morocco in cases of rape, incest & threat to health. 

Dr Jenan Bushehri and Alia Al Khaled are elected to Kuwait’s parliament, becoming the first women MPs elected to government in two years. Kuwaiti women earned the right to vote in 2005 and have been active in the cabinet and parliament, but there has never been more than four women MPs in office at the same time. 

November

Record numbers of women vote in the US midterms, choosing pro-choice candidates in six states. More Muslim women are elected to office than ever before, with 61% of Muslim women candidates winning their respective votes. Overall women of colour break records with 263 candidates running for the House of Representatives in 2022. 

The European Parliament passes a law to ensure more women will be represented on the boards of publicly traded companies by July 2026.

The global 16 Days of Activism campaign begins on November 25th to highlight gender-based violence. We wrote about six organisations that are fighting violence against women in their communities

Amnesty International highlights the use of sexual violence as a weapon in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It has previously been estimated that 90% of those assaulted are underage girls, and visits to one particular support centre have quadrupled since the conflict began in 2020. 

Investment bank JP Morgan announces it is giving 16 weeks of parental leave to new parents, in a landmark move for the US financial sector. 

December

American basketball player Brittney Griner is released from a Russian jail in a prisoner swap, after being detained since February for alleged drug smuggling. Russian authorities had found cartridges containing hash oil, however she later presents a doctor’s letter in court recommending she use cannabis as treatment for pain. 

A new report by Women in Global Health finds that while women make up 70% of the world’s global healthcare workforce, only 25% hold senior roles. The report also finds that the marginalisation of women in healthcare leadership roles enables sexual harassment.

Spain passes legislation that grants menstrual leave to women with painful periods. 


Leila Hawkins

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