OK, so the gender pay gap is still there and we continue to pay tampon tax but let’s take a moment to focus on the positives. Here are some small, but significant, feminist milestones from 2015.
1. More female MPs
The 2015 election saw more female MPs elected than ever before. OK, so there’s still a long way to go — only 29 percent of MPs are women — but it’s a big improvement on the 22 percent elected last time around, meaning we’re heading in the right direction.
2. Shared parental leave
A new law passed in April means parents (whether by birth or adoption) can now divide parental leave however they like. Under the new arrangements parents can take up to 50 weeks off — split between them — following the first two weeks after birth and receive statutory pay. This simple but game-changing change to the country’s maternity/paternity system will hopefully mean less pressure on women to stay at home, rather than go back to work.
3. #ThisGirlCan campaign
Launched in January 2015, Sport England’s #ThisGirlCan campaign won the Gold Lion Award for tackling gender inequality and encouraging girls to take up sports. Throughout the year the campaign used major events like Wimbledon and the women’s football World Cup to break down the barriers that often stop women getting involved in sport.
More: 10 Inspirational firsts that prove women can do literally anything
4. Laura Kuenssberg appointed BBC Political Editor
Newsnight‘s Laura Kuenssberg was appointed as Political Editor of the BBC, following Nick Robinson’s move to Radio Four after a decade in the role. Kuenssberg is the first woman to ever hold this position — and hopefully she won’t be the last.
5. Emma Watson’s campaign for gender equality
Emma Watson and the #HeForShe campaign reminded us what feminism is really about: gender equality to benefit both women and men. In her role as a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Watson called on men to support gender equality — and asked the world at large to rethink their views on feminism. It remains an emotive, oft misunderstood, subject but what the campaign did was start conversations all over the world and force us to consider how gender inequality does a disservice to men as well as women.
6. Suffragette is released
The fight for a woman’s right to vote was finally recognised on the big screen with the release of Suffragette, which had a female director, screenwriter and producer and a largely female crew. When activists from Sisters Uncut hijacked the red carpet at the London premiere, to protest funding cuts to domestic violence charities, the occasion became both a celebration of what women have achieved and a reminder that there is still a lot we need to fight for.
7. Gender neutral toys
Following in the footsteps of numerous independent retailers, several large companies stopped differentiating between “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys” in 2015. In May Amazon.co.uk customers noticed that the site no longer had gender categories for its toy department and in November Toys R Us also dropped gender categories from their U.K. website.
Let Toys Be Toys, a group of British activists, have a list of toy companies who don’t adhere to traditional gender stereotypes on their website and continue to campaign for gender neutral toy categorisation in our shops and online.