Forbes Middle East

2020’s Biggest Wins For Women

Last year the world witnessed some significan­t moments for women’s rights and gender parity. From new laws to more senior leadership representa­tion, here are some of last year’s groundbrea­king wins for women.

- By Jamila Gandhi

Last year the world witnessed some significan­t moments for women’s rights and gender parity. From new laws to more senior leadership representa­tion, here are some of last year’s groundbrea­king wins for women.

Firsts In American Politics

In November, Kamala Harris became the first woman in American history elected to the vice presidency, shattering barriers that have kept men entrenched at the highest levels of American politics for many years.

The California native is no stranger to firsts. In 2010, Harris became the first

African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general. In 2016, Harris was the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. In August of 2020, she became the first Black woman and first Asian-American woman to appear on a major political party’s presidenti­al ticket. Forbes ranked the 56-year-old

vice-president-elect of the U.S. third on its list of the world’s most powerful women in 2020.

President Joe Biden also announced an all-women senior communicat­ions team, marking another first for the White House. At least 131 women are set to serve in the U.S. Congress in 2021, surpassing the 2019 record of 127 women, according to the Center of American Women and Politics.

Kuwait Introduces Domestic Violence Law

In September, Kuwait issued a law on domestic violence protection, signaling a historic victory for the nation’s women’s rights lobbyists. The bill set the minimum standard and legal protection procedures for domestic violence victims to maintain family unity without threatenin­g its stability in society.

As per the law, domestic violence is defined as “physical, psychologi­cal, sexual or financial mistreatme­nt, whether in words or actions.” The regulation will encourage abuse victims to report assaults and enable the Minister of Social Affairs to build special teams to investigat­e and follow up domestic violence cases.

First Arab Woman Appointed As IPA President

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi became the first woman from the Arab world and only the second woman ever to be appointed as Internatio­nal Publishers Associatio­n (IPA) President since the organizati­on was founded in 1896. The historic announceme­nt was made in November, with Bodour to formally take over her new role in January. She has been serving as vice president since her election to the post at the 2018 General Assembly. Bodour is only the second woman after Ana Maria Cabanellas of Argentina to be appointed as President in IPA’s 124-year history. IPA is among the world’s most prestigiou­s federation­s of national and regional publishers’ organizati­ons. Based in Geneva, Switzerlan­d, the institutio­n’s members comprise over 83 organizati­ons from 69 countries.

The U.A.E.’s New Equal Pay Law

In September, the president of the U.A.E., Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a decree to ensure equal pay for both men and women in the private sector.

As per the Decree of Federal Law No.06 for 2020, “female employees shall receive wages equal to that of males if they perform the same work or another of equal value. The procedures, controls, and standards

Caroline Hagen Kjos necessary for evaluating work of equal value will be set under a decision to be issued by the Cabinet, based on a proposal from the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratizat­ion.”

In the UN Developmen­t Programme’s 2019 Gender Inequality Index, the U.A.E. climbed 23 places to rank first in the Arab region and 26th globally.

Scientific Achievemen­ts At Nobel 2020

The Nobel prizes, which remain very much a man’s world, named four female laureates in October.

French researcher Emmanuelle Charpentie­r and American biochemist Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a technology that can rewrite DNA in cells. The duo’s win is only the third time in Nobel history that a woman or an all-female team have taken the chemistry prize after Marie Curie and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin won it in 1911 and 1964, respective­ly. The honor also marks the first time in the chemistry prize’s history that two women won without sharing the prize with a man.

Astronomer and physics professor Andrea Ghez was also part of the science awardees, sharing the Nobel Prize for Physics. She made history as the fourth woman ever to win the prize in physics, an accolade first achieved by Marie Curie in 1903. American poet and professor of English at Yale University, Louise Gluck, was awarded the Literature Prize.

Since its inception in 1901, only 58 women have been recognized with a Nobel prize, representi­ng only 6.2% of the 934 laureates overall, as per AFP data.

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Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi

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