We have embarked upon the season when all journalists worth their salt will be compiling — many by editorial force — yearly lists. Readers will see the top news stories and photos, as well as predictions on what will carry into 2019. But there is only one word you need to remember: women.
Women are the story of the year; their actions as well as those taken against them inspiring the indelible images and soundtrack of 2018. Women — traditional and unconventional — are the must-watch of 2019, and beyond.
No, I’m not only talking about national marches and politics, although American women have harnessed the energy (and outrage) of 2017 and doubled down against attempts to diminish their power or silence their voices. In November, Americans officially were introduced to the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Iowans, although it hasn’t gotten the same level of attention, sent the second youngest, Abby Finkenauer.
During the midterm election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, women contributed roughly $19 million to Republican women congressional candidates. On the Democratic side, women gave more than $159 million to women candidates — outpacing what they gave to male candidates. Part of this is numbers. Democrats fielded more women candidates than Republicans, and they also elected more. Nearly 80 percent of the women elected to Congress are Democrats. Of the 43 women of color elected, only one is Republican.
When looking at the country as a whole, Democrats won 59 percent of college-educated women in the midterm election. And, when looking across the globe, the landscape is largely the same. Women are coming together as a force for change.
Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo says women are uniting in response to “many so-called ‘tough guy’ leaders” who are “pushing a sexist, racist and homophobic political agenda.” In Brazil, she notes president-elect Jair Bolsonaro publicly taunted women about rape and laughed at those seeking equal pay. Leaders in Poland and Guatemala have advocated for stricter abortion laws. Women have rallied worldwide — Latin Americans using the hashtag #NiUnaMenos to take a stand, Spanish and Indian women rallying against violence, and Saudi women successfully protesting a driving ban.
“Women are showing the kind of resilience we need moving forward to address human rights in a world which is moving in the wrong direction,” she said.
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According to a report released Monday by Amnesty International, which commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these “tough guy” leaders have renewed threats that previous generations of women thought they already had overcome. Women, worldwide, no longer are willing to quietly endure. Even if it means giving their lives, which some women did, they are demanding justice and change.
This isn’t a moment that glitters and fades, but a purposeful, global movement — and it still is just getting started.
• Comments: @LyndaIowa, (319) 368-8513, firstname.lastname@example.org