One year ago, on Jan. 21, 2017, the largest day of protests in the history of the United States took place: the 2017 Women’s March. This protest originated from the palpable tension many felt after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. After its conception, however, the campaign exploded, exponentially growing into something greater than just a protest against a particular president and inspiring the 2018 Women’s March on its anniversary.
The message of the 2017 Women’s March was heard around the world. From Washington to Kenya, Saudi Arabia and many more, women and men alike took to the streets and commenced their mission to obtain health, economic security, representation and safety. These are the four pillars that first brought millions of people from all different backgrounds together for the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches.
Although this is a step in the right direction, there are still many countries that need to recognize the strength of their female citizens. Here are several active issues that women in developing countries faced during the 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches.
According to the Constitution of Kenya, women are required to hold at least one-third of government positions. Unfortunately, this parameter has never been met since the constitution’s inception in 2010.
On Jan. 22, 2018, hundreds of Kenyan women marched in defiance of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had just recently dropped all of the female members of his Cabinet. The nine new nominees he chose were all be male. A petition has been established to require the government to follow its constitution, but the courts have, so far, remained silent.
A Driving Force
During the 2017 Women’s March, one of the largest issues that Saudi Arabian women fought for was their right to drive. This freedom has the power to vastly improve the lives of these women and the country as a whole.
Fortunately, their pleas were heard; on Sep. 26, 2017, a royal decree declared that, for the first time, Saudi Arabian women had the right to drive. Now, a few months later, the country has seen modest economic growth as women are given more freedoms, and thus are presented with more economic opportunities.
The Sky is the Limit
The next objective for Saudi Arabian women during the 2018 Women’s March was to allow women into the field of aviation. This new freedom is the brainchild of the Saudi Arabian government’s 2030 Vision, a strategy designed to relieve the country’s dependence on oil exports. The Saudi government may be giving women more freedom mostly in the pursuit of economic stability, but it is still a powerful victory for womankind.
In a country where more than half of the graduate degrees are earned by women, but only 20 percent of women are in the workforce, it is easy to find talent in this untapped market. Saudi Arabia may have a long way to go, but its quest for modernization should prove very beneficial to the country’s economy as well as its female population.
With the power of the Internet and modernization in general, developing countries like these can be a part of the global conversation. The 2017 and 2018 Women’s Marches are shining examples of what can happen when technology, activism and passion collide.
– Nicolas Lennan