The Year’s Top 10 Women’s Movements Victories

The Global Fund for Women celebrates the extraordinary victories by women's movements around the world.

By Hatty Lee Mar 11, 2011

This past Tuesday was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and March is Women’s History Month. In honor of women around around the world, the Global Fund for Women looks back over the past year and celebrates the extraordinary victories by women’s movements around the world. We first spotted it over at Ms. Magazine.

Domestic Workers to Win Workers’ Rights

Domestic workers worldwide organized and advocated to extend basic labor protections. Domestic workers, mostly women of color, are employed as nannies, servants or maids. There has been a long history of exploitation and workers are highly vulnerable to abuse such as working long hours, unfair wages, sexual or physical abuse and no job protection. This huge victory extends protections to the millions of women employed in this workforce. 

Women and Girls Get a Strong Voice at the UN

In 2010, the United Nations created the UN General Assembly of UN Women, or the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Undersecretary General Michelle Bachelet said at the launch in February, "It took four years of hard work to realize the dream of millions of women and girls, to have a global champion at the UN who can lead the efforts to translate their hopes of a better world into reality."

First Successful Use of CEDAW in Rape Case

Women won a historic victory in the Philippines when the first rape case was decided under CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). The UN committee ruled that the Philippines government violated the rights of a rape survivor whose case was dismissed based on "gender-based myths and stereotypes."

Court Rules Against Ireland’s Ban on Abortion

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that abortion, in certain cases, should be legalized in Ireland. The ban violated the rights of pregnant women to receive proper medical care in life-threatening cases. This is a huge victory for reproductive rights, as this case establishes the ECHR as a defender of reproductive rights.

Mass March for Women and Peace in Congo

20,000 women and men gathered in Bukava, in eastern Congo to march against war and gender violence. The peaceful march lasted three days, and 220 women from 41 countries joined the march in solidarity. These courageous women reclaimed the streets and made violence against women a visible presence. They proclaimed, "we are all survivors, we’re still here, and we’re marching together for the women of the Congo."

Nationality Laws Sweep Middle East

In Libya, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen, nationality laws were passed that grant women equal treatment under the law and ensure that their children will not be denied citizenship of their own country regardless of the nationality of the father. The laws also guarantee women and children access to education, health care and employment.

Nigerian Women Defeat Nudity Bill

A great victory for Nigerian women and girls when the Nudity Bill, which imposed state control over girls’ and women’s bodies, was defeated. The bill punished women over the age of 14 for wearing necklines lower than two inches or clothing that exposed any parts of their belly, waist or thighs. Violaters would have had to pay a fine of $65 to $325 or serve up to six months in jail. It also lowered the marriage age of girls down to 14 years.

Argentina Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. The Argentinean Civil code now describes matrimony as a union between a "couple" versus "man and woman." Now, same-sex couples have the same social rights as heterosexual couples. 

Maternal Deaths Drop by 34 Percent

According to a studies done by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, the number of women dying during pregnancy or childbirth has decreased by more than one-third over the last 30 years. Since 1987, 950 women-led organizations have worked to improve maternal and reproductive health care access for women in 121 countries.

Revolution by the People: Tunisia, Egypt and Beyond

Women have played a pivotal role in the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The revolutions was a space for women across class and religion to work together and demand freedom from their government. Akiba Solomon wrote about the Egyptian women of the revolution. And the movement is moving to other countries as well such as Bahrain, Libya, Morrocco and Saudi Arabia