By Zoe Colgin
January 2, 2018
2017 was a whirlwind year, chock-full of important triumphs and challenges for the global community. For those of us working to end violence against women and children, 2017 was marked by renewed momentum and important global conversations. As we set our sights on the year ahead, let’s rewind and take a look back at some of those significant moments that punctuated the past year: the highlights 2017.
1. Women’s Marches Across the World Set Powerful Tone for 2017
On January 21, 2017, nearly a half million Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. People marched in solidarity with women to take a stand against wage inequality, gender-based violence and other issues facing women around the world. The March on Washington ignited women’s movements around the world, inspiring peaceful demonstrations in New York City, Chicago, Toronto, Paris, London, and even Antarctica – setting a powerful tone that 2017 would be the year of and for women.
2. Malawi, Honduras and Guatemala Banned Child Marriage in a Landmark Victory for Children’s Rights
2017 was an especially important year for the rights of children, girls in particular. Malawi, Honduras, and Guatemala all enacted laws banning child marriage and closing any remaining loopholes that allowed child marriage with parental consent. For countries like Malawi, where one in every two girls are married before the age of 18, this is truly a landmark victory that has the power to change the lives of thousands of young girls and boys. We are hopeful that more countries around the globe will follow suit and commit to ending child marriage.
3. Spotlight Initiative to Bring an End to Violence Against Women and Girls Launched
On September 20, the European Union and the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative, a historic global initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. The goal of the initiative is to put violence at the center of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
4. #MeToo Movement Brought a Moment of Reckoning
In October 2017, women adopted a powerful battle cry created by Tarana Burke, #MeToo, and a groundswell of sexual harassment and assault cases were brought to light. The #MeToo movement forced societies everywhere into a moment of reflection, inspiring a necessary debate about unacceptable attitudes and the culture of silence around sexual violence. Now, more powerful men are being held accountable for their actions and the silence that has surrounded sexual harassment and violence, allowing it to persist, has been broken.
5. Cambodia Launched Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Children
In 2013, Cambodia was the first country in Southeast Asia to undertake and launch the Violence Against Children Survey, led by CDC as part of the Together for Girls partnership. On December 11, the Government of Cambodia announced the launch of its first ever Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Violence against Children 2017- 2021, marking another positive step forward in the country’s commitment to ending all forms of violence against children.
6. Strong Female Leads Took Over Screens Worldwide
From Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, to Millie Bobbie Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things 2, to Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, and Emilia Clarke in her return performance as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones season 7, powerful female leads took over television and film throughout 2017. In addition to these leading ladies, we also draw inspiration from our 16 Global Heroes, real people who are working every day to end violence against women and children around the world.
Women and girls worldwide claimed 2017 as the year of and for women, proving that there is strength in numbers, power in awareness, and influence in every voice. 2017 was the year we shattered the silence surrounding violence against women and children and gained important momentum, which we must harness in 2018 to create lasting change for generations to come. With each of these important developments behind us, what await us on the horizon in 2018 is promising. Though there is still much to be done, we know we are up to the challenge.