Inspiring Women of 2014
By admin December 29, 2014



As 2014 comes to a close it is important to look back and reflect on the events, accomplishments and downfalls that occurred throughout the year. While 2014 experienced great triumphs and failures throughout all communities worldwide, many women made great strides in helping increase the voice for women and girls and their universal human rights.

One major event that occurred in 2014 in regards to women was when Malala Yousafzai was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest person to ever receive the prestigious award. Malala Yousafzai won the prize for risking her life to protect the rights of children and girls after being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 because she was attending school. Since then, Malala has used her voice to fight for child, specifically girls, rights and to help increase education access for girls globally.

Another important woman who received far less press is Saudi Arabia’s Bayan Mahmoud al-Zahran. Al-Zahran opened the country’s first female law firm in January 2014, just three months after the first four women in the country were granted licenses to practice law. The law firm will focus on representing women and bringing women’s rights issues to the courts. The law firm has the possibility to bring many gender related issues to the forefront in the country and al-Zahran hopes that it will inspire more women to stand up for their rights.

Turkey’s Benal Yazgan is yet another important woman of 2014. She and her supporters started the first women’s party, Kadin Partisi, in Turkey to “fight against gender discrimination and inequality in society, as well as discrimination based on religion, language, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, and fight against military and civil coups and hate speech.” The party’s overall goal is to increase women’s representation within the government in the hopes to increase women’s rights including laws promoting equality. The first election the party will be able to participate in will be the parliamentary elections in 2015.

The world was in shock in April 2014 when 276 schoolgirls were abducted from the Chibok secondary school in Nigeria by militant group, Boko Haram. The event took to social media and spread rapidly, with most people, today, understanding what #BringBackOurGirls is all about. Local Nigerian activist and uprising political figure, Hadiza Bala Usman, was responsible for the global campaign that has raised the world’s awareness not only of the abduction but of the challenges faced by women and girls when trying to access their basic rights as well as to the sruggle Nigeria and much of West Africa has dealt with in combating Boko Haram. Usman’s #BringBackOurGirls campaign is ongoing and still working to try to find the over 200 schoolgirls that are still missing.

While there are many individual women who have made a difference, many women also came together in numbers to voice their concerns. These women formed groups to stand up for their rights throughout 2014 and they also deserve to be recognized. Despite Taliban threats to attack women at polling stations in Afghanistan during the first ever democratic elections, over 2.6 million women banded together and cast their vote, accounting for 38% of the total votes and possibly more importantly, showing the Taliban and world that they would not stay silent. And in Kenya, hundreds of women took the streets in Nairobi after a woman was stripped and beaten in the street for wearing a miniskirt. The women came together to defend their right to wear what they choose and show that sexual violence will not be tolerated in the country.

While the women mentioned here do not break the surface of all of the amazing women and men, young and old, who contributed to the fight for universal human rights, they are a great example of what a difference one or a few people can make. All of these women are paving the way to increased gender rights and helping change how some societies and communities view women and girls. Ideally, 2015 will provide us with more people following in their footsteps and contributing to the fight for human rights.

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