As we close the chapter of 2021 and enter a new year, let's take a look back at some of the great moments in December to celebrate women.
Though we need to progress faster than we have been for the advancement of women's rights, we want to make sure we acknowledge and commend the small milestones that have taken place. Every positive story is a small step towards gender equality, and we should be proud of everyone who joins us on our mission.
1) Walt Disney elected a woman to chair its board for the first time in their 98-year history
Susan Arnold, who has been a Disney board member for 14 years, succeeded Bob Iger at the end of 2021. She has also served in senior roles at some of America's biggest companies.
"As I step into this new role as chairman of the board, I look forward to continuing to serve the long-term interests of Disney's shareholders and working closely with CEO Bob Chapek as he builds upon the company's century-long legacy of creative excellence and innovation," Ms Arnold said in a statement.
2) Shenseea became the first woman to win a MOBO Award for ‘Best Reggae Act’
Dancehall star Shenseea is the first female artist to win the Reggae Award since its inception in 1996.
Among her new releases of the year was Run Run, which currently has 6.7 million views on YouTube since its release in July 2021, while Be Good, released in August 2021, stands at 3.9 million.
Shenseea, 25, shared the news via her official Instagram page with her 4.7 million followers. “I won a Mobo Award 🔥@moboawards Thank you to all who voted 💋”
3) The Women's FA Cup Final was watched by 1.3 million viewers on BBC
A peak audience of 1.3 million watched Chelsea beat Arsenal on 5th December's delayed 2020-21 FA Cup final on BBC One.
There were a further 160,000 live-stream requests for the match, which Chelsea won 3-0.
The record audience for a women's club match on British television remains Manchester City's 2019 FA Cup final win against West Ham, which was watched by 2.2 million on BBC One.
4) Sport England announced they will launch female-focused exercise classes to address gender imbalance in physical activity levels
GPs are to begin prescribing “judgment-free” fitness classes for women seeking help with conditions including diabetes and depression.
Designed by Sport England, 'This Girl Can' classes will be launched across the country in 2022, drawing on the success of its award-winning campaign of the same name.
This Girl Can was launched after research showed women wanted to be more active, but were held back by fear of being judged.
Drawing on disciplines including boxing, dancing and yoga, the lower-intensity sessions are designed to be inclusive and appealing to women who are intimidated by the idea of group exercise or have had negative experiences previously, with attendees encouraged to “do your worst”.
5) Simone Biles is named TIME Athlete of the Year 2021
Time magazine named Team USA gymnast Simone Biles the 2021 Athlete of the Year.
Biles took a mental health break during the Tokyo Olympics this summer before returning to compete in the finals on the balance beam, winning a bronze medal for her seventh career medal at the Games. She also won silver as part of the team competition in Tokyo.
"At that point, it was no longer about medalling, but about getting back out there," Biles told Time. "I wanted to compete at the Olympics again and have that experience that I came for. I didn't really care about the outcome. On that beam, it was for me."
6) France adopted a law forcing large companies to raise the number of women in top management positions
The move comes a decade after France made it mandatory for big businesses to have women make up at least 40 percent of their boards, but the government said this initiative had failed to trickle down into executive positions.
The MP sponsoring the law, Marie-Pierre Rixain, said it was seeking "real economic and professional equality" for women by calling for companies of more than 1,000 staff to have at least 30 percent women among top managers and in leadership committees by 2027, and at least 40 percent by 2030. Companies will also have to publish their progress on the labour ministry's website every year, exposing themselves to possible naming and shaming.
7) India’s government is raising the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21
India’s government has decided to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years, in a bid to empower young women and deter child marriage - a move that activists described as necessary, but still far short of being enough to solve more deep-rooted societal problems.
The move will make the marriageable age for women equal to that of men, which already stands at 21.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet approved the proposal, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency, well over a year after Mr Modi said the matter was under discussion by a task force during his 2020 Independence Day address.
8) Christmas Day marked the first time a woman in hijab has anchored the news in Connecticut
When Ayah Galal anchored WFSB’s Christmas morning news coverage, it marked the first time a woman in hijab has anchored the news in Connecticut.
“It’s truly an honor to be able to share and tell stories in my home state,” Galal said.
Galal double majored in journalism and political science at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, where she was involved with Q30 Television, the student-run television station on campus, before graduating in 2018.
After anchoring Saturday, Galal said she received an outpouring of support from viewers, friends, family and the public.
9) In other news... One presenter made history as she became the first person with a traditional lower chin tattoo to anchor primetime news bulletin
Oriini Kaipara, 37, has a moko kauae, a traditional lower chin tattoo worn by Māori women. She got the tattoo after a DNA test in 2017 revealed she is 100 per cent Māori
Last month, the Auckland mother-of-four became the first primetime news presenter with a face tattoo.
She told local media: “It’s breaking new ground for us as Māori, but also for people of colour. Whether you’ve got a moko kauae or not.”
10) Celebrating the life of Golden Girl Betty White
Trailblazing actress and Golden Girls star Betty White passed on 31st December, weeks before her 100th birthday.
White's film and TV career spanned eight decades. She created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls”.
She capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99.
US President Joe Biden, and actors Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon, were just some of the big names to pay tribute to the star. Reynolds, who was White's co-star in the 2009 film The Proposal, tweeted: "The world looks very different now. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We'll miss you, Betty."
By Holly Droy