As we look back on a year of goals kicked for women and girls, we're preparing for another year of wins in 2016. We've seen you get behind countless causes, people and campaigns demanding a fairer world and we can see your collective voice making change. Gender equality is no longer on the backburner – it’s taking front and centre.
To celebrate, here are ten achievements the whole world can be proud of. Let's keep it up.
1. Guatemela bans child marriage
The minimum age to marry was lifted from 14 years old to 18 for girls in Guatemala – a huge victory for the country. Unicef says one-quarter of births are to teenage mothers, one of the highest rates in Latin America. This legislation is likely to reduce this number, allowing more girls to attend school, marry and have children when they're ready.
2. The world signs up to ending inequality
Could gender inequality be a thing of the past? It sounds like a lofty dream now, but earlier this year world leaders committed to achieving 17 Global Goals to achieve by 2030 with gender equality being Goal Five. Learn more about the goal here.
3. Canada’s PM drops a truth bomb
During the swearing-in of Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he was asked by a reporter why he thought it was so important to build a cabinet that had an equal number of women and men. The prime minister replied: "Because it's 2015." Boom.
4. Angela Merkel named Time Magazine 'Person of the Year'
Germany's Angela Merkel is the first woman to earn the title since 1986. A win, or a reminder how long Time Magazine has failed to recognise women? Either way, we’re pleased to see her on the cover of Time for her leadership on groundbreaking economic and migration policies. One of Merkel’s most celebrate achievements was her open-door refugee policy in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.
5. Australia finally got a Minister for Women – who is a woman!
For those playing at home, it’s not the winky former PM pictured. Our former Minister for Women didn’t do a whole lot, but that didn’t stop him from claiming the position for a whole 18 months. This year, Australia scored a new Minister for Women, who, also happens to be a woman – makes more sense, huh? Our new Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, demonstrated her passion for gender equality when she supported Plan International’s campaign against child marriage last year.
6. Rosie Batty wins Australian of the Year, while making gender-based violence a priority
This year’s Australian of the Year goes towards family violence campaigner Rosie Batty. Batty has risen above personal experience to champion the efforts to fight domestic violence with strength and courage – now, Australia is finally paying attention to the epidemic that kills thousands of women every year.
7. Historic #ParisAgreement signed by kick-ass climate activist Christiana Figueres
Almost 200 countries have signed onto ensuring the world’s temperature remains “well below” two degrees. This is not only a massive win for everyone impacted by climate change, but it’s also a win for women’s leadership. Christiana Figueres has spent much of her career travelling the world, advocating for climate action. Now she’s put pen to paper in a world-changing deal. Read her incredible story here.
8. Marriage equality in USA and Ireland
LBGT women celebrated in the United States and Ireland which declared same-sex marriage as legal. Australia, are you next?
9. The Gambia bans FGM
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is widely condemned as a violation of human rights. But it's still commonly practiced worldwide. This year, The Gambia’s President Jammeh has declared it as a practice “no longer required.” An incredible step in the right direction for the world’s girls.
10. Women elected to office in Saudi Arabia for the first time
In a country where women can’t drive a car, or move around without a male chaperone, this is a huge step for Saudi Arabia. At least 17 women have been elected to public office after 979 women candidates registered to participate in the election. The role of women in Saudi Arabia is changing, with female workforce increasing too. Keep it up, Saudi Arabia.
Plan International advocates for the rights of women and girls all year round. Learn more about our Because I am a Girl campaign.