Continuing on our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important news stories of 2017.
This year has seen a snap general election from the second female Prime Minister; controversy over the BBC’s gender pay gap; and Saudi Arabia ruling that women can drive and visit sport stadiums.
We look forward to bringing you all the latest news, debates and thought-provoking articles in 2018!
The start of 2017 saw thousands of gay and bisexual men pardoned of now abolished sexual offences, under new ‘Turing’s Law’.
The new Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent, enshrining, in law, pardons for those convicted of consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was decriminalised.
Dick is the first female to have been appointed to the role in the force’s 188 year history. Dick, a former acting Deputy Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, took over from Sir Bernand Hogan-Howe, who held the post since 2011.
March was a good month for female representation, with the Tower of London appointing its first female Beefeater in ten years. Amanda Clark, 42, previously served with the Royal Logistics Corps and completed tours in Germany, Bosnia, the Falkland Islands and Iraq.
Oxford University also announced that it had commissioned over 20 new portraits to reflect the university’s diversity. Those who sat for portraits included BBC journalist, Reeta Chakrabarti; women in science campaigner, Anne-Marie Imafidon; and lawyer and disability rights campaigner, Marie Tidball.
We also celebrated Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday. Lynn is best known for singing “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover”. In celebration of her birthday, a 350ft image of Lynn was projected onto the white cliffs of Dover.
In April, Prime Minister Theresa May surprised the British public by calling for a snap election. May described the decision as one of “reluctance” but argued that the country needs a “strong and stable leadership” to get through Brexit and beyond.
The Women’s Equality Party seized the snap election and announced that it would be targeting its first Westminster seat.
It was also announced that WE leader, Sophie Walker would stand against MP Philip Davies in Shipley. Davies had previously hit the headlines for his comments on feminism and women’s equality. Described as an ‘anti-feminist’ Davies claimed that “feminist zealots” exaggerate gender inequalities in the UK.
May saw thousands of female employees win their landmark equal pay case against Glasgow City Council. The Court of Session ruled that the council had discriminated against low-paid female workers.
The council’s previous salary systems meant that women were excluded from bonuses for many years, while payment protections upheld male colleagues’ earnings.
In sport news, it was announced that the German Football Association had appointed Bibiana Steinhaus as one of the four new referees in the Bundesliga. The appointment makes Steinhaus the first ever female to referee the competition.
It was also reported that broadcaster Beth Mowins was to become the first female NFL announcer in 30 years.
June saw the opening of Parliament and the Queen’s speech, in which she urged the government to make ‘further progress to tackle gender pay gap’.
The Queen, upon announcing the government’s agenda for the coming year, said, “My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, fath, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”
It was a good month for the LGBT community, as Germany voted to legalise gay marriage, by a clear majority.
The reform will give same-sex couples full marital rights, as well as allowing them to adopt children.
July saw the BBC reveal its controversial gender pay gap, with only a third of women amongst the organisation’s highest earners.
The BBC released the wages of its biggest stars for the first time, revealing that Claudia Winkleman is the highest paid woman, earning £450,000; while Chris Evans is the highest paid man, earning £2.2 million.
The BBC announcement caused a media frenzy, with at least ten female presenters considering legal action, claims that male stars could be forced to take a pay cut, and calls from social campaigners for action to be taken.
There was also outrage on the other side of the pond, as President Donald Trump banned transgender people from serving in the US military.
Trump declared that transgender people will not be welcome in “any capacity” in the military, making the announcement on his Twitter account.
Google came under fire in August, when it was reported that an employee sent a ‘anti-diversity’ manifesto to staff. The manifesto claimed that men are paid more than women because of “biology” not sexism. It also called for an end to the company’s current diversity policy.
Google suffered further when it was revealed that over 60 women were considering suing the company over sexism and pay claims.
August also dealt a blow to same-sex marriage campaigners in Northern Ireland after the High Court dismissed two landmarks cases challenging the ban.
Mr Justice O’Hara rejected both cases, insisting continuing the ban did not violate the rights of LGBT couples in Northern Ireland.
September saw a historic royal decree in Saudi Arabia that would allow women to drive. The decree is expected to be fully implemented by 2018.
September was also the month that German Chancellor, Angela Merkel was elected into office for the fourth time. Merkel’s party, Christian Democratic Union, together with its ally party, the Christian Social Union, achieved 33 per cent of the total votes. Merkel’s victory means that she has become the longest-standing female head of state to date.
October saw the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, which allowed women to terminate a pregnancy in certain circumstances.
The act permitted women to end a pregnancy in England, Wales and Scotland, but was never applied in Northern Ireland.
Also in October, it was reported that Saudi Arabia would allow women into sports stadiums for the first time from next year.
In November, it was revealed that Sarah Clarke had become the first female Black Rod in 650 years.
The House of Lords have appointed Clarke to the post, the first time a female has been given the role since 1361.
She will now organise ceremonial events and manage a team of 30 staff involved in the day-to-day running of the House of Lords.
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