Well we did it. Made it through another year. Now that 2015 is really here, we can focus a bit on the fact that in 2014 women have had some good news and some bad news with a bit of the ridiculous thrown in. But what with wars, floods, NFL domestic violence, police shootings and all the rest, we’ve probably missed a few things. So let’s review some items affecting the female sex both here and abroad that didn’t make the front pages in 2014:
Across the pond, Germany put in a 30 percent quota for women on corporate boards. That’s almost twice the U.S. rate — we have no quotas. Well, we have some, but they’re not written down. According to the research organization Catalyst, over 83 percent of corporate boards seats in the Fortune 500 are held by men. Sure looks like a quota to me.
In Saudi Arabia, the king’s advisory council has recommended that the government lift its ban on female drivers — but only for women over 30 with permission from a male relative. Women taking the wheel must be off the road by 8 p.m., and cannot wear makeup while driving. Muslim clerics are warning “licentiousness” will spread if women drive. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that two women are currently held in prison by authorities for driving, and their cases are pending before an anti-terrorism court.
Moving to Japan, an assemblyman was forced to resign from the ruling party for heckling a female member of the Tokyo Assembly. Three months later Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed a record number of women to the cabinet.
British women made a bit of progress when the Church of England gave its OK to female bishops. Opponents said the decision was against the Bible, and the church shouldn’t be guided by mere “secular ethics.”
Here at home, 10 years after the abuse happened, the Vatican finally defrocked three greater Cincinnati priests because of sexual misconduct with children.
And after two years of gridlock, Congress actually got off its duff in the final days of 2014 and passed a bi-partisan child care bill. Possibly to block a second career for those defrocked priests, lawmakers included comprehensive background checks for child care workers.
In Arizona, a school board voted to ban two pages deep inside a high school science book because they discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception. The board is considering whether to also ban some biology and anatomy texts. That’s one way to get teenagers to actually do their science homework.
Since over 15 percent of active service members are now female, the Veterans of Foreign Wars updated its charter for the first time since its founding in 1936. No longer is it “a national association of men” — it is now one of “veterans.” And instead of assisting “widows,” it now helps “surviving spouses.”
Lastly, on the cultural front, Thor underwent a sex change when Marvel comics introduced a female Thor. In response to male-Thor-fan outrage, writer Jason Aaron told Time magazine “if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.”
A perfect ending for 2014 in any woman’s comic book.
Martha Burk is the author of Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need! and Cult of Power: The Inside Story of the Fight to Open Augusta National Golf Club, and How It Exposed the Ingrained Corporate Sexism That Kept Women Down.