We List Our Top 10 Most Talked-About Headline News Topics On GTHQ In 2015

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It’s that time of the year when lists become popular. Whether it be New Years resolutions looking ahead to 2016, or looking back at the year that was, lists become a great way to put into perspective goals and achievements. Many media publications compile lists of the biggest trends, consumer habits and industry changes that place a focus on money and what the international markets are doing.

For us, it has been a jam-packed year of news and stories in the female empowerment space, and rather than just let those fade into internet obscurity, we thought we would take this opportunity to share our list of 10 topics that were important and made a huge impact on our community throughout the year.

1. Women in Politics

2015 saw the rise of women in positions of power that throughout history have been exclusively reserved for and given to men. Nepal, Myanmar, and Croatia are just a few examples of countries electing female heads of state for the first time ever. As the US gears up to possibly see Hillary Clinton become the first female president, it is interesting to see this trend of female leadership on an upward tick at a time when terrorism, fear, and war are also on the rise.

Hillary-Clinton

2. Rape Culture

With powerful documentaries such as The Hunting Ground and India’s Daughter, the global focus on the rape and sexual assault epidemic has reached fever pitch. We have seen a number of PSAs, including the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign from the Obama Administration, and the celebrity-driven NoMore.org campaign are igniting conversations in a new and more public way. The issue of sexual consent has become a key component in identifying ways that can prevent and stop rape and sexual assault from happening. Groundbreaking laws in California and New York have been passed which will hopefully be the start of many more states in the US recognizing the need to update legislation in order to protect potential victims from assault.

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3. Women in Hollywood

It all started with Patricia Arquette’s speech at the Oscars at the beginning of the year when she boldly declared in front of an audience of millions that women deserve equal pay (in and out of Hollywood). It was the winner’s speech that echoed around the world, and indeed got women in Hollywood fired up. This year saw the launch of an investigation by the ACLU into the discriminatory hiring practices of studios toward female directors, which took the conversation about gender equality in film to a whole new level. The message: it’s on!

Celebrities, directors, the media and even some men joined the fight to bring down the detrimental standards that have put women at a disadvantage in Hollywood for a long time. The Sony leaks in 2014 brought many buried issues to light, and finally gave the world undeniable evidence that women do in fact get paid less than men, as Jennifer Lawrence so eloquently and boldly addressed in an essay. If the current trends are anything to go by, 2016 is going to be a breakout year for females in the film industry.

patricia-arquette-oscars

4. Celebrities and Feminism

As the modern day version of feminism continues to spread across a number of different countries in a variety of ways, feminism had no bigger spotlight than when celebrities spoke about it in interviews. With a handful of women like Lana Del Rey, Meryl Streep and Kaley Cuoco famously declaring their distance from the word, there were others such as Rita Ora, Hillary Clinton, Taraji P. Henson, and Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor who weren’t afraid to tell it like it is and speak up in favor of a movement that advocates the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. The fact that some of these women believe feminism should be a no-brainer is something we need to hear more of, frankly.

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5. Women in Sports

It became a banner year for women in sports in the US especially. Two solo female athletes in particular elevated the status of women in professional sports in a way that gender lines could no longer be an excuse for equality. Tennis champ Serena Williams, who we unashamedly called the greatest athlete in the world, and UFC champ Ronda Rousey. Both these women actually suffered major losses this year, Serena at the US Open, and Ronda Rousey against Holly Holm in Australia, but they should not be seen as a setback. It is in indicating they are still at the peak of their game but are as exciting to watch as any male competitor who sometimes suffers losses on the field.

And of course this summer saw the USWNT win the Soccer World Cup for the 3rd time, making them one of the most formidable female teams in any sport around the world. Not only did they capture their third championship, the US ratings for the final out did that of the NBA and MLB finals, proving audiences are willing to watch the best of the best, regardless of their gender. Now the next issue is how to rectify the huge pay gap that still exists between men and women in sports…

serena-williams

6. Women in STEM

There has been a huge push to encourage women and girls into the science, tech, engineering and math fields from elementary school age right up to adult women well into their careers. The issue of breaking down gender stereotypes became more important this year when San Francisco software engineer Isis Anchalee started a trending hashtag (which went viral) after being told she didn’t look like an engineer. Following on from the success of this, a female surgeon decided it was time the world stopped looking at the medical community as one divided by gender lines, and also started a hashtag that went viral to ignite global conversations about stereotypes of what a surgeon is “supposed” to look like.

While women continue to remain grossly underrepresented in all areas of STEM compared to men, these two social campaigns highlighted the importance of showing younger generations of girls that their gender does not and should not define what career they decide on when they grow up.

isis-anchalee

7. He For She

After Emma Watson gave her viral speech in late 2014, encouraging men to step up and join the fight for feminism and gener quality, we had no idea how they would respond. But powerful stories out of Iran and Afghanistan where men stood up and spoke up in bold ways in public spaces defending the rights and autonomy of women gave us a glimpse into what the He For She campaign is representing.

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8. Racial Tensions

Here in the US, stories of racial tensions in Ferguson where unarmed black man Michael Brown was killed, and Baltimore, where unarmed black man Freddie Gray was killed while in Police custody, as well as countless other incidents of black men and women losing their life to unchecked police brutality firmly reminded us all hat racism is not in fact dead, but it has remained among us in ways that have been simmering below the surface, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement. When a young white male named Dylann Roof entered a church in South Carolina and shot 9 African American church goers, the public could no longer deny that race is something that is a motivation for hatred.

But there was no bigger incident, or person, that confirmed just how real racism and bigotry is than Donal Trump who has insulted the Latino population and is now zeroing in on the Muslim population. While we’re not here to tout something negative, it is important to pay attention to the huge following he has in the current Presidential election polls as there is a very real chance he will snag the Republican nomination in 2016. However, there are many men and women who are collectively taking a stand against his un-American brand of bigotry in droves, and that is what we need to see more of going forward.

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9. Teen Activists

We’re not sure about you guys, but when we were teens, all we cared about was our high school crush, our celebrity crush, and being part of the cool group. Traditionally, Hollywood teen and child celebrities have followed the standard narrative of being bratty, becoming party animals that often end up in scary situations like that of Britney Spears, Ke$ha, Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan from yester-year.

However this generation of teen and young female celebrities could not be more different and more powerful, using their voices to speak on a number of social justice issues. Amandla Stenberg talking about the appropriation of black culture, Rowan Blanchard talking about the importance of intersectionality in feminism, and Zendaya Coleman on why being a role model to many young fans is something she takes seriously. If this is the type of celebrity the younger generation have to look up to these days, there is much hope for the future!

amandla-stenberg

10. Reproductive Rights

The fight for reproductive rights is always important, and especially around election time when divisive social issues like this are used as political weapons in gaining votes (sadly). This year the debate over abortion went up 10 notches with the release of a handful of secretly-filmed undercover videos at Planned Parenthood centers by an anti-abortion organization. Presidential Candidates referenced them in various political debates, laws were passed and struck down because of them, and pro-choice women around America geared up to fight in ways they never had before.

With the news the Supreme Court is taking on an abortion law case from Texas in the Spring of 2016, it could potentially change the way this safe, legal, medical procedure is administered in the US. This issue is incredibly important to us and we will continue to highlight the most important aspects of the continued battle. We are encouraged to see more and more women and men standing up for a woman’s right to make her own informed medical decisions without the interference of religion, politics or any other ideological mandates.

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2015 has certainly been a year filled with many highs and lows, and we as a female-focused media site are committed to bringing the stories that matter.

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