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  1. The year started with a powerful show of resistance and solidarity, in response to the inauguration of the newly elected American President. The Women’s March saw around 700 protests across the world, with an estimated 4.5 million people standing together for human rights and equality. At the heart of the protests was the message ‘women’s rights are human rights’ and women have a right to live in the world free from discrimination, oppression and violence of all kinds.


  1. In March the government finally listened to years of campaigning and made relationship and sex education (RSE) compulsory for all schools in England. Quality education on the topics of gender, consent and respectful relationships is essential to effectively prevent sexual violence and harassment, which we hear all too often are routine experiences for many girls and young women. We look forward to 2018 and shaping the RSE curriculum, to support future generations in developing equal and respectful relationships, free from violence and abuse.


  1. Feminist activism has been a huge part of 2017 highlighted when Saffiyah Khan became a national heroine after her calm and strong resistance in the face of racism.


  1. June saw the highly anticipated UK release of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, with Gal Gadot taking on the iconic lead role. It is the first superhero movie with both a central female character and a female director, which has also become one of the highest grossing movies of 2017, one of AFI best movies of the year and inspiration for women and girls around the world.


  1. July saw the release of Advertising Standards Agency (ASA); Depictions, Perceptions and Harm: a report on gender stereotypes in advertising’, announcing a new rule will be introduced in the UK Advertising Codes next year to ban harmful gender stereotyping in advertising. Challenging gender and social norms are a key part of preventing violence against women and girls, of which the media portrayal and representation can make a huge difference.


  1. After decades of campaigning by women’s rights activists, Saudi Arabia lifted the existing ban and announced women would now have the right to drive. Previously Saudi Arabia was the only country where such a ban remained and marks an important step for women in Saudi Arabia towards greater freedom and equality.


  1. A two year unique collaboration between Rape Crisis South London, Doll’s Eye Theatre, Purple Drum, Dr. Maria Garner, and Dr. Fiona Vera-Gray, resulted in an educational school tour of the performance Might Never Happen. A combination of expertise from research on women’s experiences of street harassment and men’s experiences of masculinity with specialist frontline practice and innovative theatre, enabled an incredible piece of theatre in education to be created and performed exploring young people’s experiences and understanding of street harassment.


  1. Norway women’s national football team tackled the gender pay gap by demanding equal pay as the men’s team. They won!  


  1. As part of the 16 days of action to end violence against women Hollaback! London collaborated with a number of artists to share women and girls stories of sexual harassment in public spaces around London. An amazing collaboration showing the power of creative action to raise survivor’s voices and reclaim public space and fight street harassment.


  1. Following #MeToo and the outpouring of women and girls experiences of sexual violence and harassment, Time names The Silence Breakers as their 2017 Person of the Year. Since October we’ve seen an unprecedented volume of public disclosures of sexual violence which have shocked many people within society. Within Rape Crisis and many other women’s organisations, we know this is still just the tip of the iceberg. Many survivors feel silenced and unable to speak out, which is why an anonymous fifth arm on the right side of the cover of Time magazine is so important. It belongs to a hospital worker in Texas, who contributed her story under the promise that she could remain anonymous and represents “all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities.” Our thoughts and solidarity are always with survivors everywhere, who have or haven’t spoken out and who are finding ways to survive each and every day.


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