Arguably, for a lot of us, 2022 felt like an elongated 2021, where we dealt with the reverberations of a pandemic, of powerful movements, of resuming. Yet, 2022 had its own share of landmark moments that deserve to be remembered — here’s our humble attempt to summarise the feminist movement’s successes this year.
During the past year, we went through cycles of violence, dissent and hope, but we rose through and here we are — at a pitstop on a long continual journey. It’s time to remember, reflect, and rest.
1. Ashwini K.P became the first Asian and Dalit rapporteur on racism
The UN Human Rights Council appointed Ashwini K.P as a Special Rapporteur on racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. Ashwini is a former Political Science professor and PHD scholar, who will be reporting on issues related to descent and occupation based discrimination, amongst other Human Rights issues, for a term of three years.
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2. Two South Asian books were awarded the International Booker Prize and Booker Prize
Geetanjali Shree became the first Indian author to win the International Booker Prize for her translated book Tomb of Sand. The Book Prize website condenses its brilliance pretty accurately: “An urgent yet engaging protest against the destructive impact of borders, whether between religions, countries or genders.”
Shehan Karunatilka won the Booker Prize for his novel “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida” that narrated the afterlife story of a closeted war photographer, who must help two of the people he loves the most find his hidden cache of photos.
3. The Kamla Bhasin Award for driving the world towards gender equality was founded
Established in the memory of the legendary poet, social scientist and feminist activist, Azad Foundation awarded Natisara Rai and Vidya Rajput, co-founders of Shakti Milan Samaaj (SMS) and Mitwa, respectively. As the Executive Director of her organisation SMS, Natisara, a former sex worker and HIV+ve person, supports HIV+ve women in Nepal with accessibility to healthcare, dignity, work and education.
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Through Mitwa, a Chhattisgarh organisation/collective of trans people, Vidya works towards raising awareness on trans rights, including the right to self-identify, education, housing and healthcare. They were awarded grants to continue creating equitable social impact through their work.
4. Global support for the Iranian protests and for Muslim women’s self-autonomy everywhere
When Iranian Women protested their right to choose not to wear the hijab—following the death of a young woman in custody—people across the globe supported the protestors in the face of a brutal crackdown by the Iranian regime.
Muslim women in places strife with islamophobia, like India and France, highlighted how governments have no right to police a Muslim woman’s choice to wear the hijab either.
5. Droupadi Murmu was appointed as India’s first tribal and second female president
This July, Droupadi Murmu, born in the Santhal tribe in Baidaposi in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, became the 15th President of India. A former teacher and (the first women) governor of Jharkhand, she won the presidential elections by a huge majority.
As a president, she has highlighted the importance of the documentation of tribal knowledge by tribal people themselves, the gravity of the disproportionate incarceration of marginalized people, amongst other issues.
6. Rajya Sabha decrees for the usage of gender neutral language by Ministries
Maharashtra M.P Priyanka Chaturvedi appealed to the Rajya Sabha to drop the usage of phrases like ‘no sir,’ and introduce a more gender-neutral language in its address to the session. Although still binary in nature, it is a first step towards deconstructing the gendered language within institutions.
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7. Mental health care is covered in Insurance
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) mandated that all mental healthcare hospitalisation costs will be covered by insurance policies, from the 1st of November this year. This enables mental illnesses to be treated at the same level as physical illnesses, making this healthcare a bit more accessible.
8. Much Much Media started Much Much Spectrum
Much to our delight, the inclusive storytelling studio’s co-founder and self-advocate Aditi Gangrade created their online community & social media platform for amplifying awareness about neurodivergence and lived experiences of people with disability. Their content is spectral, timely and informative—peppered with fun and humour too!
9. Institutional inclusion for queer folk for the win!
2022 witnessed two affirmation actions by powerful bodies that can facilitate societal inclusion and security for folks from the LGBTQIAP+ community. In August, the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette (working with local NGOs) published a glossary of affirmative terminology in more than one language—acknowledging the diversity within the language of self-identification and enabling officials to use terms that are accurate, respectful and dignified.
In November, the Supreme Court of India identified that judicial systems need sensitised individuals in order to ensure genuine progressive justice. They released a module that also seeks to establish protocols for police forces when handling issues involving queer people.
Disclaimer: This is by no means an exhaustive or representative list. Suggestions to add to the list are welcome in the comments section.