The Stream

Why 2021 was defined by resilient women

On Tuesday, December 21 at 19:30 GMT:
In another year of bad news, the stamina and perseverance of women across the world has again stood out.

At the Stream, we work hard every year to ensure their achievements are highlighted. Last year, we renewed our pledge to never again complete a calendar year without at least 50 percent of our guests being women. We’re proud to report that 2021 is the fourth year in a row we have achieved that goal, with women making up 55.17 percent and men 44.8 percent of our more than 500 panelists.

But, when we look around the media industry, it is clear that too little is changing, too slowly. Men still dominate television news shows, all-male panels haven’t gone away, and too many in journalism think a token woman guest is enough. It’s not.

The reason we’re doing this, the reason we do this every year, is because we believe that journalism can only be truly effective when it is representative and reflects the societies it covers.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres this year said: “COVID-19 is a crisis with a woman’s face.” And, indeed, there are few global crises of the sort we habitually cover at Al Jazeera that don’t disproportionately impact women.

Globally, the loss of jobs due to Covid-19 cost women at least $800 billion in earnings, a figure larger than the combined GDP of 98 countries, according to Oxfam International. In the United States and elsewhere, this has taken an especially heavy toll on women of colour. As we move into the third year of the pandemic, how can economies recover from the loss of female workers? How can women recover from the loss of income? We’ll ask these questions in this episode.

Another major story of 2021 in which women were front and centre: Afghanistan. The Taliban has been under pressure to uphold women’s rights since they took power in August. Early this month, its leaders issued a “special decree” outlining women’s rights.

It outlawed child marriage, but did not mention access to jobs or education. In this show, we’ll look at why some women’s rights leaders have stayed in Afghanistan to fight for their rights, and talk about why giving them a seat at the negotiating table is more important than ever.

The biggest story of our time? Climate change. And that is another crisis with a woman’s face. Women and girls around the world suffer disproportionately from the impacts of the climate disaster because they are on average poorer, less educated and more dependent on subsistence farming.

A UN report in 2017 found that 80 percent of those displaced by the climate emergency are women. At the Cop26 Climate Conference earlier this year climate tsar Alok Sharma said: “We know from our efforts to tackle climate change that it is more effective when we put women and girls at the heart of those efforts.”

In this episode, we’ll talk about why women are vital to saving the planet. Join us for this special edition of The Stream.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Pashtana Durrani, @BarakPashtana
Director, LEARN Afghanistan, @LEARNAfg

Nisreen Elsaim, @NisreenElsaim
Chair of UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change

Martha Ross, @marthaross
Senior Fellow, Brookings Metro