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The 18 best moments for women in 2018.

The last 12 months have been a tumultuous time to be a woman.

While we seem to be making great strides towards gender equality and raising awareness of the issues that deeply affect women, we’ve felt the frustration of fighting against power structures that won’t let us in. Many of the defining moments for women in 2018 are bittersweet – both worthy of celebration for our resilience, bravery and honesty, and a source of distress because they symbolise how far we still have to go in the struggle for women’s freedoms.

Yet, as the year draws to a close, let’s acknowledge the brilliant work of women who have made 2018 their year to change laws, change minds, and start revolutions.

And appreciate how they’ve paved the way for a far brighter 2019.

1. The Time’s Up movement begins. 

1 January. 

300 women in Hollywood published a letter in The New York Times announcing Time’s Up – a movement aiming to help victims of harassment in any industry seek justice.

2. Aly Raisman gives emotional victim impact statement against Larry Nassar. 

19 January.

Six-time Olympic medallist Aly Raisman appeared in court to deliver a powerful message to her former USA Gymnastic team doctor, who sexually abused her and hundreds of other gymnasts. Unflinching, the then 23-year-old turned to face Larry Nassar and said, “Larry, you do realise now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing.”

“The tables have turned, Larry. We have our voices and we aren’t going anywhere.”

3. Emma González delivers powerful speech on gun control. 

17 February.

On a Wednesday afternoon at school, Emma González lost 17 of her classmates and teachers after they were shot dead by a former student. Three days later, 18-year-old Emma became the face of the March for our Lives movement, after she delivered a speech at a rally in which she stood in silence for six minutes and 20 seconds – the exact amount of time the shooting took. “If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” she said.

4. Frances McDormand demands ‘inclusion riders’ in Oscars acceptance speech. 

5 March. 

After winning the Oscar for Leading Actress for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand asked all the women in the room to stand, acknowledging that they all had their own stories to tell and projects to develop. She then said, “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.” The speech inspired a fascination around the term, which refers to an additional provision attached to a contract, requiring the cast and crew to be ‘inclusive’ and diverse.

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5. Beyoncé makes history at Coachella. 

14 April.

Beyoncé became the first black woman to headline a music festival at Coachella, in an epic set which involved playing 27 songs, wearing five different costumes and featuring over 100 dancers. To date, it’s attracted the most views ever of a live-streamed performance – with over 41 million viewers.

6. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey win the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. 

16 April. 

The two women to break the story on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood were formally recognised for their work. It was described as “explosive, impactful journalism”.

7. Bill Cosby is found guilty of sexual assault. 

26 April. 

A jury found actor and comedian Bill Cosby guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Pennsylvania woman, Andrea Constand, in 2004. In September, Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.

8. Ireland votes to repeal the eight amendment, allowing the government to legislate for abortion. 

25 May. 

In a referendum, the Republic of Ireland voted by a landslide to support women’s reproductive rights – repealing a part of their constitution that historically prohibited abortion unless there was a serious risk to the life of the mother. In September, the bill took effect, after being signed into law by the President.

Before the vote, Dateline investigated the debate taking place in Ireland over abortion. Post continues after video. 

Video by Dateline
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9. Hannah Gadsby’s groundbreaking Netflix special Nanette is released.

19 June.

Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby became the first Australian comic to have her own Netflix special, and it received almost universal critical acclaim. It’s been described as a show that “turns comedy on its head,” and Ashley Hoffman for TIME Magazine wrote, “When Gadsby wrenches out her pain on stage, she reveals her strength, rage, and yes, winning humour.”

10. Jacinda Ardern becomes the second woman in history to give birth while in office. 

21 June. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford welcomed their daughter, Neve, in a public hospital. Ardern is the second world leader to give birth in office, and took just six weeks maternity leave before returning to work, with Gayford staying at home.

11. Simone Biles becomes the gymnast with the most World gold medals of any gender.

19 August.

The 21-year-old gymnast became the first woman to win five all-round titles at the USA Gymnastic National Championships, establishing her, in the eyes of the media and many of her peers, to be the best gymnast of all time. At the Championships, she wore a teal leotard, the colour for victims of sexual abuse, as a symbol of solidarity with other gymnasts who were abused by Larry Nassar.

12. Female pro surfers won their fight for equal pay. 

5 September. 

After backlash over women being eligible to win just over half that of what men were competing for, the World Surf League announced that in 2019, women and men will compete for equal prize money.

13. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testifies against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

27 September. 

Psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford went public with her claims against Brett Kavanaugh for the first time on 16 September, alleging that in 1982, when she was 15 and he was 17, he sexually assaulted her. On 27 September, she told her story during a televised public hearing, saying Kavanaugh “groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” and she “believed he was going to rape me”. While Brett Kavanaugh was ultimately sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, Ford’s testimony was one that captured attention all over the world, and put the abuse of women front and centre in US politics.

Dr.-Christine-Blasey-Ford-
Dr Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in prior to giving testimony. Image: Getty.
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14. Treasurers from all Australia's states and territories agree to remove the 10 per cent tax on pads and tampons. 

3 October. 

After a campaign that lasted 18 years, states and territories unanimously agreed to remove the GST on sanitary items. The tax will officially be removed on 1 January, 2019, and is expected to include tampons, pads, menstrual cups, maternity pads and leak-proof underwear.

15. Australia apologises to victims of institutional sexual abuse.

22 October. 

In the wake of a five-year inquiry, the Australian government apologised to victims of child sexual abuse whose schools, sporting clubs, churches, charities and other institutions failed to keep them safe. A special applause was given to Julia Gillard, who in 2013 established the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse, which allowed hundreds of crimes to be exposed and reforms to be implemented.

16. Julia Banks resigns from the Liberal Party, calling out bullying and intimidation. 

27 November. 

Former Liberal MP for the Victorian seat of Chisholm, Julia Banks, defected to the crossbench after she told the Senate she was sick of politicians putting their own ambition and agenda ahead of the public’s needs. Banks also expressed her frustration with the lack of meaningful action by the Liberals to close the gender gap in Parliament, saying "the level of regard and respect for women in politics is years behind the business world".

17. Sarah Hanson-Young shames parliamentarians for sexist remarks. 

27 November. 

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young passionately responded to several members of parliament who made crude comments. Specifically, she responded to Nationals Senator Barry O’Sullivan commenting there was a “bit of Nick Xenophon” in her, by saying: "Real men don’t insult and threaten women."

“They don’t slut-shame them. They don’t attack them and make them feel bullied in their workplace," she said.

18. Recommendations from landmark report into stillbirth in Australia aim to reduce the rate of stillbirth by 20 per cent in three years. 

4 December. 

Labor senator Kristina Keneally spoke in the Senate about how stillbirth had affected her family, while presenting the results of an eight-month investigation into stillbirth in Australia. The report found that unlike comparable countries, Australia's stillbirth rate has not changed in more than 20 years. It recommended the government develop a National Stillbirth Action Plan, involving funding for further research and support for bereaved families.

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