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The Year Ahead: Women & Girls in 2017

This year, we’ll dig deeper into the stories we brought you in 2016 while exploring the issues that don’t get the attention they deserve – and we will continue to champion people and organizations who work for the good of women and girls at home and around the world.

Written by Jumana Farouky Published on Read time Approx. 3 minutes
Women in traditional outfits take part in a cultural festival in Durban, South Africa. This year, we'll see further moves to eradicate early marriage, continuing tensions over access to abortion, and deepening humanitarian crises in conflict-torn countries. AFP/Rajesh Jantilal

Looking ahead to a year that promises both progress and setbacks in regards to the rights of women and girls around the world, it’s difficult to predict which stories will stand out. But by looking back, we can get a sense of some of the issues that will continue to develop – and we’ll keep covering – over the course of 2017. And then there are the stories that might not make the headlines, but that we feel should be explored in more depth.

Last year, there was good news in the global campaign to end child marriage, with several countries – including Tanzania and Zimbabwe – banning marriage for anyone under the age of 18. We’ll continue to follow what will hopefully be a trend across the developing world, as more countries commit to eradicating a practice that so often goes hand in hand with abuse, early pregnancy and maternal mortality.

Women’s reproductive rights will continue to be a constant battleground. Our video series on family planning resonated with readers, and we’ll continue to cover issues surrounding access to contraception and abortion. We’ll also monitor which nations follow the examples of Malawi and Uganda in passing or proposing laws that grant women more access to abortion services, and which follow Poland’s (ultimately abandoned) lead to attempt to tighten anti-abortion regulation. And we’ll be keeping an eye on the White House in the U.S., to document how the policies of the incoming Trump presidency impact family planning efforts in the rest of the world.

For too many women and girls, 2016 was a year defined by conflict, as fighting continued or escalated in places like Syria, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen entered international consciousness last year. But there are still so many stories to be told about the steady destruction of the poorest country in the Arab region. In an upcoming series, we’ll focus on the lives of Yemeni women and girls in cities and rural areas to help us understand just what is at stake as the bombs continue to fall.

As death tolls rise, so do the ranks of extremist groups promising to give back people the security, respect and power that war strips away. When we decided to put together a series about the role of women in violent extremism, we knew it was a factor of conflict that had so far been treated mostly as a novelty by the media. But we didn’t realize just how integral women are to both perpetuating violent extremism and stopping it. In a series that will launch soon, we look at the issue from all angles: what kinds of women become jihadis, how they are recruited, the roles of women in preventing extremism, and what more needs to be done to stop the spread of violent ideology.

Throughout the year, we’ll continue to champion the people and organizations who are dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls everywhere. In the fields of science, art, health and politics, we’ll highlight women and men whose innovations and ideas are making an impact, whether it’s in one village or across continents.

And we want to make sure we are always furthering the conversation on women’s and girls’ issues – investigating underreported stories, highlighting unknown heroes and stoking debate. If you can help, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re an expert with something to say on any of the stories we cover, or a story you think we should be covering, we want you to write for us. If you’ve written a book or a research paper that engages with the issues we focus on, we want to know about it. Please get in touch by email, or through Twitter or Facebook, where you can also keep up with our latest stories. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter to get a weekly update on what we’re covering.

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