A year in review: 10 wins for girls’ and women’s rights!

We wanted to celebrate some of the biggest wins for girls and women from around the world in 2015. From sports, to Hollywood, to global development, the world is coming together to champion girls’ and women’s rights!

While it’s true that no country has yet achieved complete gender equality, it’s inspiring and motivating to see that change is happening, and girls, boys, men and women are uniting to create a better, brighter future for all.

Check out some of our favourite moments from last year, and let us know what YOU would add to this list in the comments below!

1. World leaders make gender equality a goal and priority

17 sustainable development goals.In September 2015, 193 leaders from countries around the world came together at the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a new set of global goals. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will guide international development over the course of the next 15 years. Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

2. Canadian Prime Minister appoints gender-equal cabinet “because it’s 2015”

For the first time in Canadian history, newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a gender-equal cabinet of 15 men and 15 women. When asked why he made this decision, he replied, “because it’s 2015” – a response that quickly drew international attention.

3. Malala Yousafzai turns 18 and continues to do incredible things

The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and outspoken global activist for girls’ rights and education, Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in July by opening a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and calling on world leaders to support the needs of Syrian children. Her documentary, He named me Malala, was also short-listed for an Academy Award!

4. Premier of the film India’s Daughter puts gender-based violence in the global spotlight

A young woman with the words, “India’s Daughter”, projected on her chest.BAFTA-winning producer and Plan International ambassador Leslee Udwin directed the groundbreaking film, India’s Daughter, which tells the devastating true story of the gang rape that took the life of a young medical student, Jyoti Singh in New Delhi, India in 2012.

Actress and Plan’s Because I am a Girl Global Ambassador Freida Pinto helped kick off the worldwide premier in March to mark International Women’s Day. The powerful film reignited the long-overdue conversation around sexual violence and gender-based violence in countries around the world.

5. Women vote for the first time AND win seats in Saudi Arabia


In a historic municipal election in Saudi Arabia, women were allowed to cast votes for the first time, and 21 female candidates were elected to office!

6. Guatemala bans child marriage

A group of adolescent girls and women.

Plan International Guatemala youth delegates and staff at a press conference about the law against child marriage.

After 3 years of advocacy efforts from Plan International and other local organizations in Guatemala, the government approved a law that establishes 18 as the minimum age for marriage – for both women and men. Previously, this law allowed girls as young as 14 to marry.

SEE ALSO: The growing movement to end child marriage

7. Female genital mutilation is banned in the Gambia

Hand holding a small blade.In a country where an estimated 76% of girls are forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), the President’s announcement to ban this harmful, and sometimes life-threatening, practice is welcomed news.

SEE ALSO: Why me? The permanent scars of female genital mutilation

8. Thousands rally together to pledge their support for a #BrighterFuture for girls

Hands with an equal sign drawn on the palm.

Screen grab: becauseweareallequal.ca

In celebration of the 4th International Day of the Girl, thousands of girls, boys, men and women pledged their support for girls’ rights and a #BrighterFuture because they believe, like we do, that we are ALL equal! Plan Canada’s Celebrated Ambassadors, actors Anna Silk and Sarah Rafferty showed their support too!

9. FIFA includes female soccer players in newest video game

For the first time in FIFA franchise history, video game enthusiasts of the EA Sports FIFA 16 can now choose female athletes from women’s national teams, including star players like Canada’s Christine Sinclair!

10. Negative gender stereotypes are increasingly challenged – and shattered!

From social media campaigns that challenged what it meant to act #LikeAGirl or what engineers should look like, to celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence who spoke out about the gender wage gap, and ads that celebrated today’s diverse female role models – there’s an undeniable shift in the way girls and women want to be portrayed – and are portrayed – in mainstream media.

What happened in 2015?

In case you missed some of the blogs we shared this past year, check out the most popular pieces below! We shared real-life stories from girls and women around the world, and featured some inspiring guest posts too: