by Stephanie Thomson
Most people will be glad to see the back of 2016. It was a year of shock elections, record-breaking global temperatures, devastating terrorist attacks, ongoing civil wars and high-profile celebrity deaths.
But don’t let the negative headlines fool you: it wasn’t all bad news. We asked six experts in different areas to share with us their defining moments of 2016, with a particular focus on events that maybe didn’t get as much coverage as they should have. As you’ll see, this past year has given us plenty of cause for celebration.
Deeyah Khan: When women stood up to extremists
Once again in 2016, extremists across the world attacked women’s educational, social and professional opportunities, rolling back the successes of feminist campaigning.
All too often, these women are painted as victims – or in some cases they are seen as potential perpetrators of violence, as we saw this year with the burkini ban and the furore that surrounded it.
But if there’s anything 2016 taught us, it’s that women’s most valuable role may be in challenging and preventing extremism at the community level. Women are often more engaged within their communities than men, and have strong networks with other members of the community. For that reason, they’re in the best position to organize and challenge the development of extremism and to identify and counter the factors that cause it in the first place.
That’s why my stand-out good news story of the year was when the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership, led by peace activist Sanam Naraghi, launched the Global Solutions Exchange at the United Nations General Assembly in September. These networks of women are already working against radicalization. With the launch of this platform, they might finally get the support they need.
Deeyah Khan is an award-winning film director and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.