Every month, The New Feminist is shining the spotlight on womxn breaking the molds, patriarchy, and glass ceiling, both at the workplace and their community across the globe. Here are the legal reforms and notable leaders who made significant strides at work last month.
After the British government introduced a new bill into parliament last month, Suella Braverman, the Attorney General for England and Wales, became the first Cabinet minister to go on maternity leave on 2 March. She said she was “excited about making a little bit of history” to become the first “minister on leave,” calling it “a landmark moment for the UK government.”
In a video message, Braverman hoped that the systematic change “sends the message to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in politics that having a young family isn’t out of bounds to them if they wish to work in senior roles.”
Canada’s Lieutenant-General Frances Allen has been selected as the defense staff’s vice chief, as per a military statement on 9 March. The first appointment of a woman to Canada’s second-highest military post followed media accusations of the top ranks over allegations of sexual misconduct with subordinates.
Allen brings with her years of military experience, including representing Canada at the NATO military council and leading the army’s cyberspace division. In her new role, she will be accountable for the military’s day-to-day operations.
On 16 March, US congresswoman Deb Haaland became the first Native American to be a cabinet secretary. The 60-year-old won by a vote of 51-40 to Secretary of the Interior’s position to join President Joe Biden’s administration. Her election was backed by a petition signed by around 120 tribal representatives, who collectively called on Biden to make the historic move.
Haaland first made history in 2018 when she became one of the first two Native American women elected to US congress. A member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo tribe, the congresswoman, has secured a vital role in the Biden administration’s plans to fight climate change and spread awareness on indigenous communities. Haaland will also oversee the US government’s relationship with about 574 federally recognized tribal nations.
Samia Suluhi Hassan
After the sudden demise of Tanzanian President John Magufuli, 61-year-old Samia Suluhi Hassan was appointed the African country’s new chief. On 19 March, the former vice president was sworn in at a Dar es Salaam ceremony, making her Tanzania’s first female leader. Under the constitution, she will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which expires in 2025.
A former government clerk, Hassan holds university qualifications from Tanzania, the UK, and the US. She is currently the only other serving female head of state in Africa besides Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde.
New laws in favor of womxn
An inclusive pageant
Effective 2021, the Miss Panama pageant will be including transgender women “who have completed all their legal and medical procedures” in its competition, the organization announced on 3 March. The officials revealed that currently that no transgender women signed up to run for the Miss Panama pageant.
The inclusive move was made after considering the rules of the Miss Universe organization. According to the Miss Universe pageant, each national event must allow people legally recognized as women to participate in that specific geography. Spanish representative Angela Ponce was the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in 2018.
In one of the world’s first such provisions of its type, on 24 March, New Zealand granted automatic paid leave to working mothers and their partners who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth. Instead of forcing employees to use their sick leave, the new bereavement allowance provides them with three days’ leave in the circumstances mentioned above.
The law was established after a unanimous vote by lawmakers, advancing the country’s position in pioneering women’s rights. “The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss, and that loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally,” lawmaker Ginny Andersen told parliament.