From politics to entertainment and business, 2016 has been a year of highs and lows for women. We made strides towards gender equality – but barriers to women's rights were still as evident as ever.
In 2016, women around the world were unapologetic about calling for an end to sexual violence, rape culture, sexism, harassment, and femicide, using social media to shout about gender inequality in their country, apply pressure on their governments to change laws, and to help galvanise and organise public protests.
Spanning South Korea, Mexico, Turkey, and South Africa, here are some of the times women used the internet this year to force the world to hear their voices – and gave all the fucks.
1. #Canseliçinsusma – Turkish women campaigned for a 17-year-old student who they say was driven to suicide after being sexually assaulted by a teacher.
In April, thousands of Turkish people took to the streets and used social media to call for justice for a student – named only as Cansel K in local media – who committed suicide after allegedly being sexually assaulted by a teacher in Turkey’s central Anatolian province of Kayseri. Many people changed their profile photos to one of Cansel, to remind the public of her murder.
Campaigners say she complained to the school about the assault, but accused the school administration of covering up the crime.
2. #JusticeForJisha – Indian people demanded justice for the woman who was murdered by a man who rejected his sexual advances.
Indian women took a stand after Jisha, a law student, was found murdered with signs of rape and torture in April. Local police reports stated Jisha had rejected sexual advances from the suspect earlier on the same day that she was killed.
Women and men across India called for justice for Jisha, and an end to violence against women, with the hashtag #JusticeForJisha.
The attack drew comparison with Jyoti Singh, the woman who was gang-raped and murdered on a Delhi bus in 2012.
3. #NyalaUntukYuyun – women in Indonesia making sure their country didn't ignore the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Women in Indonesia took a stand after a 14-year-old girl – named as Yuyun in local media – was raped and murdered by 14 young men in Bengkulu, according to police.
The case received little national media interest until several Indonesian feminists took notice and amplified the case weeks after her death, using the hashtag #NyalaUntukYuyun (meaning "light for Yuyun") and shared photos of themselves holding candles and signs for the girl.
4. #NoEsNo and #MiPrimerAcoso – Mexican women saying no to sexual violence and harassment that is rife in their society.
In spring, tens of thousands of feminists in Mexico took to the streets and social media to protest against violence against women, sexism, and street harassment.
Local women accused local authorities of failing to bring perpetrators of violence against women to justice. The protests, which were described as a “violet spring,” called on women across Mexico to take a stand against gender inequality.
5. #RUReferenceList – a campaign led by students in South Africa protesting against rape culture and sexual assault policies.
In April, students at Rhodes University in South Africa called on university staff to consider changing the definition of rape in its sexual assault policy so it adequately protects sexual violence victims.
The campaign drew controversy as it apparently shared a list of names of men whom were alleged to have been perpetrators of sexual harassment. However, campaigners say their message with #RUReferenceList was to challenge the university to make effective change, taking to the streets and campaigning on social media to say they would "not be silenced".
6. #EstuproNaoÉCulpaDaVitima – Brazilian women demanding justice for a 16-year-old girl who was gang-raped by 30 men.
In May, a 16-year-old Brazilian girl – unnamed in local media – was gang-raped by 30 men. She only learned that she had been raped after pictures and video of the attack were posted on social media.
Women decided to use social media in response to the attack too, using the hashtag #EstuproNaoÉCulpaDaVitima to spark a national conversation and call for an end to rape culture.
7. #강남살인남 #화장실살인남 – South Korean women protested against sexism and femicide in their country after a woman was killed by a man who "rejected" his advances.
In June, women in South Korea were furious after law enforcement dismissed the idea that a 23-year-old woman was stabbed to death due to misogyny.
A 34-year-old man stabbed a woman to death in Gangnam Station in Seoul, South Korea. Local media reported that the man had a history of mental illness and that he was drawn to murdering her because he felt he was "being ignored by women".
Women urged Twitter users to cover the subway exit where the unnamed woman’s murder took place in Post-it notes calling for an end to femicide.
8. #яНеБоюсьСказати – Ukrainian and Russian women shared their experiences of sexual assault after a man's post that victim-blamed women went viral.
Ukrainian and Russian women took to social media in droves to share stories of rape and sexual assault after a man shared a story on Facebook about a woman who was raped, concluding that she “shouldn’t have been hanging around alone at night" if she didn't want the attack to happen.
The man's post was widely shared; outraged women used the hashtag #яНеБоюсьСказати – meaning #IamNotAfraidtoSayIt – to share their own experiences.
9. #HandeKadereSesVer – Turkish people campaigned for a 22-year-old Turkish woman who was raped and set on fire for being transgender.
In late summer, thousands of people called for justice and an urgent end to hate crimes against LGBT people in Turkey after the murder of Hande Kader, a 22-year-old Turkish trans woman who was raped and set on fire.
10. #CzarnyProtest – women in Poland fought against a proposed law that would have created a near total ban on abortion.
In October, thousands of Polish women shared photos of themselves wearing black and protested in the streets after the country considered new legislation that would basically amount to a total ban on abortion.
11. #NiUnaMenos – women in Argentina and across Latin America called for an end to femicide.
Argentinian women walked out of their jobs and homes in October to protest against violence against women and in solidarity with a 16-year-old girl in Mar del Plata, Argentina, after she was brutally murdered. The girl – Lucía Pérez – was one of many victims of gender killings in Argentina in the last year that prompted mass marches to protest violence against women.
The #NiUnaMenos – meaning 'not one less' – is the slogan women have used since 2015 in Latin America to protest against femicide. Women in Argentina also tweeted: "If they touch one of us, we all will demonstrate.”
12. #IAmMyOwnGuardian – Saudi women called for an end to male guardianship.
In September, thousands of Saudi women signed an online petition for the government to scrap its system of "male guardianship" that prevents women from doing tasks without the permission of a male relative, such as travel, marriage, or study.
The hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian was used by women in Saudi Arabia to call for their rights on Twitter.
13. #NotOkay – a hashtag used by women to share their stories of sexual assault after a video of Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault was leaked.
After a video of President-elect Donald Trump boasting about groping women was leaked, it prompted thousands of women to share stories of being assaulted on Twitter.
The #NotOkay hashtag – started by Canadian writer Kelly Oxford – called on women to tweet their first experiences of sexual assault. Oxford received tens of thousands of submissions within the first few hours from women around the world.
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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