August 26, 2019 / 6:12 AM / a month ago

Factbox: Saudi travel to World Cup football - 10 breakthroughs for women in 2019

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Almost a century after women in the United States won the right to vote - an anniversary former President Barack Obama proclaimed as ‘Women’s Equality Day’ in 2011 - the global struggle to end gender disparity continues.

Below are 10 breakthroughs for women in 2019.

1. Saudi Arabia lifted travel restrictions on women, eroding a heavily criticized guardianship system in the Islamic Kingdom under which all women are assigned a male relative whose approval is needed.

2. The women’s World Cup smashed viewing records around the world, reflecting a rising interest in women’s soccer and triggering demands for more equal pay and prizes. Almost 59 million people watched France beat potential 2023 hosts Brazil in the last 16, making it the most viewed women’s match of all time.

3. Ireland lifted restrictions on abortion following a 2018 referendum, but activists voice concerns that women may not get comprehensive care as health services struggle to meet demand for the fast-tracked launch of the service.

4. A law against taking intimate photos underneath women’s clothes without their consent came into force in England and Wales, a change campaigners hailed as a “crucial step forward”.

5. Kenya’s High Court ruled that rape survivors have the right to an abortion and ordered authorities to pay almost $30,000 in damages to the mother of a teenage victim who died after a botched abortion.

6. Britain pledged 2 million pounds ($2.6 million) to organizations working to end “period poverty” by helping women and girls access sanitary products and tackle the stigma around menstruation. Girls in some countries have to use rags or paper to deal with their periods and are told to stay out of school.

7. Russian women spoke out about sexual harassment and abuse through the “I need public attention” hashtag. The movement was evoked after the trial of three sisters charged with the murder of their abusive father.

8. Pakistan set up more than 1,000 courts dedicated to tackling violence against women in a bid to tackle a problem activists said the criminal justice system had long neglected.

9. A record number of women entered India’s parliament after a marathon election that returned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power.

10. And finally, NASA announced its first all-female spacewalk - but had to cancel it due in part to a lack of a spacesuits in the right size. NASA promised the milestone would one day be reached, saying on its website, “an all-female spacewalk is inevitable!”

Editing by Tom Finn and , Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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