Last week The Huffington Post published its list of The 24 Best Moments for Women in 2012. I agreed with several of them (the list included Adele – for winning six Grammys and for being a ‘body image hero’; Melissa Meyer for being appointed Yahoo CEO, and Hillary Clinton for being herself). Whilst best moments for women are worth celebrating wherever they happen, overall the list probably had more resonance for women in the US than it did for me. It did get me thinking though – what were the Best Moments for Women in the UK last year? Here are four good ones, in no particular order. But I struggled writing this. Are they the Best? What do you think the Best Moments were for UK women in 2012?
1 Women on Boards becomes a big issue
2012 was the year that the low numbers of women on corporate Boards really grabbed both corporate and media attention in the UK. A lot of coverage was given to small gains in the number of women in non-Executive directorships. The question of quotas moved from an outlier preoccupation to a proposal supported by the likes of Richard Branson. The even smaller number of women in Executive roles and in the pipeline to senior positions was exposed. And with another report just out showing that the percentage of women on the Boards of private companies is even lower than those in the FTSE, it looks like unstoppable momentum for 2013.
2 Equal pay gets teeth
The UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of 174 former employees of Birmingham City Council – mostly women employed as cooks, cleaners, caterers and care staff – who had alleged that the council failed to pay bonuses awarded to staff in male-dominated jobs such as refuse collectors. The Supreme Court ruling means that equal pay cases can now be heard in a high court – extending the time limit for making claims from six months to six years. And the 2012 Opportunity Now benchmarking report finds that women are better represented at senior levels of organisations that carry out equal pay audits, compared to those that don’t.
3 Women win gold
With the biggest-number ever of women athletes taking part, outstanding performances by the UK’s women athletes at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics created so many best moments – not just for women but for sport and for the world. Who can forget the awesome achievements this year of Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Ellie Simmonds and Sarah Storey – to name just a few? The London Olympics also marked the first Olympics when every participating country had at least one female athlete.
4 All-women literary shortlist
So many great books by women this year. My personal best moments include reading Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal on holiday in the sun. And this year, for the first time ever, women are winners in all five category awards for the prestigious 2012 Costa Book Award. 2012 marks the 41st year of the Book Awards. The overall winner will be announced at the end of January 2013 – and one thing’s for sure. A woman’s name will definitely be on the winning cup.