2022 brought us many amazing accomplishments and stories of women in the news. In February, the Winter Olympics took center stage as U.S. women make history and fought for equality. But not all news regarding the Olympics has been positive. Women are coming forward to call attention to China’s crimes against Uyghur Muslims. Read on for those stories and more from the month of February.
Meet our Lionesses This Month:
Erin Jackson makes history in speed skating
29-year-old Erin Jackson made history in speed skating this month at the Winter Olympics. But she almost didn’t even get the chance to attend. After slipping during the Olympic trials, friend and teammate Brittany Bowes gave up her spot to Jackson to give Team USA the best chance at standing on the podium.
Competing in the women’s 500-meter event, Jackson won gold with a time of 37.04 seconds. This was just 0.08 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. It was the first gold medal for Team USA in women’s speed skating since the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway. Jackson also became the first Black woman to win an individual medal in speed skating at the Olympics — making history during Black History Month, no less.
“I cried immediately, it was just a big release of emotion. A lot of shock, a lot of relief and a lot of happiness. I haven’t fully processed everything quite yet, but it just feels amazing,” said Jackson about her medal-winning experience.
Bowe spoke on giving up her spot to Jackson. “Right after the race, I knew that if it came down to me relinquishing my spot for her to be named on the team, I would do that because she deserves it.” Bowe was still able to compete at the Olympics as other nations gave up their qualifying slots.
Adele sweeps gender-neutral Brit Awards
This year was the first time that the Brit Awards included no gendered categories, and women swept up ten out of the 15 awards given out. At the forefront of those women was Adele, who took home three total awards: artist of the year, album of the year for her fourth album titled “30” and British song of the year for the lead single on that album, “Easy on Me.”
Accepting the award for best single, she said, “I can’t believe that a piano ballad won against that many bangers.” She dedicated her album of the year win to both her son and her ex-husband, saying, “This album was our journey, not just mine, and I’m very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and putting out an album that was so personal to me.”
The singer also made a statement on the awards show’s change from gendered categories to gender-neutral, “I understand why they changed the name of this award, but I really love being a woman, I really love being a female artist.”
Adele’s wins brought her total to 12 Brit Awards, putting her one behind the all-time most celebrated artist at the Brit Awards, Robbie Williams.
U.S. Women’s Soccer finally gets justice
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team finally received justice in their fight for equal pay since winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019. Reports say they have reached a settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation in their equal pay class action lawsuit. The proposed settlement is for $24 million. The settlement includes a promise to pay the men’s and women’s national teams equally, along with $22 million in back pay for the players and two million put into a fund for future career endeavors post-playing careers.
The lawsuit’s origins go back to 2016 when a number of players filed a complaint that they were being paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. In 2019, 28 players sued and started the now-settled lawsuit. Once a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is ratified by the USWNT Players Association, the settlement can be approved.
Megan Rapinoe, captain of the women’s national team, said, “We feel like this is a huge win. We’ll have equal pay on everything moving forward. It’s honestly kind of surreal. We’ve all been in the trenches of it for so long. I think I honestly don’t even understand how monumental this is.”
An Uyghur woman’s story of surviving a Chinese re-education camp
With the spotlight on China as they hosted the Winter Olympics, attention has once again been called to the atrocities of the Chinese government against the Uyghur Muslim population. More than one million Uyghur Muslims have been imprisoned by the Chinese government in labor camps and re-education camps. Numerous countries and human rights groups have accused China of genocide. China denies these claims, stating the camps are “counter-terrorism measures.”
To call attention to the horrible crimes being committed against her people, Gulbahar Haitiwaji has written a memoir titled “How I Survived A Chinese Reeducation Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story,” which describes her three-year-long experience in one of the camps.
Haitiwaji was called back to China for administrative reasons regarding her anticipated retirement. Within ten minutes of her arrival, she was taken to a police station and interrogated for the entire day. Haitiwaji was then transported to prison and put in a very small cell with a crowd of other women. In the end, she was sent to a re-education camp where all prisoners were forced to pledge their allegiance to the Communist Party of China and Xi Jinping. Despite being given a trial after two years in the camp, that trial only lasted ten minutes. Eventually, after another year, Haitiwaji was released, a rare occurrence for those suffering in the camps.
Words from Haitiwaji
Speaking on her experience and survival, Haitiwaji said, “The worst part in that journey was not knowing when it will end. That was a really desperate feeling. Millions of our people are still suffering in the camps, and they are not free at all. Compared to them, I feel really lucky.”
Haitiwaji gave a call to action to the rest of the world, “I ask all the Western countries to unite together against China by boycotting the forced-labor products. That would put a really big, economical pressure on China — not only diplomatically. We also need economical pressure on China, too. Make them realize that they have to close the camps.”
Other women in the news this month:
- 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva became the first woman to land a quad jump in Olympic figure skating history. She landed both a quad salchow and a quad toe loop.
- Team USA’s Kaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor won gold and silver at the Olympics inaugural women’s monobob event. This was the pair’s fourth Olympic appearance.
- Julia Marino took home Team USA’s first medal of the 2022 games by winning silver in the women’s snowboarding slopestyle event. The 24-year-old secured the silver medal with a score of 87.68 points.
- Logan Sankey and Sarah Hendrickson, noted ski jumpers, called for equal pay and opportunity in the sport and commented on recent progress. This year was the first time that women’s suits resembled men’s. In prior games, women’s suits required additional hip panels, which Hendrickson claimed were only there to “accentuate” female athletes’ bodies.
Want to learn about more women in the news? Read our Lionesses This Month edition for January!