Written by Emma Moses 

It’s been said many times and we’ll say it again, 2020 wasn’t the year we had hoped for. Everyone was affected by the events that arose, some more tragically than others. As we welcomed in the new year in January, many people were quick to “write off 2020”, but have we been so clouded by the tragic effects of the pandemic that we’ve forgotten to stop and reflect on the good? 

Amongst the bad, there were in fact many positive ways that our world changed last year, ranging from climate change, to female empowerment to equality. Here at Spoiled Nation, we’ve noted 10 incredible milestones that you may have forgotten about, which each provide hope and optimism for our uncertain future. 

1. Kamala Harris became the first female and first Black Vice President-Elect of the United States. 

Kamala Harris made history as the first ever female and first ever Black Vice President-Elect, defeating Trump along with Biden in November last year. Born to immigrant parents from India and Jamaica, Harris defied expectations and has become one of the most powerful females in the world, being an inspiration for many young girls. 

Before taking her place last month, Harris made a Twitter post that was all about girl power, stating, “I’m here today because of the women who came before me”. Many of her passions stand with climate change, women’s rights and immigration- we can’t wait to see the positive change that she’ll bring! 

2. Air quality improved and the oceans became cleaner. 

The travel restrictions and slowdown of movement forced upon us during lockdown in fact meant great things for the planet, as pollution levels were said to have improved, and oceans became cleaner. Researchers have found that “emission levels dropped dramatically over the course of the pandemic”, perhaps suggesting that the lockdown was not only fighting the virus, but also climate change. 

3. Abortion was legalised in Argentina. 

In December last year, abortion was legalised up to the 14th week of pregnancy in Argentina, marking a milestone for women’s rights. Large crowds gathered in the country’s capital Buenos Aires prior to the decision being made, which followed with jubilation by thousands after the voting results were announced.  

Many have campaigned for a change in the law for years, so it’s no surprise that the legislation led to a mass celebration. Melany Marcati, aged 25, told reporters: “There are no words to describe what your body feels after fighting for something for so long. I cried a lot, which I wasn’t expecting.” Victory music kicked off at the capital, green smoke filled the air and the message “ES LEY!” meaning “IT’S LAW” projected upon a huge screen. 

4. Africa was declared free of wild polio. 

On the 25th of August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Africa free from wild poliovirus, after four years passed without a reported case. This was a huge moment for the community, as only 25 years ago, around 75,000 children were paralysed by the disease. Talking about the achievement, the WHO regional director for Africa stated: “It’s been a momentous, massive undertaking, with amazing persistence and perseverance”.  

5. Crayola launched crayons that represent diverse skin colours. 

Last May, Crayola announced that they were launching a new box of crayons for young children called “Colours of the World,” which would include colours that represent more than 40 different skin tones, allowing children of any race to “accurately colour themselves into the world”. 

They said that their aim was to “cultivate a more inclusive world for children of all ages, races, cultures and ethnicities”. In order to ensure that the skin tones were achieved accurately, Crayola partnered with the current CEO of MOB Beauty, who has previously created foundation colours for companies such as MAC Cosmetics. Together, they created a range of colours in order to help every child find their shade. 

6. The UK government finally announced that blood donation rules against gay and bisexual men will be relaxed. 

Blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men were relaxed in the UK in what has been defined as a “landmark change”. The previous rules stated that gay and bisexual men had to abstain from sex with men for three months in order to be allowed to donate blood, however this has now been changed, meaning that men in long-term relationships can now give blood at any time. Many have celebrated the new rule, with one campaigner stating that he believed the original rule was “rooted in deep homophobia”.  

7. The Black Lives Matter protests made history for racial equality, aiming to change society for good. 

After the killing of George Floyd in May last year, local protests began in Minneapolis in support of Black Lives Matter, before quickly spreading globally. An estimated 26 million people were said to have participated, making it the largest protest movement in US history.  

From the tragic event that sparked the protests, more awareness than ever before was raised for racial equality, as millions of people of all ethnicities came together to beg for unity. Black Lives Matter’s global organisation aims to “build power and bring justice, healing and freedom to Black people across the globe”. 

8. Celebrations became less about presents are more about finding ways to connect with loved ones. 

Being banned from seeing loved ones has certainly made us all value the time that we spend with them more than ever before. Celebrations have become less about presents and more about when you’re going on Zoom to speak to your friends and family. One thing that the pandemic has certainly taught us is that material things mean nothing when you can’t be with those who mean the most to you.

9. Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free. 

Access to period products is a rising issue for young girls, as nearly a third in the UK alone have difficulties affording them, which is known as “period poverty”. It can cost girls up to £8 a month for the essential products that they cannot go without. Scotland has become the first country in the world to tackle this, making period products free of charge, stocking them in public buildings such as schools and universities. Many have praised this historic legislation, celebrating the choice of putting women’s rights high up the political agenda. 

10. Northern Ireland legalised gay marriage. 

Better late than never, Northern Ireland finally legalised gay marriage in January last year, celebrating their first ever same-sex marriage ceremony the following month. Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International said: “For too long, LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland have been treated as second-class citizens, so today is an incredible moment”. Previous laws meant that same-sex couples could only hold a civil partnership, however now they hold the same rights as heterosexual couples, being allowed to legally register for marriage for the first time in history.