Hillary Clinton’s campaign and consequential loss of the US 2016 Presidential election symbolises a key moment in time for women across the world. It is clear that the white, (semi) working-class members of the American public feel disregarded by the political elite, which has widened divisions in society throughout the course of the Obama administration. Donald Trump’s victory represents a very clear rejection of a political establishment and economic system that has not been working for a vast proportion of people in America today. It is common practice for an opposition party to trump another (pardon the pun) when the public begins to feel that their views are not being reflected by the government, but what is most baffling about this election in particular is that the most qualified presidential candidate of this generation was defeated by, undoubtedly, the most unqualified of all time. Countless people have explained this result by highlighting Trump’s ability to appeal to disenfranchised, anti-establishment voters. However, a much more polarising ‘elephant in the room’ is the fact that the American people were more comfortable with seeing a bigoted, under qualified, tax-evading, judgemental, xenophobic man in the Whitehouse than a woman.
Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, stated that “To be elected as a woman, you have to be twenty times as good as your opponent” – and the recent elections have simply confirmed this. Hillary did what every professional, driven, ‘good’ woman should do – she put her head down and worked hard, devoted her entire life to the beliefs she holds most dear and calmly waited her turn to represent her country. Certainly, she made mistakes en route and not everyone can agree with her policies – but it is difficult to understand why voters, the media and public figures thought it was acceptable to condemn her so brutally, when the majority of her opponent’s actions are completely indefensible. Factors such as this have contributed to a so-called ambition gap amongst women, meaning that they are much less likely to be encouraged or recruited to run for higher political or professional positions as they continually underestimate their own abilities.
It would be unfair and unjust to completely condemn Trump’s presidency before it has even began. We can only hope that, despite the policies advocated throughout his campaign, he is going to unite people. Even though the political future of America is for now largely ambiguous, what remains clear is that there is still work to do for women across the world. It is of upmost importance for women to not become disheartened by Hillary’s loss, but instead use it as a springboard for endeavours towards a more equal and just future. The 2016 US Presidential elections had the potential to be the greatest day in the entirety of women’s long march towards equality – but we must now remind ourselves that this particular day is yet to come, and we can only look forward to it.
Islamic State (IS) forces took control of the Iraq city of Mosul in the summer of 2014 and now the long-awaited military offensive to regain the territory has begun. Operations to retake Mosul started on 17th October using a combination of Iraq security forces, Sunni Arab tribesmen, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters – all assisted by a US-led coalition of warplanes and military advisers. The entire operation is expected to last months. There could be as many as 1.5 million civilians living in Mosul, which makes reducing the number of civilian casualties of paramount importance. However, there are reported to be between 3,000 and 5,000 IS fighters in Mosul. Intricate tunnels have been built under the city, allowing IS forces to navigate their way about relatively unharmed. According to the UN almost 6,000 people fled Mosul in the first three days of fighting. They predict that about 200,000 people will flee the city in upcoming weeks. Some estimates place the number currently displaced within Iraq as being over four million.
Despite an impressive offensive to defeat the last IS stronghold in Iraq, there is an absence of attention being paid to the civilians who continue to be caught in the crossfire. In one particularly disturbing case, it was alleged that three women and three children (one of whom was disabled) were shot dead whilst trailing behind after being forced by IS to march from one village to another. However, it is now apparent that not all civilian casualties are purely a consequence of IS attacks, and that attempts made by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to push IS out of Mosul are adding to the humanitarian disaster.
The world has become numb to the horrors of Iraq in the past two decades. However the very nature of the current operation relies on a pre-determined plan of action, and it is disturbing that more was not done to warn or relocate civilians before the attacks began. Surely more should now be being done to mitigate the numbers of civilian casualties. The various reports sent to UN human rights staff of the atrocities being committed by many of those involved begs the question as to how much the people of Mosul were considered when the plans to liberate the city were put in place.
Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on arms in its campaign against Yemen – including drones, rockets, bombs and missiles – with a large proportion of it coming from the US and the UK. The supplying of such weapons has totally compromised the two governments’ ability to promote peaceful solutions to the attacks on Yemen, and the crocodile tears they have been shedding for its 21.2 million people have gone on long enough. Quietly fuelling such devastating attacks on innocent civilians needs to be translated into physical actions by the US and UK, which unfortunately thus far can only be reflected in the mere 12% of the United Nation’s estimated funding of $1.8 billion needed to help the people of Yemen. Instead of fulfilling their own self-interest, America and the United Kingdom need to reattach their moral compass and place the starving people of Yemen onto their humanitarian radar. The calling of a ceasefire within hours of a Saudi air raid on the 8th of October, killing 140 innocent civilians with a American-made bomb, by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the US Secretary of State John Kerry is simply not good enough. Complete diplomatic neglect from America and the United Kingdom has fuelled the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen to a humanitarian crisis on a similar level to modern-day Aleppo. The absolute hypocrisy of Britain, who has recently publicly condemned Russia’s backing of haphazard Syrian bombing, to only simply take the investigation of Saudi’s involvement in this (and previous) attacks on Yemen as they decide their future policy of allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the lack of publicity given to the American missile attack on three radar sites controlled by the Houthi movement in Yemen has allowed this issue to be completely swept under the carpet during the entirety of the presidential debate. The selling of arms by the US to Saudi Arabia has totalled $110 billion since Obama assumed office, and has recently confirmed further deals of $1.15 billion in the near future. The UK’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May, has inexplicably stated that the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia helps to “keep the people on the streets of Britain safe”. The blatant disregard for the innocent lives lost as a direct consequence of such deals reveals to us the extent of the UK’s and America’s utter indifference for the people of Yemen.
Shying away from directly addressing why the British and American government has not done more the stop the Saudi attacks on Yemen is unforgivable, and a greater sense of international justice and cohesion should be shed upon the hypocrisy of the two biggest supposed supporters of basic human rights.
Aleppo’s current situation presents the world with a stark contrast to the former financial and industrial centre it once was. Some of the most recent updates include water cuts and a complete lack of medical care and space in hospitals throughout the entire city.
A dramatic increase in the number of casualties and fatalities in Eastern Aleppo can be linked to the complete absence of doctors (totalling a mere fourteen to be exact), and the lack of safe passages for volunteering doctors from the Western side has only added to the amount of people desperately seeking medical attention. With only six out of twenty-one hospitals currently functioning, Aleppo’s current influx of casualties has resorted to cleaners acting as nurses and first aid being carried out in the middle of the street. The removal of essential services throughout the city, such as water and electricity, has meant that neonatal care is essentially non-existent with incubators not being able to function; an alarming number of mothers having to deliver their babies at home; and a scarcity of basic amenities such as blankets to keep new-born children and patients warm. The fact that it has now reached a point where it is possibly more dangerous to be in a hospital than walking the streets of Aleppo proves to us the willingness of parties to this conflict to attack or damage the sanctity of medical facilities and the most basic needs of the city’s people. Additionally, the day-to-day lives of its citizens have been affected by the 320% increase in fuel prices; a continuous stream of shops and markets closing down due to a gradual non-existence of vegetables and tinned food; and the constant need to flee to collective shelters in order to escape rebel and government attacks.
Institutions such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) have openly advertised their willingness to support and act with medical services, but simply cannot step in and help if they are still being viewed as a target or threat. The Red Cross has not been able to deliver aid to Aleppo since April 2016, which has added to their concerns for the safety and well being of the 1.75 million people across the city that had been so deeply relying on such supplies. Urgencies made by the ICRC, and other such institutions, have pushed the idea that aid must be kept separate from the political processes and movements currently existing in Aleppo and throughout Syria in attempts to be granted access to the communities most in need of help. The chief of the International Red Cross, David Miliband, has said that the Syrian crisis has now plummeted to new depths and compared scenes in Aleppo to Dresden in 1945. Despite the tireless and joint efforts of the ICRC, SARC and UN access to key areas is often denied to them, meaning that offering their services and supplies has become increasingly challenging. It has now become absolutely imperative for parties of the conflict to allow help and basic aid to be offered to the citizens of Aleppo as the Syrian conflict continues.