Points of Progress: Iranian women gain access to stadium, and more

Vahid Salemi/AP
Iranian women were allowed to enter their country’s national stadium for the first time in 40 years. Female fans cheer in a women-only section during a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 10, 2019.

Iran

For the first time in 40 years, Iranian women attended a national soccer match. An activist, remembered as “Blue Girl,” resorted to self-immolation after being prohibited from entering the stadium in early September. Pressure from women’s rights advocates and FIFA made Iranian authorities change the rules to include women attendees for World Cup-qualifying matches. More than 3,000 of them sat in a women-only section on Oct. 10. Advocates are unsure if this new policy will endure, though, and consistent access to the stadium will be monitored. (Reuters)

Worldwide

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

The United Nations refugee agency received an unprecedented amount of pledges to end statelessness. Stateless people are those with no officially recognized nationality, something that often leads to major human rights violations. Within one week in October, governments and organizations made more than 300 pledges that address statelessness through measures such as ensuring universal birth registration, ending gender discrimination in nationality laws, and facilitating naturalization of stateless people. Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the refugee agency has reached a critical mass of political will and commitment to resolve this issue. (UNHCR)

Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, left, speaks during a press conference at the European U.N. headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Oct. 2, 2019.

Antarctica

NASA reports the atmosphere’s ozone hole near the South Pole is the smallest since its first detection. This year, the hole in the protective ozone layer is 3.6 million square miles, compared with its peak in 2006 at 10.3 million square miles. Scientists say this year’s record is due to weather patterns rather than human behavior, but still, fewer harmful rays are reaching Earth’s surface. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, every country in the world has banned many ozone-damaging refrigerant and aerosol chemicals; scientists say this has helped with gradual ozone restoration. (The Associated Press)

Iraq

College students are translating academic webpages into Arabic to increase accessibility and counter fundamentalist propaganda. While Arabic is the fourth most common language among internet users, it represents only 0.6% of internet content. Students working on the project have added more than 2.1 million words to the Arabic Wikipedia focusing on topics such as civil rights movements, women’s rights, and religious diversity. They have also translated journal articles and books. Since its 2017 launch, Ideas Beyond Borders, the organization behind the project, has garnered more than 1 million followers on Facebook and attracts more than 40,000 daily page views across platforms. (The Guardian)

Brazil

“Cattle queens” are beginning to break into the country’s male-dominated agricultural industry. The number of Brazilian farms managed by women has tripled since 2013, reaching a record 31% this year. Women face growing rates of violence, though, and resistance from some male counterparts who view agriculture as a man’s world. But Brazil’s cattle queens are gathering annually to address these barriers. Whereas only a few hundred women attended the conference in 2016, this year’s event was sold out with 2,000 attendees. The community shares legal advice, and information about pricing and new technology. (The Washington Post)

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters/File
The number of farms in Brazil managed by women has reached a record 31% this year. The “cattle queen” community gathers annually to share ideas and support one another.

Congo

Mines are using digital tools to ensure minerals are ethically sourced. Congo supplies 39% of the world’s tantalum, a key component in smartphones, but some mines are notorious for using child labor or funding organized crime. Supply-chain audits have traditionally relied on paper labels so American companies can verify the source of mineral ore, but those labels could be bought and sold and reattached to ore from uncertified mines. The electronic bar codes, however, track minerals from the source, and help prevent unethically sourced minerals from entering the production line. (Reuters)

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