7 stories for 7 months of good news

It's been a hefty 7 months since we posted a Good News article on GenZennial, so I thought it would be a great idea to look back on some of the best things that have happened from September 2020 to March 2021. We all need some good news right now!

1. Scotland became the first country to make period products free - November 2020

In November 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to pass a bill making period products free for all. The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed unanimously and is estimated to cost £24 million a year.

Period poverty is a huge issue around the world, with those on low incomes unable to afford or access suitable period products like tampons and pads. A Young Scot survey of more than 2,000 people found that one in four respondents at school, college or university in Scotland had struggled to access period products.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, said on Twitter about the bill: "Proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation, making Scotland the first country in the world to provide free period products for all who need them. An important policy for women and girls."

2. The US election led to historic wins for LGBTQ+ people and women of colour - November 2020

In one of the most anxiously anticipated US Presidential elections in recent history, huge strides were made for LGBTQ+ people and women of colour, starting with Kamala Harris becoming the first female, Asian American and African American vice president. These historic wins stretch across the United States in various areas of the political landscape.

These wins include:

  • Cori Bush, the first Black female elected to Congress in the State of Missouri.

  • Ritchie Torres, the first openly gay Afro-Latino elected to the house.

  • Mondaire Jones, the first openly gay Black man elected to the House.

  • 6 Indigenous candidates won house seats, among them the first two Native women Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. The others are Tom Cole, Markwayne Mullin, Yvette Herrell and Kaiali'i "Kai" Kahele.

  • Sarah McBride became the first openly trans state senator in US history.

  • Marilyn Strickland became the first Korean American woman ever re-elected to Congress, as well as the first African American person to represent Washington at the federal level.

  • Ana Irma Rivera Lassén won her election to the Puerto Rico Senate, making her the first Black, openly lesbian Puerto Rican to become an elected law maker.

  • Mauree Turner became both Oklahoma's first Muslim lawmaker and the first ever openly non-binary state legislator.

  • Stephanie Byers became the the first openly trans person of colour ever elected to a state legislature in the US.

  • Jenifer Rajkumar and Zohran Mamdani were the first two South Asians voted into the lower house of the New York State legislature.

  • Taylor Small became the first openly trans person elected to the Vermont state legislature.

  • Shevrin Jones became the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the Florida state Senate.

  • Michele Rayner became the first Black, openly LGBTQ+ woman elected to the Florida state legislature.

3. Hundreds of religious leaders called for a ban on conversion therapy - December 2020

In December, more than 370 interfaith religious leaders from around the world called for a ban on conversion therapy. These leaders include former archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and many others from the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Muslim faiths.

Conversion therapy is designed to try to change a person's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. The practice regularly uses psychological, physical and spiritual interventions and is based on the assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be 'cured'. Conversion therapy is both unethical and harmful in its practices and ideology.

Germany became the fifth country to introduce an outright ban of conversion therapy in 2020, following Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan and Malta, as well as several US states and Canadian provinces. The UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to ban conversion therapy in the UK and has described the practice as "abhorrent".

4. Officer Eugene Goodman hailed a hero for leading mob away from Senate chambers during the US Capitol riots - January 2021

We have all seen the harrowing images and videos of rioters breaching the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. The riot, which many believe to have been spurred on by the words of former President Donald Trump, saw lawmakers running and hiding around the building and covering for safety. One Capitol police officer thought quickly on his feet as groups frantically ascended the stairs towards the Senate Chamber.

Eugene Goodman was shown in video directing the rioters away from the Senate Chamber by pushing the lead person and then retreating away from the chamber so that they would follow. Goodman was also shown on video leading Republican Senator Mitt Romney away from the crowds.

Goodman has since been promoted to acting Deputy Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate and was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.

5. Reddit's r/WallStreetBets skyrockets GameStop's stock value in David and Goliath battle against short sellers - January 2021

Try to stay with me on this one. If you're not a regular in stocks (which I am not), it's a difficult one to understand. This entire saga basically meant that some big corporations lost billions of dollars because a group of Redditors decided to punish short-sellers and let the little guys beat Wall Street.

So here it goes: When an investor shorts a stock, they speculate that its price will go down. They do this by borrowing shares of a stock that they think will lose value by a set date and then sell them at the market price. When you short a stock, you have to at some point buy back the shares you borrowed and return them. If the trade works, you buy them at a lower price and get to keep the difference. But if the price of the stock goes up, it doesn't work.

Redditors on r/WallStreetBets noticed that GameStop had become a popular stock for short-sellers and decided to do something about it. They began buying more and more stock in order to skyrocket the stock price, which meant that these short-sellers had to buy back their stock at exorbitant prices and therefore lose a lot of money. The entire thing is far too huge for me to include here so I will link to this The Verge article if you want to read more on their website.

6. NASA's Perseverance lands on Mars - February 2021

On 18 February, NASA's car-sized rover Perseverance, nicknamed Percy, landed successfully on Mars after travelling for over 203 days. The rover is designed to explore the crater Jezero on Mars as part of NASA's Mars 2020 mission.

The main job of the rover is to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and soil, which will then be ferried back to earth and analysed for signs of microbial life. Perseverance will also test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere to prepare for future crewed missions.

In celebration of the successful landing, NASA is offering resources and ways to participate in the Mars 2020 mission, including sending your name to Mars and educational lessons and activities for students. Find out more on their website here.

7. The number of vaccines administered across the world exceeds 500 million - March 2021

When we first entered lockdown over a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seemed almost impossible that a vaccine could be created and distributed so quickly.

As of 25 March 2021, over half a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered around the world. The vaccines currently available to the public are Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Oxford AstraZeneca, SinoVac Biotech, Gamaleya, CanSino Biologics and Sinopharm, with the former four vaccines being the most administered across the world.

The country that has given the most vaccines so far is the United States with over 147 million, followed by China at 110 million and the EU at 71 million as of this month.

While the vaccines are an incredible step to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have to work together to ensure no more lives are taken or affected by this awful virus.

Please remember to wash your hands, wear your mask and stay socially distanced.

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