Let’s not beat around the bush. This year has, in some ways, been pretty rough.

There have been natural disasters, man-made disasters, and a general feeling of despair that spawned the inception of twisted abominations known as existentialist memes.


It’s also been a year that has shown human resilience and dedication to ideals. People around the world have rallied to help rebuild earthquake- and hurricane-stricken lands; cities and nearly all countries have stepped up to fight climate change; and humans are demonstrating in the streets about the policies they want to see enacted. It has definitely not been a year of apathy.

This week, the world got another indication that humans are doing okay, and working toward doing a whole lot better. It comes in the form of one word.

Today, dictionary titans Merriam-Webster declared “feminism” to be their annual word of the year.

Read More: 2017 Is Saved – The #MeToo Movement Is TIME’s Person of the Year

Merriam-Webster made their decision based on a series of metrics that calculated how many people searched their site for a given word. In 2017, no term received more searches or more intense spikes in search frequency than feminism. And here’s why that matters.

With the Women’s March in January, and the rise of the #MeToo movement, 2017 has witnessed some historic moments in the progression of women’s rights and a surge in global attention being paid to women’s issues.

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Around the world, most countries still have laws on their books that allow for discrimination against women — whether through violence against women, economic or educational disadvantages, or marriage laws that allow young girls to be married off without their consent.

The World Health Organization reports that roughly 1 in 3 women will face sexual violence in their lifetime. In the US, recent data reveals that women still make only 83% of the money men make.

To make real change and ensure an end to gender discrimination, people in all countries will have to demand equality under the law. Global Citizen campaigns to #LevelTheLaw for women everywhere, and you can join us in taking action here.

The fact that “feminism” is the most-looked-up word of 2017 signals that there is growing awareness of women’s issues and the need for collective action to demand and ensure women’s equality.

Read More: After More Than 500K Women Tweeted #MeToo, Men Are Responding With 4 Words

Our desire to move forward doesn’t mean that everything is already rosy.

Last year, Merriam-Webster’s list included such gems as post-truth, snowflake, xenophobia, and even fascism. Yikes.  If the words of the year for 2016 were all about coming to grips with the bad, feminism taking the top spot in 2017 shows that this year has been about pushing back against those forces.

This year’s word should give us hope that we are having the right conversations, asking the right questions, and moving in the right direction. Here’s to feminism.


Demand Equity

'Feminism' Is The Word Of The Year. Here’s Why That Should Make Us All Proud

By Andrew McMaster