If 2022 were a rollercoaster, it would be the kind with tight turns and twists that leave you hanging upside down for what feels like forever.
The world was sent into turmoil when Russia's President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in Februrary, forcing almost 8 million people to flee their homes and leading to reverberations across the globe from food insecurity to an energy crisis. In the US, Roe v. Wade was overturned, putting over 33 million at risk of losing abortion access. A revolution exploded onto the streets of Iran with calls for “Woman, Life, Freedom,” triggered by the death of Mahsa Jina Amini after being detained by police for “incorrectly” wearing her hijab.
But there were also huge milestones for social and environmental good. Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman to serve as a justice of the US Supreme Court, a historic nomination and a huge moment for representation. France banned short-haul flights for polluting the Earth. Presidential candidate Lula Da Silva, who has vowed to protect the Amazon, won the Brazilian election. President Joe Biden signed the biggest climate bill in the US ever. A new “world-changing” malaria vaccine was approved in sub-Saharan Africa.
This was also the year Beyoncé dropped the ultimate queer anthem and TikTok dance challenge; Twitter started eating itself; the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 was hosted in Africa; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hit our screens, reclaiming the narrative of an African utopia; and Disney remade The Little Mermaid and made young Black girls around the world feel seen and represented on screen.
But sometimes the way the world reacts to these big moments, and the conversations and the creativity that is sparked from them, can be as noteworthy and impactful as the moment itself — whether it’s world leaders rushing to congratulate Lula Da Silva’s election victory or Black Twitter’s reaction to Stormzy’s musical comeback.
Lula. Alegría! https://t.co/ORsTb06D8y— Gabriel Boric Font (@gabrielboric) October 30, 2022
Here’s a whirlwind tour of some of the most powerful, creative, and heartwarming reactions to some of the biggest things that happened around the globe this year.
1. Women Cut Their Hair in Solidarity With Iranian Protestors
On Sept. 16, 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amni was allegedly brutally beaten to death by the so-called morality police in Tehran for showing her hair beneath her hijab.
Her tragic death sparked an outpouring of anger over women’s lack of freedom in Iran, mass protests across the country, and global solidarity, with women and allies from every corner of the globe standing up for those struggling under the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.
One of the most visually arresting acts of solidarity was the thousands of women filming themselves cutting their hair.
As well as citizens moved by the plight of Iranian women, this viral movement stretched into the halls of power. Midway through her speech condemning the Iranian Islamic Republic, Swedish lawmaker Abir Al-Sahlani cut off her ponytail, waved the piece of hair in her hand and chanted “Women, Life, Freedom.” Belgian lawmakers also cut their hair in parliament.
2. Young Black Girls Felt Seen By Disney’s 'Black Ariel'
They say seeing is believing.
That’s exactly how scores of young Black girls felt when they watched the trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid and saw Halle Bailey cast in the lead role.
For the first time ever and after decades of being presented with blatantly racist imagery, little Black girls were seeing themselves represented on screen in a positive light. This video of their reactions is everything.
3. Women Stood Up for Reproductive Rights, From the Streets to the Stage
On June 24, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade — the landmark ruling that had safeguarded the constitutional right to abortion across the country.
After the initial gasps of horror and in the midst of a very dark time, something truly beautiful happened. The world mobilized.
Others used the stage as their platform to blast the Supreme Court’s decision and show their support of women’s reproductive rights and autonomy. Billie Ellish, Phoebe Bridgers, Meghan Thee Stallion, Idles’ Joe Talbot, and Kendrick Lamar all took time out of their Glastonbury sets to join the global chorus for abortion rights.
@glblctzn This past weekend, UK's five-day Glastonbury Festival was overshadowed when the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case which had previously granted pregnant people in the US the right to safe and legal abortion. Experts say other countries are likely to follow the US' lead when it comes to restricting abortion access, making the Roe v. Wade decision a global issue that particularly affects those living in poverty and people of color. So it's no surprise that almost immediately, artists and musicians used their time on the Glastonbury stage to share their response to the ruling with the crowds. #glastonbury#roevwade#womensrights#mybodymychoice♬ original sound - Global Citizen
Over in the US, Lizzo, Jazmine Sullivian, Janelle Monáe, rapper Latto, and Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson also used their stage time at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards to speak out against the court’s decision.
4. Fans and Fellow Athletes Logged on to Say Farewell to Serena Williams
Serena Williams, widely considered the greatest tennis player of all time said goodbye to the game, announcing her retirement from the sport after the US Open.
“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” Williams wrote. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Social media erupted with touching tributes and with her legacy of advocacy and activism, including increasing Black representation on the courts to equal pay, it’s easy to see why.
Serena Williams won the Australian Open while two months pregnant. The GOAT conversation was over the moment she did that.— firstname.lastname@example.org (@cmclymer) August 9, 2022
5. The World Stood Up for Ukraine
One of the defining moments of this year was Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with the impact felt well beyond the borders of the Eastern European country.
But before the dust had even settled, the rest of the world was joining together to stand in global solidarity with Ukraine.
Strangers opened their homes and hearts to those fleeing the war; demonstrators around the world — from London to Tokyo — took to the streets to protest; a Russian TV journalist denounced the war live on-air; John Legend performed a heartwarming rendition of FREE at the Grammys, blue and yellow ribbons adorned every jacket and coat; violinists created a global symphony for peace, and many more.
Then, in April, hundreds of thousands of Global Citizens took part in a global social media rally to drum up international support for Ukraine and put pressure on world leaders and corporations to step up their financial commitments, ensuring that an additional $10.1 billion was pledged to help refugees from Ukraine and around the world.
6. People Got Emotional at the Return to Wakanda
2022 gave us the much-anticipated sequel to 2018’s Black Panther. While Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a fictional movie, its trailer showcases very real social issue themes that the world needs to take note of in order to end extreme poverty once and for all — from the need to empower Black women, to supporting Indigenous peoples' fights for their rightful land.
Coming two years after the tragic death of protagonist Chadwick Boseman, the movie has a sentimental place in fans' hearts. There’s no denying that viewers were eager to see how his death would be addressed and when the trailer was released on Oct. 3, fans got very emotional.
black panther is truly the best and greatest thing the mcu has ever done like wakanda forever is about to change lives all over again— ceo of kory (@korysverse) October 3, 2022
7. Kim Kardashian (Unintentionally) Started a Conversation About Inequality
If you spent any time online in 2022, you most likely saw the clip of Kim Kardashian telling women to “get your f**king ass up and work.”
While the comments spawned tens of thousands of undeniably hilarious TikTok videos, they also started a global conversation around inequality.
kim kardashian giving business advice: pic.twitter.com/wU7AsCWMtA— dr. tushar (@reputushion) March 10, 2022
Kardashian’s comments presuppose that everyone has the same opportunities, and ignore the systemic barriers that lock certain groups out of the workforce or impede their professional success.
Women, for instance, are less likely to be considered for a hiring process than men, less likely to be promoted, often have to work twice as hard as men to move up the career ladder, and still bear the burden of unpaid care work. “Working hard” isn’t the issue, gender inequality is.
Make 2023 the year you react with impact, by becoming a Global Citizen and joining the movement of people around the world taking action, making our voices heard, and championing solutions to the world's biggest challenges. Sign up as a Global Citizen, download our app, and together, let's make 2023 a year of activism and driving change in the mission to end extreme poverty NOW.