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It’s not so bad. Here are some things that improved in 2019

Year in review: Mike Armstrong reflects on 2019 from A-Z
Year in review: Mike Armstrong reflects on 2019 from A-Z

While it may seem as though 2019 was just one negative news story after another, it wasn’t all bad.

Amid the divisive politics, violent uprisings and devastating natural disasters there were moments of levity and, believe it or not, concrete improvements.

It’s easy for good news to be overshadowed, so Global News has made a list.

Here’s a look at some of the ways things improved last year.

Rate of extreme poverty on the decline

According to the United Nations, the rate of extreme poverty across the globe is on the decline.

READ MORE: Pregnant teens face higher rates of depression, poverty and substance use, study says

In its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report for 2019, the organization said the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty decreased to 10 per cent in 2015, from 16 per cent in 2010 and 36 per cent in 1990.

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According to the report, the 2018 rate of extreme poverty was down to 8.6 per cent.

The report said that over the past 25 years, more than one billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty.

Fewer children dying

When it comes to child survival rates, the United Nations said the world has made “remarkable progress.”

According to the SDG report, the under-five mortality rate has fallen by 49 per cent — from 77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 39 deaths in 2017.

The global neonatal mortality rate also fell from 31 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 18 deaths in 2017, representing a 41 per cent reduction.

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Striving for gender equality

Each year the World Economic Forum releases a Gender Parity Report that benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity.

In its 2020 report, the forum found that overall, the quest for equality has improved. Of the countries ranked, 101 improved their scores over the previous year.

Equality for girls everywhere as International Day of the Girl approaches
Equality for girls everywhere as International Day of the Girl approaches
The report said 25 countries have mostly closed the gender gap in education at 96.1 per cent. Health care was also close to parity at 95.7 per cent.It will, however, take 99.5 years to achieve gender parity worldwide — but that number is down from the 108 years projected in the forum’s 2018 index.

READ MORE: Canada falls 3 spots in global gender parity rankings to 19th place

While we may not see gender parity in our lifetime, a number of steps in the right direction were made this year:

  • In January, a record 102 women took seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • In November, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed his second gender-balanced cabinet.
  • Earlier this month, 34-year-old Sanna Marin was sworn in as prime minister of Finland. She now leads a coalition government with five women (four of whom are under the age of 35) occupying top spots.

According to the United Nations, as of Jan. 1 2019, women’s representation in national parliaments ranged from 0 per cent to 61.3 per cent, averaging at 24.3 per cent, an increase of five percentage points since 2010.

Democracy

There was also a rise in the number of protests and demonstrations across the globe for a wide variety of causes in 2019.

READ MORE: Yes, there are more protests around the world — and here’s why

This year has seen protests in Hong Kong, India, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Chile, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Puerto Rico, France and elsewhere.In a previous interview with Global News, Michael Heaney, a research fellow at the University of Glasgow said the protests around the world are doing three things.
The rise of protests around the world, explained
The rise of protests around the world, explained
“One is that as they become more normalized, people are more willing to participate in them,” he said. “A second is that decision-makers may be more likely to take their demands seriously, and the third is that some decision-makers may not take the demands seriously because they see them as kind of routinized.”In 2019, activists around the globe pushed back against corruption and marched for democracy, freedom of speech, equality and human rights.

Health victories

This year also saw a number of notable achievements when it comes to health:

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  • In March, doctors reported a London man appeared to become the second person ever to be cured of the AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant
  • In October, the world’s first Ebola vaccination received conditional authorization in what the World Health Organization (WHO) called a “triumph for public health.”
  • Later that month, the WHO announced a strain of polio known as poliovirus Type 3 (WPV3) was eradicated worldwide.
  • A month later, the world’s first HIV-positive sperm bank launched in New Zealand.
  • Researchers also unveiled a long-awaited therapy to treat cystic fibrosis that has proven to dramatically improve patients’ lung function, instead of just helping to manage symptoms.

-With files from The Associated Press and Maryam Shah