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10 Good Things that Happened in 2020

6. NASA named its headquarters in Washington, D.C. after Mary W. Jackson, the space agency’s first Black female engineer.

Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson. Image credits: NASA

In 1958, Mary Jackson, an American aerospace engineer and mathematician, became the first black female engineer at NASA. After 34 years of working at the space agency, she earned the most senior engineering title available. At this point, she realized that she would not earn any more promotions without becoming a supervisor. So, she accepted a demotion and became a manager of the Federal Women’s Program and the Affirmative Action Program. Her work influenced the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s mathematics, engineering, and science careers.

In 2016, the world got to know about Jackson’s career at NASA and her work on Project Mercury during the Space Race through the movie Hidden Figures. The movie was based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name. In 2018, the Salt Lake City school board voted to officially name Jackson Elementary School after Mary Jackson instead of (as it originally was) after President Andrew Jackson.

Most remarkably and appropriately, on June 24, 2020, Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, announced that the agency’s Washington headquarters will be named after Mary Jackson and will henceforth be known as the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters. Bridenstine released a statement saying, “Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space.”

What made this change even more prominent is that it occurred at a time of introspection throughout the US about the historical injustices that African Americans have suffered and continue to suffer to this day. (1, 2)

7. A group of Nigerian-Irish teens developed an app for people living with dementia. 

While most of us were busy struggling with the effects of the pandemic, three Nigerian-Irish teens devoted their time to developing an app that can be of assistance to patients with dementia. The app uses music to comfort those living with this degenerative disease. The three teenage girls named Joy, Margaret, and Rachel were worried about how people suffering from this disease were coping during the lockdown. So, they decided to code and design an app called Memory Haven.

The girls won the Technovation Girls international competition, which challenges young women to build apps that will help solve a problem in their community. The girls were guided by Evelyn Nomayo, an Afro-Irish developer who is also the founder of Phase Innovate. When Nomayo told the girls about her mother who experienced dementia, they were inspired to create an app that could help with the disorder. Their app won out of over 1,500 other submissions that came from 62 countries. (1, 2)

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8. Crayola launched a box of crayons with diverse skin colors so that children can “accurately color themselves into the world.” 

Crayola
Image credits: Crayola

When you talk about children’s art supplies, the brand that first comes to mind is Crayola. Famous for its crayons, the company recently launched a box that stood out from the standard ones. In an effort to promote an inclusive world where children of all ages, cultures, races, and ethnicities can thrive, Crayola launched its latest box of crayons that represent various skin tones.

Aptly named “Colors of the World,” the box includes 24 new crayons that are designed to represent and mirror over 40 different skin tones. CEO Rich Wuerthele said in a statement that he hopes the new product will “foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance.”

Each crayon is wrapped in a gradient skin tone label where the name of the color will be written in French, Spanish, and English. They will also have realistic color names such as Medium Deep Rose, Deep Almond, and Light Golden. (1, 2)

9. Marcus Rashford forced the UK prime minister to take a major U-turn over free school meals.

Marcus Rashford
Image credits: Kirill Venediktov/Soccer.ru

When celebrities come forward to help the less fortunate, it always grabs our attention. Earlier this year, the British government made a decision to not fund free meals for the impoverished children of England throughout the summer holidays. In a country where around 1.3 million children come from households that have an annual income of less than £7,400, this decision was undoubtedly harsh.

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After the decision was announced, 22-year-old Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, penned a heartfelt, open letter to the government asking it to extend the system to help the families who had been most affected by the pandemic.

Though his plea was initially rejected, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ultimately revised his decision. This way, children who qualify for free school meals during the term got a six-week voucher that helped them get free meals during the holidays as well. (1, 2)

10. Scotland became the first country in the world to offer free sanitary products for all.

Scotland- Free sanitary products
Scotland became 1st country to give free sanitary products.

After a four-year-long campaign that essentially started and shifted the public dialog around menstruation, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to pads, tampons, and other menstrual period products.

The Period Products Act passed unanimously in November, and it will place a legal duty on various local authorities to make sanitary products available for those who need them.

Many individuals and families struggle to pay for period products every month, and the situation got worse during the pandemic. Research shows that nearly one in five women has experienced period poverty at some point in their life.

This has a significant effect on their health, hygiene, and overall wellbeing. The new scheme will now make these sanitary products available to those in need and will make a massive difference in the lives of every girl and woman who menstruates. (1, 2)

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