Lockdown leaving you with a feeling of existential dread? You’re far from alone.


Staying on top of the headlines might still feel like a thankless task in early 2021, but amidst the doom and gloom there remain some brilliant nuggets of joy and optimism – and every Tuesday, we’ll endeavour to find them.


So, without further ado, here are the stories giving us hope this week…


Contraceptive pill could be sold without prescription 

Image: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition/Unsplash


Two contraceptive pills could soon be made available without prescription in the UK, under plans being described as a “landmark opportunity in women’s health”.


The government and MRHA have launched a public consultation asking whether offering two mini-pills over-the-counter would improve choice for women.


Currently, Lovima and Hana contraceptives are only available on prescription from a GP or sexual health clinic, but the drugs’ makers have applied for reclassification.


The move is supported by a host of women’s organisations, including BPAS, which says pharmacy sale “should improve access to an extremely safe method of contraception.” 


The consultation will remain open for public contribution until March 5.


First African and first woman director general takes the reins at WTO

Image: AFP via Getty Images


Nigerian Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made history yesterday as the first African and first woman to be appointed director general of the World Trade Organisation.


The “reform candidate”, who previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister, takes leadership of the institution’s 650 staff and $220m budget at a critical time for international trade.


The WTO is in disarray and has been leaderless for six months, after Donald Trump went against consensus to block Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment last autumn.


But the process was finally completed yesterday following the intervention of President Joe Biden, who threw his support behind the new appointment.


UK scientists develop urine test for womb cancer

Image: Michael Longmire/Unsplash


A new urine test for womb cancer could save thousands of women from having to face painful, invasive and expensive screening procedures each year, scientists say.


The test, developed by a team at Manchester University, uses a microscope to accurately detect womb cancer in samples collected at home by patients.


Rolled out, the screening process could put end to first-step diagnostic hysteroscopies, a third of which have to be repeated each year due to technical issues or intolerable pain.


The new method, which proved as accurate as invasive screening in early testing of 216 women, will now undergo large-scale trials with a view to widespread use in future.


Britney Spears’ father denied greater control of her finances 

Image: Allen Berezovsky/Wireimage File


A US judge this week denied a request from Britney Spears’ father to allow him greater control over her finances.


Instead, Los Angeles Judge Brenda Penny upheld a previous ruling that Jamie Spears must share conservatorship of the singer’s estate with a financial company.


Jamie Spears took control of his daughter’s affairs in 2008, citing concerns for her mental health – but she’s recently indicated she wants him removed from his role as conservator.


The case has come under renewed public scrutiny over recent days, following the release of Framing Britney Spears, a New York Times documentary examining the star’s guardianship and treatment by the media.


Another hearing is scheduled for March 17.


Meghan and Harry ‘overjoyed’ to be expecting second child

Image: Misan Harriman/Duke and Duchess of Sussex/PA


The Duke and Duchess of Sussex say they’re overjoyed to be expecting their second child later this year.


The couple announced the news of their pregnancy with the release of a black and white photograph, taken remotely by their friend, photographer Misan Harriman.


It comes just months after Meghan revealed her devastation over suffering a miscarriage last summer, describing the experience as an “almost unbearable grief”.


She later said she spoke out to raise awareness of the realities of baby loss, with one in eight pregnancies in the UK believed to end in miscarriage each year.


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