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…


Journalist cleared of defamation in boost to India’s #MeToo movement

Image: Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint


An Indian journalist who accused a former government minister of sexual assault has been acquitted of defamation in a landmark verdict for the country’s #MeToo movement.


A court in Delhi ruled in favour of Priya Ramani, who had faced two years in prison for writing an article accusing editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar of attacking her during a job interview.


Ramani’s writing prompted a further 20 women to come forward with accusations against Akbar in 2018, leading him to resign from government before taking legal action against her.


Speaking following the verdict, Ramani said she felt “vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment in the workplace.”


Japan appoints Seiko Hashimoto to head 2020 Olympics

Image: Reuters


Japan’s Seiko Hashimoto has been appointed president of the Tokyo 2020 games, after her predecessor resigned in a sexism row.


The former Olympics Minister and seven-time Olympian said she now wants the legacy of the games to be increased acceptance of people regardless of gender, disability, sexual orientation or race.


She replaces Yoshiro Mori, who resigned following a backlash over his claims women in the workplace talk too much.


He also came under fire for attempting to line up another octogenarian man as his successor, leading to protests from Japanese equality campaigners.


New Zealand to tackle period poverty in schools

Image: Unsplash


Every school in New Zealand is to offer free tampons and sanitary towels for students from June, in a bid to curb the educational impact of hygiene poverty.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the rollout last week, following a pilot programme in a number of high-needs schools last year.


She said principals and poverty groups alike had been calling for the move, citing the number of pupils skipping class because they couldn’t afford to manage their menstruation.


Dignity NZ, a New Zealand-based NGO working to fight period poverty, estimates as many as 95,000 nine to 18-year-olds in the country may stay at home during their periods.


Perseverance rover returns first colour photos from Mars



The first ever colour photographs of Mars have been returned to earth, courtesy of NASA’s Perseverance Rover.


The vehicle, which touched down on the red planet on Thursday, has been gradually releasing data about its arrival and condition.


Once fully in commission, the one-tonne robot’s main task is to collect soil and rock samples for analysis by scientists seeking signs of previous microbial life on Mars.


Early images from the rover were this week described as “exhilarating” by NASA officials, while Perseverance itself ‘tweeted’: “The moment that my team dreamed of for years, now a reality. Dare mighty things.”


Phoebe Waller-Bridge named new president of Edinburgh Fringe

Image: John Shearer/Getty Images


Writer, actress and comedian Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been named the new president of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.


The star, who debuted her hit show Fleabag as a one-woman stage play at the event in 2008, was unanimously confirmed to the newly-created honorary role last week.


“This festival is a beating heart of an industry that has been all but crushed by the pandemic,” Waller-Bridge said, “and I’m proud to be a part of the fight with the Fringe Society for its much-needed survival and glorious return.”


The Fringe is due to return, either digitally or physically, in August, while community festival Fringe By The Sea said it’s planning to go ahead in a series of new mini-venues.


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