The news is not often a joy to read. And when hope feels almost impossible to come by, the urge to switch off and disconnect from the headlines is entirely understandable.
But as hard as it is to believe, good things are still happening. That’s why, every Tuesday, we seek out the nuggets of joy and optimism hiding behind the gloom of the front pages.
So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…
Domestic Abuse Bill signed into law
The UK’s landmark bill aimed at protecting and supporting victims of domestic abuse has been signed into law, finally becoming the Domestic Abuse Act.
The act enshrines, for the first time in history, a legal definition of domestic abuse which goes beyond physical violence to incorporate psychological abuse and coercive control behaviours.
A new offence of non-fatal strangulation has been introduced and a ban imposed on killers using the so-called ‘rough sex defence’.
Meanwhile children will be recognised as domestic abuse victims in their own right for the first time, while cross examination of survivors is to be banned in the nation’s family courts to prevent intimidation.
The act, however, falls short of protecting migrant women with no recourse to public funds – something campaigners say they will continue to push for.
Women claim full sweep of UK’s top diplomatic roles
For the first time in British history, women now hold all of the nation’s top diplomatic jobs.
The appointment of Menna Rawlings, pictured, as the UK’s first female ambassador to Paris means that all nine of the country’s most senior diplomatic postings are now held by women.
The sweep includes Britain’s ambassadorships to the United Nations, Washington, Berlin, Tokyo, Canberra, Beijing, Moscow, Paris and Rome.
It represents a sea change in the formerly male-dominated service, which women were banned from until 1946 and forced to resign from upon marriage until 1973.
Full abortion services ordered for NI by summer
The Department of Health has been told it must take “concrete steps” towards the commissioning of full abortion services in Northern Ireland by summer.
MPs last week stepped in and voted to allow Westminster to propel a rollout in the country, amid continuing delays in expanding women’s healthcare in the devolved nation.
Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019, but access to care remains patchy at best, with some health boards still providing no services at all.
Stormont and Westminster are now facing legal action from the Human Rights Commission over the delay, with the case due to be heard at the end of May.
Conservation shown to stave off conflict
Conservation should be viewed as an effective peacekeeping tool, according to a new report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
It’s found that armed conflicts are far less likely to occur in areas which are designated as protected places.
The researchers behind the report believe that conservation efforts are leading to a reduction in the stressors on land and natural resources that often lead to unrest.
The IUCN’s chief economist, Juha Siikamäki, said the study highlights the need to “factor in the links between conflict and nature when formulating security, development and environmental policy.”
Co-op bans plastic bags for life
Co-op has become the first UK supermarket to ban plastic ‘bags for life’, amid concerns they’ve become the new single use carrier bag.
The company has already begun phasing out their use in all 2,600 of its branches, with existing stock expected to be used by summer.
The plastic, low cost carriers are to be replaced with certified compostable bags, to eliminate the environmental threat of irresponsibly disposed carriers.
It follows concerns the plastic bag levy has failed to curb plastic waste as much as was initially hoped, with Co-op calling on the government to insist all reusable bags be compostable.
It’s also called for an increased minimum cost of 50p per bag, to eliminate the perception of them as single use products.