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…
Malaria vaccine trials herald breakthrough
A malaria vaccine has proven to be 77 per cent effective in early trials and could offer a major breakthrough in fighting one of the world’s most deadly diseases.
Malaria kills more than 400,000 people, mostly children, globally each year, yet no vaccine has previously met required standards at trial.
Now, researchers at Oxford University say their new jab could have huge implications for public health on a global level.
The vaccine will now go on to larger, next phase trials in nearly 5,000 children across four African countries.
Channel 4 unveils new pregnancy loss policy
Channel 4 has unveiled a new pregnancy loss policy containing a sweeping range of support measures believed to be the first of their kind in the world.
The broadcaster will now offer paid leave to all staff, regardless of gender or sexuality, in the wake of all types of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion.
The new approach also encompasses paid leave for medical appointments, as well as flexible working, access to counselling, medical help and support for returning to work.
The network said the move aims to recognise the impact of baby loss on employees, irrespective of their role as mother, carer, surrogate or partner.
Unveiling the policy yesterday, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “The loss of a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances, can be a form of grief that can have a lasting emotional and physical impact on the lives of many women and their partners. We hope that by giving away this pioneering policy we’re able to encourage other organisations to do the same.”
Fast fashion decline coming in next decade, says UBS
Consumers will increasingly turn their backs on fast fashion, leading to a decline of up to 30 per cent in the sector over the next decade, investment firm UBS has claimed.
The firm’s retail analysts say as consumers learn more about the environmental and human costs of fashion production, they’re less willing to support firms with unsustainable and unethical business models.
UBS’ spending predictions also suggest shoppers are becoming more savvy about greenwashing, with increased understanding that siloed sustainable collections don’t offset overproduction.
And its warned fashion’s retail giants their survival depends on “system redesign… rather than replacing conventional garments with ‘more sustainable’ alternatives.”
German gymnasts ditch leotards to tackle sexualisation in sport
A group of German gymnasts who donned full body suits for last week’s European Artistic Gymnastics Championships say they wanted to tackle the sexualisation of their sport.
Until now, women have only covered their legs in international competition for religious reasons, but the German team says it’s time to break that convention.
Sarah Voss, who first donned the catsuit before being followed by two of her teammates, said she hoped her decision, would “embolden” other competitors to follow suit.
Both the German and Dutch federations have since praised the approach, saying it could prevent competitors being marked down in judging for trying to make their leotards more comfortable.
Chloe Zhao named best director at ‘most diverse’ Oscars
Sunday’s socially-distanced Oscars have been hailed as the most representative yet, with nine out of 20 acting gongs going to people of colour.
Chloe Zhao made history as the first woman of colour – and second woman ever – to scoop best director for Nomadland, which also claimed best movie and best actress for Frances McDormand.
Youn Yuh-Jung became the first South Korean woman to win an acting Oscar, scooping the best supporting trophy at 73, while Daniel Kaluuya’s best supporting gong makes him the first Black Brit to scoop an Oscar.
Meanwhile, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win an Oscar for hair and make-up work. In her speech, Neal said she looked forward to a day when their success “won’t be unusual or groundbreaking; it will just be normal”.