So, here we are, the last column of the year.
This year has been an eventful year, both for me as a woman and as a human being.
I have found myself in moments of passionate uproar for the causes that are close to my heart, and also, in celebration of the bravery of the very people who wear their heart on their sleeve, making themselves vulnerable to criticism as they change the world with their contribution and sacrifices.
2015 was the year of women in Iceland. Iceland celebrated the centennial anniversary of the right to vote, that is, the right of women 40 years and over to vote in a national election.
My maternal great-grandmother was one of those women, and I feel proud to be her descendant, because she challenged the norms of her time so that women could take control of their lives.
The last (and possibly the only) film I watched in the cinema this year was Suffragette. It was not an easy one to watch, but it reminded me of the struggles of women throughout the centuries and how I got to be where I am today.
I was filled with gratitude, but at the same time saddened by how incredibly hard they had to fight for the basic right to cast a vote.
This year, the feminist movement has been very active in Iceland. There have been several social media revolutions, among them the Free the Nipple campaign and the largest Slut Walk to ever have been organized in Iceland.
The winners of a national talent show for youth aged 13-16, left a great impression on all of us. The competition is called Skrekkur, which you can watch here and see how impressive these young women are and experience yourself the powerful message they deliver with a slap-in-the face reality check. These girls are the future and what a bright future it is.
For me, the inspirational revival of the women’s rights movement is largely due to the young and the spirited who are not afraid of challenging the norms that need to change in order to for us to be able to call ourselves an equal society.
To me, 2016 is another opportunity to shine, and a year for all of us to make a difference in our own special way.
Another issue of vital importance that struck me this year was the so-called refugee problem, an issue that is not problematic to me at all. To me, it all boils down to one thing and one thing only, and that is human compassion.
Opening our embrace to people in need is not only an act of kindness but the giving of human dignity, to give the gift of an opportunity to start a new life in a new home, whether it is permanent or not.
In 2016, refugees will be welcomed to Iceland and I wish the new residents all the best. To me, there is no them and us, just us. If we avoid categorizing human beings that way, we will be on our way toward a beautiful multicultural society where our talents enrich society.
So now, as the year I turned 35 comes to an end, a year in which I became a yoga-loving long-distance runner, I look forward to seeing what 2016 brings my way, and more importantly, our way.
Will it bring peace and unity?
The sceptic in me doubts it, but the dreamer and the humanitarian in me sincerely hopes that will be the case.
I will at the very least do my bit to make this world a better place.
My readers, I thank you for reading my column this year and I look forward to another year of writing.
I wish you all a year of bliss and beauty.
Júlíana Björnsdóttir – [email protected]