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50 years of good news: 1980s

Words by Smiley Team

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to 'Take the Time to Smile'.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley's book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 1980s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]


Smallpox Is Eradicated 

In announcing one of the greatest achievements in public health worldwide, the World Health Organization declared in 1980 that smallpox had been completely eradicated, three thousand years after it was discovered. The disease was stamped out thanks to the important work of vaccines and a global campaign.


World’s First Female President Is Elected in Iceland 

Iceland became the first country in the world to elect a female president when Vigdís Finnbogadóttir won the election against three men in 1980. But while Finnbogadóttir was elected as the globe’s first female president, she wasn’t the world’s first female leader—in 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became Sri Lanka’s first female prime minister when her political party won in a landslide election. Today, over seventy countries have had women elected or appointed as heads of state or government, a number that will only continue to climb.


Triodos Bank Founded 

The Triodos Bank N.V. was founded with a mission of financing entrepreneurs who contribute to a fair and sustainable economy. Such organizations have amplified a sense of conscience in global business, inspiring others to put their money where their mouth is. 


Commercial Whale Hunting Is Banned Worldwide 

To protect whales after decades of extreme hunting and exploitation of the mammal for its meat, oil and blubber, the International Whaling Commission installed an indefinite moratorium on commercial whale hunting. The moratorium was put in place to protect the animal and prevent the species from going extinct.


Live AID Concert Raises $127 Million in African Famine Relief 

To raise money to help fight famine in Ethiopia, music’s biggest stars, including Queen, Madonna, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, performed at a sixteen-hour concert that was broadcast around the world. Between simultaneous concerts in London and Philadelphia, organizers raised $127 million.


Les Restos du Coeur Is Launched to Fight Hunger 

Founded by French comedian Coluche in 1985, Les Restos du Coeur is a charity organization that was launched to fight hunger and poverty by gathering food donations and serving free meals to anyone in need. Every year since its launch, the crème de la crème of French singers give their time and voices to put on free concerts and raise funds for charities. By banding together, their musical efforts have helped the organization serve over 1.5 billion meals and expand its mission beyond food insecurity to help those looking to re-enter society, find stable work and housing, receive school support and get access to legal advice. 


USA for Africa Records “We Are the World” for Charity 

To raise funds for the fight against famine and poverty in Ethiopia, musicians Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones organized a group of fellow global superstars to record a song for charity. With vocals from Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Tina Turner, among other musical legends, the song has raised over $60 million since its release in 1985.


UNICEF Forms Change for Good

As one of UNICEF’s longest-running and most notable partnerships, Change for Good works with the international airline industry to collect leftover foreign currency and donations from travelers while on board to support children in need all over the world. The program has raised more than $170 million since it was founded in 1987, the funds of which are used to purchase the lifesaving materials and services necessary for children to grow up in safe and nurturing environments.


Hands Across America Raises $15 Million to Fight Hunger 

In an effort to raise money to fight homelessness and hunger, participants formed a recordbreaking human chain that stretched from New York City all the way to California, as millions of people held hands for fifteen minutes. 


Aretha Franklin Becomes First Woman Elected to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, made history in 1987 when she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, setting the stage for generations of female rockers to come.


Montreal Protocol to Protect the Ozone Layer Is Enacted 

In an effort to safeguard the ozone layer and help it recover, the United Nations put together an international treaty to stop the production of ozone-depleting substances and phase out the chemicals causing its destruction. Adopted in 1987 and now signed by 198 countries, the Montreal Protocol is considered to be one of the most effective environmental global actions ever taken


Treatment for AIDS Is Discovered 

As the AIDS pandemic swept the globe in the 1980s, scientists worked hard to put an end to this mysterious immune disorder. In 1986, they discovered that AZT, an anti-cancer drug developed in 1964, could improve the survival rates of AIDS patients, and in 1987 the drug became the first one to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the disease.


Akhtar Hameed Khan Launches Microfinance Project 

The Orangi Pilot Project – Orangi Charitable Trust (OPP – OCT) was established in 1987 as an independent and autonomous institution in Orangi, a low-income settlement of over one million people. Spearheaded by Pakistani microfinance pioneer Akhtar Hameed Khan, the program aimed to empower communities to take an active participation in their own development by providing credit in urban and rural areas.


Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Becomes First Woman Leader of a Muslim Nation 

Benazir Bhutto made history when she was elected prime minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman elected to lead a Muslim nation.


Second Summer of Love Takes Place 

Inspired by the sounds of Ibiza nightlife, a new sound came to the clubs in London in the summer of 1988. Donning bandannas, baggy pants, Converse shoes and shirts with smiley faces galore, clubgoers ushered in the rise of acidhouse music and a new era of music production, creating a new energy among the crowds. This spirit of human connection found on the dance floor superseded years of street violence and hooliganism, bringing people together under the banner of “the Second Summer of Love.”


The Berlin Wall Is Torn Down 

The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the first step toward reuniting East and West Germany. The barrier between East and West Berlin was torn down in 1989, lifting travel restrictions and reuniting family, friends and loved ones.

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