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The biggest (and best) positive news highlights of 2023!

Words by Abi Scaife

We are just a few days away from 2024 and 2023 has been a doozy. So much has happened, and it might seem kind of overwhelming to look at on your own - which is why we’ve put together the main positive news highlights of the year!

Take a look back all the way to January 2023 and onwards, to see the biggest and best in good news!


TOP BRITISH UNIS OFFERED FREE ONLINE COURSES to Afghan women, as long as they are banned from attending University by the Taliban. Through FutureLearning, institutions such as Trinity College, Dublin, University of Nottingham, York University, University of Leeds, London's Goldsmiths and UCL helped to provide thousands of women with their right to education.


SPAIN’S PASSED THEIR ‘TRANS LAW’, making them one of the few countries where you can self-identify your gender on official documents. Before this, adjusting your gender on legal documents required a medical diagnosis of body dysmorphia and two years of treatment to change your appearance to match your gender. Now, it is simply based on your self-identification!


OF COURSE, WE MUST MENTION the 2023 Smiley Charity Film Awards! Charities from all across the UK came out for a night of glitz, glamour and giving as we celebrated all the work that goes into giving back. Stay tuned for news about the Smiley Charity Film Awards in 2024!


INDIA’S ‘PROJECT TIGER’ CELEBRATED 50 YEARS. The project was launched under then-prime minister Indira Gandhi on 1 April 1973, and has been hugely helpful in helping tigers return from the brink of extinction. When the project began there were 9 tiger reserves in India - now there are over 50.


COVID HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED OVER BY WHO. While COVID-19 still exists, the worldwide emergency that was declared in 2020 officially came to an end in May 2023. This marked a huge change for everyone around the world as more restrictions lifted, and death rates plummeted.


BRAZIL AIMS TO END DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON BY 2030 and announced their plan to do so in June of this year. By this point, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had been in office for six months and deforestation had already dropped by 34%, and since the plan was announced, that downward trend has continued.


NEPAL LEGALISES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. Nepal became the first country in South Asia to legally recognise same-sex marriages - and then, just a few short months later, the first marriage was registered. 


ONE MILLION LIVES SAVED IN ‘GOLDEN ERA’ ACCORDING TO CANCER RESEARCH UK. Charity Cancer Research UK’s analysis found that strides forward in cancer treatments have saved over one million lives in the last 40 years - a time they are calling the ‘golden era’. It’s amazing to reflect on how far we have come - and see how many more lives can be saved.


BRITAIN IS MORE LIBERAL IN ALMOST EVERYTHING compared to the last 40 years according to the latest British social attitudes study. Attitudes on gay marriage, single parents, abortion and more have become more and more liberal, which is amazing news for the country!


SINGLE-USE PLASTICS were banned in England as of October 1st 2023 - meaning plastic plates, cutlery, trays, containers and more that are intended to be used once and discarded are no longer being produced. 


CANADA BANS TRADE OF ELEPHANT IVORY and rhino horns within the country - a historic move. Domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn is now illegal, and hunting trophies containing them can no longer be brought into the country, marking a critical step in conservation.


INDIA REVEALS FLATPACK HOSPITALS that can be dropped into disaster zones. The hospitals are made up of a number of small, waterproof cubes that can be dropped into areas where people are in need of emergency medical care. This flatpack hospital means that surgeons can operate on people who need it within an hour.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

The Climate Coalition. This is the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action against climate change. Find out more and support them here.

Disability Rights UK. Disability Rights UK is the UK’s leading organisation led by, run by, and working for disabled people. Find out more.

Equally Ours. This is a UK charity that brings together people and organisations working across equality, human rights and social justice to make a reality of these in everyone’s lives. Find out more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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