Year In Review: From Transgender Rights To Campus Uprisings, Top 10 Ways Society Changed In 2015

Care2's expert social activists tracked how people across the world spoke out and made a difference

Dec 07, 2015, 16:41 ET from Care2

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Dec. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As one of the biggest years for social advocacy draws to a close, online activist network Care2 released today the Top 10 Social Movements of 2015, for the first time marking the significant shifts throughout the year in politics, consumer trends and technology.

Filled with moments that changed national/international conversations and drove an uptick in online petitions, 2015 will certainly stand out as a big year for social activism, with people taking to the streets and online forums to protest the killing of Cecil the Lion and standing up for a growing transgender-rights movement, aided by paparazzi glare on Caitlyn Jenner.

The Top 10 Social Movements of 2015 encompasses issues that not only inspired petitions but spurred marches, media attention and passionate supporters- Pope Francis among them. Care2 monitored the activity spurred by social activists on The Petition Site, the global site that launched the petition that attracted more than 1.1 million people to speak out against Zimbabwe trophy hunting, along with fluctuations in media attention to specific causes, to compile the list of the year's most impactful, attention-grabbing issues. 

The Top 10 Social Movements of 2015 are:

  • #BlackLivesMatter. Starting as a hashtag campaign in 2013, Black Lives Matter evolved into a full political force in 2015, with activists taking to the streets to protest police brutality and ambushing political candidates about their positions on the black community.
  • Marriage Equality Before the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage nationally, the grassroots community spoke through countless marches, advocacy campaigns and petitions on a state-by-state basis, resulting in equality for all, and a generation-shifting image for the history books of The White House lit up in rainbow colors. Afterwards, the hashtag #LoveWins spread the victory throughout social media.
  • Transgender Rights From Caitlyn Jenner's mass-media advocacy to the smallest campaigns in middle- and high schools across the US, such as those demanding gender-neutral bathrooms, the plight and the rights of trans people emerged to lively public discourse.
  • Climate Change Back on the front burner, so to speak, was climate change, thanks in part to rock-star advocate Pope Francis, who released an official papal encyclical, backed up with tweets to his 8 million Twitter followers, to do Earth-kind actions such as carpooling, reducing electricity usage and planting trees, providing momentum for the year-end COP21 climate-change conference outside of Paris.
  • Cecil the Lion A petition on Care2 quickly topped 1 million signatures and helped stoke global outrage when one of Zimbabwe's prized lions was lured out of Hwange National Park and killed by a Minnesota dentist, putting a harsh spotlight on trophy hunting as a sport.
  • #Feminism Traction for women's rights re-entered public discourse, with support coming from multiple sectors including the presidential runs of Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, vocal protests against Bill Cosby, and an assist from Hollywood with Bradley Cooper and others demanding wage equality for female co-stars, such as Jennifer Lawrence.
  • Campus Activism University of Missouri, Harvard University, Amherst College and other campuses across the US came alive in protest, with students marching and speaking out about racial inequality, rape and other social injustices.
  • Planned Parenthood became the lightening rod of activists on both sides of the abortion debate with anti-abortion activists releasing doctored undercover videos of executives talking about the selling of fetus parts, spurring robust support from Pro Choice advocates, putting the funding of women's health programs back in debate.
  • Income Inequality/Minimum Wage Outrage over the income gap between the 1% and 99% expanded, as protestors in New York City and elsewhere took to the streets in protest, demanding a $15 minimum wage as an initial remedy to this disparity.
  • Working-Animal Rights Not only did 2015 see more scrutiny on employee rights, but also the rights of working animals too. Some of the year's most viral petitions centered on Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, leading them to announce this year they will shut down performing elephant acts by 2018. Additionally, SeaWorld San Diego vowed to cease its killer whale show in 2016, a step that other parks may follow.

"2015 is a milestone year for social advocacy," Care2 CEO and Founder Randy Paynter says. "In Care2's 17 years supporting civic engagement, we have seen few, if any, years as active as this past one.  Today, individuals realize that when they stand together in collective power, and leverage social media, they can achieve extraordinary results. We are entering a golden era for the power of the masses – the powerful are being held accountable like never before."

"Care2's 33 million member community for good will continue to stand together for a kinder, more just and inclusive world in 2016."

Randy Paynter is available for Interview/Comment. Contact Prerana Swami, (212) 528-1691,

The original online petition service for citizen activists, Care2 has evolved since its inception in 1998 to become the destination for online advocacy.  To help individual petition authors build successful campaigns, Care2 staff provides free strategy, promotion and media support and a powerful social network to kick start viral campaigns.

As activist campaigns increasingly swell into global phenomena, Care2 continues to be on the forefront of pressing social issues, providing a vast forum for discussion of issues and strategies for effecting change, while helping people stand together for collective impact on important issues.

About Care2 
Care2, the longest running petition site, is a social network of over 33 million activists standing together for good.  Care2 helps individuals start petitions and make a difference in their community while helping over 1500 nonprofit clients recruit more than 40 million prospective donors worldwide. Care2 petitions have received international acclaim for making a difference in human rights, women's rights, animal welfare, the environment and other important causes.  Care2 is a profitable B Corporation, or social enterprise, using the power of business as a force for good. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.