5 million Indian women just made a 385-mile human chain for equality.

The human chain formed by millions of Indian women on New Year's Day makes a powerful statement.

On January 1, 2019, 5 million women in the southern Indian state of Kerala lined up shoulder to shoulder to form a "women's wall" 385 miles (620 km) long. The wall was a statement of gender equality, and a call to end violent protests against women trying to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, a pilgrimage site for Hindus.

The Guardian reports that women of all ages have the legal right to enter the temple, as India's supreme court ruled on the matter in September. However, religious tradition has held that only men and elderly women may enter. Even after the court's ruling, women of menstrual age have been met with violence and abuse as they attempt to worship at the temple.


Women's wall, 620 kilometer long, 5 million women, across all 14 districts of the Indian state of Kerala, refusing to go back to the medieval ages and claiming gender justice. http://bit.ly/2Anzslu

Posted by Aparnesh Dattatreya on Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The wall is also a reminder that India is seen as the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman.

Women in India face various forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, including gang rape, tribal practices, sex trafficking, forced servitude, and more. In 2012, India was found to be the fourth most dangerous country for women according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll. In 2018, it climbed to number one.  

India ranks as the worst country in the world for women in several areas measured by the poll, including:

- Cultural practices, which include acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child marriage, punishment by stoning, physical abuse, or mutilation and female infanticide/foeticide

- Sexual violence, which includes rape (domestic, stranger, or as a weapon of war), lack of justice in rape cases, sexual harassment and sexual coercion as a form of corruption

- Human trafficking, including sex slavery, forced labor and servitude, and forced marriage.

(In case you're curious, the United States came in at number 10 on the list this year—the only Western nation to make the top 10.)

This wall of women is a powerful show of unity, letting the world—and their country—know that they're done putting up with gender-based violence.

The abuse of women trying to enter a sacred temple is just one symptom of a much larger gender violence problem in India. Since the brutal gang rape of a female student on a New Delhi bus—an assault that eventually led to her death—gained international attention in 2012, India has been on global organizations' radar for violence against women. However, things don't appear to have improved much since.

In 2017, India began offering state-issued wooden bats to women to fend off drunken abusive partners with a promise that police would not intervene. Oxfam India has helped form a coalition of organizations working to end violence against women in the South Asia region, but clearly more needs to be done to turn the tide.

We've seen time and time again that when women come together and raise their voices as one, change follows. Hopefully this powerful "women's wall" will help move the needle for women in India as they inspire others around the world with their show of unity.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Fox 5 / YouTube

Back in February, northern Virginia was experiencing freezing temperatures, so FOX 5 DC's Bob Barnard took to the streets to get the low down. His report opens with him having fun with some Leesburg locals and trying his hand at scraping ice off their parked cars.

But at about the 1:50 mark, he was interrupted by an unaccompanied puppy running down the street towards the news crew.

The dog had a collar but there was no owner in sight.

Barnard stopped everything he was doing to pick the dog up off the freezing road to keep it safe. "Forget the people we talked to earlier, I want to get to know this dog," he told his fellow reporters back in the warm newsroom.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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