popular

A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Four heads of state interrupted Natasha Mwansa's 4-minute speech to give her a standing ovation.

A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Watch out world. The young women have arrived, and they're taking the reins.

From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.


Meet the latest young woman shaking the tree and speaking truth to power.

Natasha Wang Mwansa brought the house down with a 4-minute speech at the opening of Women Deliver 2019 on June 3rd.

Mwansa is an 18-year-old from Zambia, whose confidence appears to know no bounds and whose ability to articulate her thoughts without so much as a pause is awe-inspiring. She took the stage in the Vancouver Convention Centre with four world leaders—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Sahle-Work Zwede of Ethiopia, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya—and waited for her turn to speak.

When the time came, she gave the world leaders the what for—not in a disrespectful way, but with a frank and honest assessment of how they need to include young people in their policy decisions.

"One thing that really has to be emphasized," she began, "is that nothing is going to be done for us without us, because that's just doing it against us."

She paused to ask, "Can I stand? I feel more powerful when I stand." Then she stood in her power and wowed everyone. Rarely pausing for a breath, much less an "Um" or an "Uh," Mwansa laid down the hammer in the most eloquent way.

Less than two minutes into her speech, all four heads of state gave her a standing ovation, along with the rest of the crowd.

Mwansa told world leaders that we need more young people in positions of power, that they aren't just going to be helpless beneficiaries anymore. She also pointed out that gender equality and female empowerment can't just be something leaders pay lip service to—it has to be reflected in national priorities and budgets.

Then she really got going.

"I hate that we call these things 'child marriages.' That's pedophilia! It's inhumane!" she said. "These things have to be worked on and they have to be fought. We can't have girls be married off. We can't have girls not accessing education. We can't have girls not being able to take care of themselves every time of the month because of stereotypical behavior. No. We need gender equality and we need it to be reflected in national priorities."

Cheers from the crowd and the panel morphed into a standing ovation at that point. But Mwansa still had more to say. We need to build capacity in young people to empower them to have a say in decisions that affect them, she said. She pointed out that leaders need to be held accountable for their promises, to bridge the gap between what young people want and what governments provide, between what is promised and what is actually done.

"Politicians can talk, guys," she said. "But action? No. We need to hold them accountable."

There's more, but I can't do it justice. Mark my words, this girl will be a head of state herself one day. Just watch, and be prepared to want to stand and cheer yourself.


Natasha Mwansa Q&A during panel discussion of Women Deliver 2019 www.youtube.com

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less