A gender statistician is making sure women are counted in Kenya
United Nations Foundation
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This story was originally shared on #EqualEverywhere — a campaign to champion the changemakers working to make equality for girls and women a reality. You can find the original story here.

Caroline Gatwiri Mutiwiri is a gender statistician at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

What does #EqualEverywhere mean to you?
#EqualEverywhere is fundamentally about fairness. It means that women and men as well as girls and boys enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections, irrespective of their orientation, gender, or any other defining characteristic. Notably, #EqualEverywhere does not assume uniform treatment of all people, since deliberate steps are needed to reach gender parity and to redress the exclusion of girls, women, and marginalized groups.

Why do you advocate for equal rights for girls and women?
Men and women are not equal and gender affects an individual's living experience. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is essential to a prosperous, sustainable world. Inequalities faced by girls begin right at birth and follow them all their lives. Women and girls represent half of the world's population — empowering them can facilitate a more peaceful society where everyones' full potential can be realized. By accelerating social progress, gender equality can correct the long-held status quo of men being better positioned in social, economic, and political arena than women.

What motivates you to do this work?
Steady progress in integrating gender perspectives into development policies over the past few decades has motivated me. Kenya's progress across many sectors is a case in point. According to World Bank data, the share of Kenya's waged and salaried female workers in the labor force rose from 19.4% in 2000 to 23% in 2018, a significant shift, albeit still low when compared to men, who constitute 53.2% of the workforce. News of this disparity led to a push for equality everywhere. Nonetheless, women globally earn 77 cents for every dollar that men receive for the same work, so clearly, we are far from #EqualEverywhere. Likewise, more effort is required in the economic and political sectors where the disparities persist and where legislative reforms and affirmative action are needed.


What are the main challenges you experience in your work to advance gender equality?
A lack of political goodwill, inadequate legal protections, weak legislative enforcement and resource shortfalls are delaying advances. Gender stereotyping and lack of awareness regarding what constitutes gender-sensitive policy making persists. Kenya, for instance, has struggled to pass Bill 2018, known as the Gender Bill, due to lack of political will.

What progress are you seeing as a result of your work?
As awareness of gender inequalities spreads, discussions are opening up — people are beginning to reject gender stereotypes, some of which are formed in the workplace. As gender advocacy begins to gain traction, more men accept that women can also hold the same positions as them and make positive contributions inside and outside the workplace. The realization that gender is not solely a women's issue but rather an all-inclusive priority for both men and women is taking hold. In addition, the frequency with which a gender dimension is included in processing and analyzing data is growing.

What progress are you seeing in the wider gender equality movement?
Harassment and violence perpetrated against women in the workplace are being identified and handled and racial discrimination is easing. Women are increasingly becoming role models, challenging the notion of male chauvinism and dominance. More and more women are joining the labor force and the push to select female CEOs and to foster entrepreneurship among women is intensifying, particularly in big economies like the U.S. This motivates other countries and international bodies to champion for gender equality. The rise of women in politics, which has long been dominated by men, is also encouraging.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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