This advocate from Detroit is fighting for equity, justice, and gender equality for all
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.

London J. Bell is Founder and President of the Bell Global Justice Institute. She is connecting the drive for equality from Michigan to the world while raising awareness about what it will take to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals. Bell is also a member of UNA-USA, and is a UNA Women Co-Chair.

What does #EqualEverywhere mean to you?

To me #EqualEverywhere means gender equality in every area of life for every global citizen. #EqualEverywhere means equal pay, equal access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities for all. #EqualEverywhere means equal access to participation in the political process on local, national, and international levels. #EqualEverywhere means the eradication of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Why do you advocate for equal rights for girls and women?

I advocate because I know the impact of the oppression of girls and women around the world. I am particularly concerned with violence against women and girls and the lack of access to justice for victims and survivors as well as the impunity of perpetrators. The absence of justice reinforces the belief that the dehumanization of women and girls is acceptable and normal. As an advocate, I use my voice to let law and policy makers know that the dehumanization of women and girls is 100% unacceptable. I am particularly vocal about laws, policies, and customs that strengthen protections for women and girls locally and globally.

What motivates me to do this work?

I am motivated to do this work because I know the lives of women and girls are at risk of violence around the world every hour of the day. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where women and girls are often impacted by violence in many forms. This past summer, I was deeply troubled when I learned that, within the span of one week, four African-American women were murdered in Detroit. In response to this violence, in August 2019, I organized and led a Universal Periodic Review Consultation Session (UPR) on gender-based violence with fellow members of the United Nations Association of Greater Detroit. Our Consultation Session was included in UNA-USA's National UPR Consultation ahead of the country's scheduled appearance before the UN as part of its Periodic Review in May 2020. When we held our UPR Session at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, an inter-generational, intercultural group of about 25 community leaders offered personal stories, observations, and recommendations for the U.S. to address systemic issues that perpetuate all forms of violence against women here at home and globally. As an advocate, a member of UNA-USA, and as a UNA Women Co-Chair, I will continue to use my voice to empower women and girls and to demand accountability in every area of life where women and girls are adversely impacted.


What are the main challenges you experience in your work to demand gender equality?

One main challenge for me is sitting down with people in my community and even my family and having tough conversations around the systemic oppression of women and girls, the intersectionalities of women and girls, and the ways in which power and privilege work against gender equality. I have had many hard conversations with very well-meaning people who may not even realize how laws, policies, institutions, and systems continue to subjugate women and girls, even institutions and systems that many among us may benefit from. Though these conversations are challenging, most people are open to becoming part of the solution and resist adhering to their preexisting views and opinions. The more we dialogue about achieving gender equality as a community, the closer we move toward making it a reality. I am committed to continuing these conversations to bring us closer to gender equality, one person at a time.

What progress are you seeing as a result of your work?

As a human rights advocate, I spend time with young people discussing issues around human rights, gender inequality, and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. When I talk with young people, I am so encouraged to hear girls and young women speak about ways they assert themselves in different situations and offer ideas for empowering themselves and fellow young women and girls. In addition, I have had the privilege to conduct a workshop about gender inequality with high school boys at Cass Tech High School in Detroit. When I walked into the room and asked for a show of hands of how many of the boys supported gender equality and supported women's and girls' rights, every boy raised their hand with enthusiasm. These are important examples of progress for me.

What progress are you seeing in the wider gender equality movement?

I am seeing that the movement for gender equality is everywhere! I was very excited when I learned Secretary-General Guterres declared himself a feminist at the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2018 (CSW62). I am happy to see the UN work toward gender equality under his leadership. The movement toward electing more women to government positions in Rwanda and Ethiopia is also exciting. Here in the U.S., more women, particularly women of color, are running for office at every level of government and are in turn being sworn in at every level of government. When women are at the table when laws and policies are created, the needs of women and girls are more likely to be considered. This is progress to me.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.