+
Equal Everywhere

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

This advocate from Detroit is fighting for equity, justice, and gender equality for all
United Nations Foundation
True

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.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

Keep ReadingShow less

A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

Keep ReadingShow less

Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

Keep ReadingShow less