GirlzFTW's co-founder creates a global mentorship program for the next generation of gender equality advocates
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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.

Priyanka Jaishinghani is a social entrepreneur, journalist, and advocate with a passion for making an impact. As the co-founder of a global mentorship program, GirlzFTW, she works to connect high school and college girls to inspiring mentors. Priyanka is also driving impact through her work as Managing Editor of Conscious Magazine and as a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers community.



What does #EqualEverywhere mean to you?

#EqualEverywhere means closing the gender gap so women have access to equal opportunities.

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

Almost 1 billion girls and young women lack the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing labor market. Women remain underrepresented in leadership and management positions both publicly and privately. According to Women, Business and the Law, globally, there are only six countries that give girls the same working rights as men. In addition, only 5% of women hold CEO positions across leading Fortune 500 companies.

These daunting statistics make me want to balance the playing field by investing in women across the globe.

What motivates you to do this work?

Growing up, I lived in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, India, and the U.S., where I realized that girls and women needed more real life mentors. Indeed, irrespective of geography, girls face similar issues worldwide. My conviction that it is up to us to tackle adverse norms and promote positive role models motivated me to co-create GirlzFTW in 2017 (FTW stands for For The Win). It is gratifying that today, I'm building those very resources and platforms that I wish I had when I was younger.

GirlzFTW made it possible for 16 mentees hailing from India, Canada, and the U.S. to connect with inspiring and powerful mentors to help achieve their goals. Currently, girls participating in our network represent over 70 countries — from Ethiopia to Bangladesh.

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

As a global program, GirlzFTW encounters many types of gender inequality and provides a platform through which girls can share their stories. On the one hand, some countries have jumped miles ahead by introducing progressive laws and more tolerant societal norms. On the other hand, women in far too many countries must fight hard to even obtain a seat at the table.

A key lesson I have learned is that the first step toward narrowing the inequality gap is to instill confidence among women and girls by equipping them with the skills they need to speak up for themselves. Strengthening their voices requires concerted effort and deliberate networking.

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

Through global mentorship, GirlzFTW is channeling the magic of women every day. We do this by connecting girls in high school and college to inspirational and amazing women from diverse fields, industries, and backgrounds.

In 2019, we hosted the first 'The Girlz, RTW (Run the World) Conference', held as a collaboration between The World With MNR, Trinity College, and GirlzFTW. The event provided girls at the University of Toronto access to training, empowerment, career development advice, and mentorship. Over 100 girls came together to connect and network with like-minded female leaders.

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

Technology and a range of social media platforms are allowing us to amplify our voices beyond the usual advocacy communities that we naturally connect with. We've seen how a single tweet or video can spark a larger movement and create a multiplier effect.

While we have a lot of work ahead of us, women are rising and demanding a seat at the table — whether in politics, board rooms, or in the workplace. It is especially encouraging to see more diverse groups coming together in ways that allow decisions for women to be made by women.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.