A historic number of women are running for office this year. Here’s why that’s good news.
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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

If what they say is true, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the woman.

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From sister survivors organizing to prosecute their assailants to movements for equal pay in Hollywood and beyond, this year women across the country are demanding a voice on issues that matter. And in November, that surge of woman power is set to hit Congress during this year’s midterm elections.


As of October, 262 women are on the ballot for the November primaries for the House and Senate races, according to Center for Women and Politics.

And they're not all liberal candidates.

It’s a common misconception that women tend to be liberals and that gender equality issues are an exclusive hallmark of the political left.

In reality, women on both sides of the aisle are fighting for many of the same things. That’s why, come election time, an uptick in female representation would be great news for everyone — regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. Here’s why:

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Congresswomen are extremely capable. Just take a look at what they’ve done already.

Congress’s bipartisan Women’s Caucus, made up of both liberal and conservative women in the House and the Senate, is led by Rep. Susan Brooks and her Democratic counterpart Rep. Lois Frankel. Together with almost 60 congresswomen, Brooks and Frankel have worked for progress on key issues relevant to women and families, such as equal pay, parental leave, sexual harassment, and support for female entrepreneurs.

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“But when you think about it, all issues impact women and families,” says Susan Brooks. “So we have, together in a bipartisan way, tried to have discussions and promote legislation that impacts those areas.”

Their efforts have been largely successful. The Women’s Caucus' list of accomplishments includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects women from employer retaliation when they become pregnant, and the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which protects female entrepreneurs from discriminatory lending practices by banks favoring men. And that’s just two examples. The list of the caucus’s accomplishment is long and reaches right up to the present.

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Just last year, female leadership introduced mandatory reporting requirements to protect U.S. athletes from sexual harassment.

“Lois led the effort in the House — Susan Collins and Diane Feinstein led it in the Senate — to get a bill passed because Congress has oversight of the U.S. Olympic Committee,” explains  Brooks. Together, members of the Women’s Caucus passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which was signed into law in March of 2017.

There are men in Congress who are critical advocates for women. But that’s not enough.

Representatives Brooks and Frankel can both name a list of congressmen with a record of prioritizing women’s issues in their politics. But while men have been key participants in much of the progress made by the Women’s Caucus, that’s just not the same thing as women actually being represented by women.

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“The fact is that women — as mothers, as daughters, as grandmothers, as sisters — bring a different perspective to issues and problems,” says Representative Lois Frankel. “And that diversity is necessary to really create laws and policies that reflect the people we’re trying to represent.”

Brooks agrees. “We do very much appreciate, and continue to support, the men who, on both sides of the aisle, have stepped up and have led on legislation for health issues, childcare issues, sexual harassment issues,” she says. “But what women bring to the table is their perspectives: having been a girl going through school, having been a young woman entering into workplaces, what it’s like maybe to start a women-owned business, and how difficult sometimes it can be to be recognized.”

[rebelmouse-image 19397667 dam="1" original_size="750x491" caption="A Women's Caucus Breakfast in Indianapolis, Maryland. Image via Maryland GovPics/Flickr." expand=1]A Women's Caucus Breakfast in Indianapolis, Maryland. Image via Maryland GovPics/Flickr.

Of course, women are also well-suited to accomplish more than just progress on “women’s issues.”

“Women excel in all areas, and not just women’s issues,” says Rep. Frankel. “It’s so important to have women’s perspective and experience on every single issue.”

Rep. Brooks agrees. “I do believe that, with more women in Congress, we may be able to come together on more issues,” she says. “I would love to think that if we had more women involved in the discussions that we could even maybe resolve some of the thorniest problems facing the country — like immigration reform.

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While there are more women entering politics, the job is not done quite yet.

“We’re getting there far too slowly,” says Rep. Brooks. Currently women represent about 20% of the government, from Congress to the state legislative bodies.

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“We have to encourage women to consider running,” she says. “Women often need to be asked to run, rather than raise their hand and run on their own.” It’s a documented phenomenon and a classic case of unmatched self-confidence across genders — even between candidates who might be equally qualified.

“They say a man gets out of bed, looks in the mirror, and says ‘I can be President,’ whereas a woman you have to ask [her] ten times,” she laughs.

That's why the uptick in women running this year is so important.

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As protections for women, families, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and many other vulnerable communities were slashed this year, women — from all points on the political spectrum — are finally showing up, ready to run.

It would seem that, for now at least, the male-dominant status quo is no longer.

“Not this cycle,” says Rep. Frankel. “Not at all. They are being energized.”

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

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Tired of avocados turning brown? Try this simple trick.

Ah, the delicious, creamy avocado. We love it, despite its fleeting ripeness and frustrating tendency to turn brown when you try to store it. From salads to guacamole to much-memed millennial avocado toast, the weird berry (that's right—it's a berry) with the signature green flesh is one of the more versatile fruits, but also one of the more fickle. Once an avocado is ready, you better cut it open within hours because it's not going to last.

Once it's cut, an avocado starts to oxidize, turning that green flesh a sickly brown color. It's not harmful to eat, but it's not particularly appetizing. The key to keeping the browning from happening is to keep the flesh from being exposed to oxygen.

Some people rub an unused avocado half with oil to keep oxidation at bay. Others swear by squeezing some lemon juice over it. Some say placing plastic wrap tightly over it with the pit still in it will keep it green.

But a YouTube video from Avocados from Mexico demonstrates a quick, easy, eco-friendly way to store half an avocado that doesn't require anything but a container and some water.

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