Remarkable new document unveiled to the UN arguing for girls' fundamental rights
Rene Moses Ceesay

A remarkable new document will be unveiled to the U.N. today to coincide with International Day of the Girl.

The document wasn't written by professionals. It wasn't cooked up by politicians or commandeered by parents or think tanks; It was written by girls. A thousand girls, to be precise, aged 13 to 22, from myriad ethic and cultural backgrounds, nearly 40 countries and five languages. Girls like India's Vishahka Agrawal, who confesses, "I have seen girls marriages happen before my own eyes. Harmful cultural practices that have been [around] so long they're almost considered accepted." Or Djellza Pulatani, of the U.S. and Kosovo, who shared, "Coming from a patriarchal culture, I have seen and been a direct victim of women's oppression." These young women have peered deep into the dizzying morass of gender-based injustice and teased out a possible antidote.

A Global Girls' Bill of Rights.


"For too long, the world has talked about what girls need and want, without ever asking them," says Christen Brandt, co-founder of the award-winning non-profit organization, She's the First. And therein lies the irony: even those with honorable intentions are in a sense undermining girls if they speak for them. Because to speak for girls, in effect, silences them, perpetuating the very problem those well-meaning advocates hope to fix.

And what do we mean when we say "the world?" Considering most of the world's nations have never had a female leader, and when women do come into power, they rarely hold it for long, "the world" is really another way of saying, well, men.

Olivia Lombardo, a 16-year-old activist speaking on the panel, admits, "in my own dealing with female empowerment groups, we find ourselves habitually thanking the men in the room for wanting equality. Not only should men be included in the conversation, but they must also learn. They must listen to the women around them because, for too long, systems of oppression have disenfranchised women's voices."

Lara Santos, a young Brazilian advocate for gender equality in Latin America, concurs: "Men are represented in decision-making, young boys can see themselves in positions of power all the time, but girls don't."

So, along with the Kenya-based leadership incubator, Akili Dada, and the Mayan Girl advocacy organization, MAIA, She's The First created a platform for girls to weigh in on their own needs: a website where they could submit the rights most important to them, expressed in their own words. The following is what it all boils down to — a list of ten unalienable rights for girls:

  1. A free, quality education which prepares girls for the modern world.
  2. Equality.
  3. Involvement in decision-making and pursuit of leadership positions without fear of discrimination, harassment, or persecution.
  4. Documentation.
  5. Comprehensive sexual education and access to free, quality healthcare.
  6. Protection from harmful traditions and enjoyment of positive cultural practices.
  7. Safety from all forms of violence.
  8. Decision-making about their body and sexuality.
  9. Protection under the law without fear of unequal treatment.
  10. Freedom from exploitation.

What are they hoping to achieve by presenting these ten unalienable rights to the U.N.? "I wish for them not only to listen," says Pulatani, "but to execute the rights we present… [to] create a 'splash' that leads to a movement." Deborah Soler, of Puerto Rico, believes it sends a crucial message of solidarity and hope — a flare in the dark for oppressed girls around the world: "Ustedes no están solas," she says. "You are not alone."

If you would like to add your voice to theirs, express support, or merely signal your readiness to listen, you can co-sign the Global Girls' Bill of rights by amplifying it on social media. Adults can make a public pledge: "I support girls on the decisions that affect their lives. #GirlsBillofRights." Girls can co-sign the Bill by sharing: "Girls just want to have fundamental rights. These are mine. Read them, respect them. #GirlsBillofRights."

But, of course, these are just suggestions. Because according to Right No. 3: all girls are free to decide for themselves.

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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.

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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.