Some people say that while change is inevitable, progress is a choice. In other words, it’s a purposeful act—like when American media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner established the United Nations Foundation 25 years ago.
Turner recognized that the United Nations is indispensable to tackling humanity’s greatest challenges and driving global progress, and he also knew that solving complex, worldwide problems require a blend of diverse solutions and partners. He’s a pretty smart guy.
As a strategic partner of the United Nations, the UN Foundation seeks to solve the world’s biggest challenges by bringing together different perspectives, fresh thinking, and innovative ideas. Think of it as a massive table, where the best and the brightest from all over the world are invited to bring new and creative ideas to solve complex problems affecting humanity. That’s the UN Foundation, and it’s awesome.
Honorees, speakers and guests on stage at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Every year, the organization recognizes extraordinary individuals and institutions whose work stands out as an embodiment of their guiding principles: to create a safer, healthier, and fairer world for all. This year’s annual Global Leadership Awards were presented at We the Peoples in New York City’s Gotham Hall, where five recipients were honored for their tireless work to push progress forward.
Here are the change-makers who accepted the awards, which celebrate the very best of humanity.
Mia Amor Mottley, 2022 Champion for Global Change award. Not only is she the first female to hold the position of Prime Minister of Barbados, she exhibits top-notch leadership in her fight for global change. She is known for fearlessly urging the leaders of larger, richer, and more powerful countries to recognize their contributions to climate change and their responsibility to help combat its disastrous effects—especially in smaller island nations. (She also encourages leaders to have “mature conversations” with their constituents, something we can all agree is woefully lacking across the board!)
Hon. Mia Mottley, SC, MP, Prime Minister of BarbadosPhoto: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Prime Minister Mottley takes stewardship of the environment very seriously. The island of Barbados is on the frontline of climate change impacts, which manifest in everything from more devastating hurricanes, to coastal erosion, and are getting worsefrom year to year. Not only that, she’s tackling social justice reform, lack of education access, and political corruption, one step at a time. “There are so many who are voiceless and so many who are incapable of action, but if those of us who have the capacity can make that difference in their lives, then the world would be a better place,” said Prime Minister Mottley. Seriously.
Forest Whitaker, SDG Vanguard Award: While Whitaker is best known for his acting roles, he is also Founder & CEO of Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, a project aiming to promote the values of peace within communities all over the world that are impacted by conflict and violence. His work has touched the lives of approximately 1.3 million children—including former child soldiers—helping them cope with trauma and learn to thrive in their communities. The goal is to move people from chaos to hope and engagement by educating, training, and restoring peace.
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon and UN Foundation Board member, presents the SDG Vanguard Award to Khadija Mayman, Youth PeacemakerPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Whitaker staunchly values the potential of youth, insisting they deserve a seat at the table. He believes that in order to attain peace and prosperity, communities and nations must heed the voices of their young people; keeping them engaged is what preserves our future. “We must realize that whatever challenge we are faced with, young people can and should be part of the solution – both for today and tomorrow,” he said.
Whitaker walks the walk— and it showed when the spotlight was put on Khadija Mayman, Youth Peacemaker for the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, who accepted the award on his behalf. What better way to change the world, than to start by healing our children and letting them lead?
Mia Kami, SDG Vanguard Award: Kami is a Tongan singer/songwriter. She is passionate about gender equality, indigenous rights, and climate action, reminding us that storytelling has the power to fuel political and environmental change. She channels her passions into songwriting and uses her music to inspire hope and healing.
In 2022, a devastating volcanic eruption created a massive humanitarian crisis in her home country of Tonga. The volcano generated a plume of ash that rose more than 12 miles above sea level; the next day, there was a larger, more violent eruption that created an ash plume 375 miles in diameter. This second explosive eruption produced a tsunami that affected the entire Pacific Ocean, and atmospheric pressure waves that circled Earth several times. After the eruption, satellite images show that 90% of the island is no longer visible. Kami drew attention to the crisis through song. In one of her most popular works, Rooted, she sings:
There is hope
There is strength
There is power
There is change
In you and I
Singer-songwriter Mia Kami performs at We The Peoples 2022Photo: Stuart Ramson for United Nations Foundation
Kami’s ability to bridge art and action to protect the world's oceans draws attention to issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, marking her as an extraordinary, creative change-maker.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), presented with the 2022 UN Heroes Award: Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepted the Award on behalf of the organization.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNFPA, accepts the 2022 UN Heroes Award, presented by Mark Malloch-Brown, President of Open Society Foundations and UN Foundation Board member at We the PeoplesPhoto: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Founded in 1969 by concerned American citizens, this institution is the lead United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency. They are there for mothers, pregnant women, and girls around the world, no matter what, and their work encompasses everything from educating women on family planning to working to end child marriage and gender-based violence—especially in times of war.
UNFPA delivers lifesaving care in places in crises so that girls and women can manage their periods, have healthy pregnancies, and deliver their babies safely. They recognize that when individuals are deprived of the right to make crucial choices about their own bodies and futures, it has a cascading impact on their families’ welfare and future generations.
Unsurprisingly, courage is one of their four core values; they pride themselves on saying and doing what’s right, not what’s easy, all the time. That is a purposeful act of progress for certain.
Peace on Purpose/lululemon. This year, the inaugural Goal 17 Innovation in Partnership Award was presented to recognize creative, cross-sector partnerships that are driving progress forward. Most of us associate the brand name lululemon with leggings, but it turns out that they do much more than sell athletic wear. Peace on Purpose is a collaborative effort between lululemon and the UN Foundation to provide tools, such as mindfulness training, for humanitarian workers to care for their mental and physical well-being so they can effectively care for others. Support people need support people, after all!
From left to right: Baroness Valerie Amos, Master, University College Oxford and Vice Chair, UN Foundation Board of Directors; Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon; Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
The award was accepted by two of lululemon's leaders: Esther Speck, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business & Impact, and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer. Speck is widely respected among her colleagues as one of the most result-oriented professionals in sustainability. She managed to bridge lululemon and the UN Foundation seamlessly by recognizing that lululemon focuses on offering their customers a path to wellbeing, which entails supporting humanitarian and sustainable causes.
Esther Speck, Senior Vice President Sustainable Business & Impact at lululemon and Nikki Neuburger, Chief Brand Officer, lululemon.Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation
Neuburger is responsible for lululemon's ability to share compelling stories from their team of 2,000 global ambassadors. "We really lean into highlighting those ambassadors," said Neuburger in an interview with Ad Age, "lifting them up not only in terms of what they are doing with us, but also what they've got going on in their own communities."
The results are undeniable: over 8,000 UN workers from 137 countries have been reached through in-person and digital mental health and well-being programs! Research shows that the Peace on Purpose initiative has so far led to a 40% reduction of important psychological risk factors such as anxiety and depression, and an increase in overall well-being and resilience.
It’s a dynamic table of visionaries, that’s for sure—and the world is better because of them. As Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation stated at the ceremony, “A few years ago, Ted [Turner] said: ‘The world is facing some tough obstacles, but I’ve never found much use in giving up. It’s much more effective to get to work.’ Well, at the UN Foundation, we believe in getting to work. We believe that allies and partners make us stronger. We believe that progress is worth fighting for, and we know you do too.”If pushing progress forward is a choice, then these change-makers make the right one, every single day. Learn more about these change-makers and the work they are doing here.
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Thor knew exactly how to handle it.
This article originally appeared on 08.27.18
In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.
In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.
"My daughter's kind of envious of my boys," Hemsworth told Ellen. "She came to me the other day, and she's like 'You know, Papa, I want one of those things that Sasha and Tristan have.' And I'm like, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'You know the things in between their legs that you have.'"
Hemsworth said he tried to explain the differences between male and female bodies, but his daughter wasn't having it.
"She goes, 'I really want one!' Hemsworth said. "I'm like, 'A penis?' And she's like, 'I want a penis!'
And then, Hemsworth had the best possible response. He recalls:
She's four and I'm like, 'You know what, you can be whatever you want to be.' And she goes, 'Thanks, Dad.' Runs off into the playground and that was it.
And then, I cannot confirm, but I'm pretty sure the Ellen audience did this:
Major kudos to Hemsworth for taking a potentially awkward parenting situation and turning it into a lesson about love and acceptance.
You can watch the full clip here:
Innovation is awesome, right? I mean, it gave us the internet!
However, there is always a price to pay for modernization, and in this case, it’s in the form of digital eye strain, a group of vision problems that can pop up after as little as two hours of looking at a screen. Some of the symptoms are tired and/or dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, and neck and shoulder pain1. Ouch!
Eye strain from staring at devices is a widespread issue. Most people work, play, and maintain relationships through screens, which averages out to 6 hours and 35 minutes per day (and that’s in addition to work or school)! That translates to 46 hours and 5 minutes per week, or 2,402 hours and 55 minutes per year.2
With numbers like these, attention to eye health is more important now than ever; our dependence on technology certainly isn’t going anywhere. And just like innovation brought us technology, innovation also holds the key to combating the effects it has on our bodies. Here are some key suggestions from eye care professionals to help reduce common symptoms of digital eye strain. Spoiler alert: none of them involve wearing glasses!
Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
You can find some relief by taking a 20-20-20 break: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It’s easy to remember because we all want 20/20 vision, and it’s a good excuse to look out the window.
Adjust your workspace screen to be slightly below eye level and about an arm’s length away.
This simple tweak to your work area can really improve your posture, as well as the amount of strain on your eyes. A win-win!
Adjust the brightness of your device.
Brightness levels also play into how hard our eyes have to work. Our screen brightness should match our surroundings, especially during the evening hours.
Say hello to Biofinity Energys® contact lenses!
These contact lenses are specifically made to address eye dryness and tiredness caused by digital devices. Digital Zone Optics® lens design and Aquaform® Technology are two innovations that when combined help with the tiredness and dryness that can be caused by digital eye fatigue.
Additionally, Biofinity Energys® monthly replacement contact lenses are designed to help our eyes better adapt for a more comfortable wearing experience3. This part is tricky because contacts can be hard to adjust to, and trust me—no one wants what feels like gritty sandpaper in there. Comfort is key!
If you’re sick of wearing glasses all the time and feel ready to do something new, visit biofinityenergys.com to learn more and to get your free trial certificate.
- Asurion-sponsored survey by Market Research Firm Solidea Solutions conducted August 18-20, 2019 of 1,998 U.S. smartphone users, compared to an Asurion-sponsored survey conducted by market research company OnePoll between Sept. 11 – 19, 2017 of 2000 U.S. adults with a smartphone.
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No woman should be forced to use the men's restroom, and no man should be forced to use the women's.
This article originally appeared on 03.31.15
This is a man named Michael Hughes.
Why is he in a women's restroom?
Michael is protesting a series of bills across the U.S. and Canada that, if passed, would ban men like him from using men's restrooms and leave him no choice but to use the women's room.
Bizarrely, these laws have been proposed as a way to protect the privacy and safety of women.(I know. It doesn't make sense, but hang with me.)
Michael is a transgender man, meaning that when he was born, the doctor looked at him and labeled him a girl.
As Michael can tell you, he's not a girl and he's not a woman.
Inspired by a woman from Canada, Michael has been snapping selfies in women's restrooms to show people just how out of place he looks.
Michael Hughes advocates for Transgender freedoms and rights.
Photo pulled from YouTube video
If these types of bills become law, people like Michael and other trans men would be forced to use women's restrooms.
Is this the type of guy you want in your restrooms and locker rooms, ladies?
Several states have proposed laws legalizing discrimination against transgender people this year alone.
The main focus of these bills has been whether trans people should be allowed to use public restrooms, though they're often part of a larger effort to deny rights to trans people.
Texas' bill would have denied trans people entrance to public restrooms, showers, or changing rooms.
The penalty for using a restroom that doesn't match the gender "established by the individual's chromosomes" is up to a year in prison and a fine up to $4,000.
Even worse, the bill stated that an "operator, manager, superintendent, or other person with authority over a building" who willfully allows a trans person to use restrooms that match their actual gender will be charged with a felony and could serve a minimum of 180 days in prison and be fined up to $10,000.
The bill remains in committee awaiting action.
Florida's language would have established gender as one's "biological sex, either male or female, at birth."
The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Frank Artiles, brushed off backlash by arguing that going to the bathroom is a choice.
The punishment for a trans person who uses the correct bathroom in Florida would have been up to a year in prison and a fine up to $1,000. The bill died in committee, and did not become law.
Kentucky's bill would have denied trans students the ability to use the correct restroom.
The bill came in response to a Louisville school's decision to allow a trans student to use the restroom that matches their gender.
While the bill didn't specify punishment for using the "incorrect" restroom, it did put what some are calling a "bounty" on catching trans students in the "wrong" restroom. The bill did not become law.
The groups pushing to deny trans people the ability to use restrooms simply spread misinformation.
Opponents of trans-inclusive environments argue that allowing trans people to use restrooms that match their gender invites and allows men into women's restrooms to leer and assault women at will.
Their arguments aren't based in reality.
(Still with me? The laws are pretty ridiculous, but now you know why they're being proposed.)
It's just as ridiculous for a trans woman to have to use the men's restroom as it is for Michael to have to use the women's restroom.
Trans women are not men, and Michael is not a woman.
When it comes down to it, trans people just need to pee. That's all.
Watch Michael Hughes' appearance on MSNBC's "Out There" with Thomas Roberts below:
Some songs literally change lives.
Anyone who was a teen in the '90s will remember the grunge era. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were topping the charts with their gravely metaphorical lyrics, but they weren't alone. Soul Asylum burst onto the scene with their solemn anthem "Runaway Train" complete with a video that showcased missing kids.
The video gave missing and exploited children a much bigger platform to be recognized on, because before the video was showcased on MTV, milk cartons were the common method to distribute these photos. In theory, milk cartons seem like a pretty effective way to highlight missing children, but in reality, eventually people would become blind to the photos.
The music video for "Runaway Train" was played all around the world and to the target audience that would most likely recognize the faces. It should come as no surprise, then, that the video helped to bring home 21 missing children. What is surprising, is that the band had to push to keep the pictures of the missing kids in the music video because people didn't think it was working.
David Pirner, the band's lead singer, explained to The Guardian that the song was a metaphor for his depression and the line "call you up in the middle of the night" was actually about a friend that would answer his late-night calls no matter what time. He told the outlet that he had a fascination with trains from a young age, so he used the imagery of a runaway train as a metaphor for when his depression was out of control. As cliches would have it, the rest is history.
Well, that is, of course, until you realize that the song did more than give moody teens an anthem for their feelings. It actually brought them home.
When I watched the music video as a young teen, the gravity of the photos that flashed across my screen didn't truly sink in. What Soul Asylum did in 1993 was the epitome of using your platform for a good cause and unbeknown to young teens like myself, it saved actual lives.
The producer, Tony Kaye, got the idea to put missing children in the video after seeing a billboard of a milk carton that displayed the face of a missing child. He told The Guardian that The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children sent them photos of the missing kids they wanted highlighted in the video and at the end of the video the text would instruct viewers to call a number if they had seen the children featured.
But the record company was fully prepared to pull the plug because it didn't seem to be working. Kaye insisted on leaving the photos and before too long, the tactic started working. Child after child was returning home and when one was found, they'd replace the photo with a different child. They told The Guardian that 21 of the 36 kids featured were returned home.
Missing children on milk cartons.
That definitely seems like something to brag about and with the group's 30-year anniversary album release and their upcoming tour, it's something to highlight and attempt to repeat. In 2019, a different artist recorded their version of "Runaway Train" in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in hopes of bringing more missing children home using updated technology. The song is powerful on its own but coupling it with helping to locate missing and exploited children, elevates it to another level.
If you're itching for a grunge fix like me, go reacquaint yourself with Soul Asylum's songs and go catch them on tour with Everclear. The tour starts November 5 in Carrollton, Texas.
Amy Poehler is a fountain of wisdom.
This article originally appeared on 05.30.15
Men struggle to comprehend the pressures women feel. The same is true of women!
Gah! We'll never get along.
This conversation between comedian Neal Brennan and Amy Poehler is a pretty good example of how hard it can be to figure life out sometimes.
Neal, the genius who co-created "Chappelle's Show," sat down with Amy for his show "The Approval Matrix." The topic? WHAT are men supposed to be now? Cool? Adorkable? Both? Neither?
It's maddening, dealing with constantly opposing messages about how to be and how to act.
And Amy, in all her hospitable magical greatness, is straight-up like, "Yeah, bro, welcome to the party! We've been here a looong time."
"This feeling that you're having right now — which it's like, 'I have to be all things,' — it's a feeling that women have everyday in their whole lives. So you're just starting to experience it now. ... I'm glad you're finally experiencing it as a white male."
Yass, queen! A magical combo of speaking your truth and inviting your friends to the party. That sounds like Amy.
And she follows her own advice.
"If you can speak about what you care about to a person you disagree with, without denigrating them or insulting them, then you may actually be heard."
Living up to arbitrary and impossible standards is nothing new, but now that we're all in the same boat ... let's rock the boat! Together!
Ladies and dudes, rocking the boat together. I like that.