Want to help women and girls in Afghanistan? Here are two simple places to start.

In October 2019, I sat at a table in Jakarta interviewing a young Afghan woman about the plight of refugee women in Indonesia. Her family had fled the Taliban when she was a child, and now she's stuck in a life of limbo in Jakarta with little hope of change.

By practically every measure our lives are nothing alike, yet I felt connected to her immediately. She was brilliant and eloquent (in English, no less), with a keen passion for justice and equality.

But mostly she was just so fully and beautifully human. The only real difference between us was that I was born inside certain man-made borders and she inside different ones. Neither of us chose our life circumstances. The happenstance of my birth did not make me more deserving of the freedom and privileges that lay unjustly out of her reach.


When we hugged goodbye, I wished I could take her back to the U.S. with me. I lamented that the Trump administration had slashed our refugee admissions ceiling to historic lows and thought of the countless women like her, overflowing with potential that might never be realized because of where they were born and the rules out of their control.

Her face flashed before my eyes as the news of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan after U.S. military withdrawal broke. Women and girls like her will surely bear the brunt of the fallout. We're already seeing heartbreaking stories of women burning the diplomas and degrees they have earned, fearing a life of extremist oppression, watching their hopes and dreams destroyed overnight. There were already Afghan refugees scattered in camps and stopover countries throughout the world, waiting for a chance to build a life for themselves—and now there will be thousands more.

Women and girls have always paid a high price in men's wars, but rarely is the price as visible as it is in Afghanistan. We know what Taliban rule means for women and girls there and we can't in good conscience just walk away and do nothing to help them.

If you feel compelled to do something, here are a few options:

1) For help on the ground right now, consider donating to organizations that have a strong track record of helping Afghan women and girls.

- Women for Women International is a non-profit organization that provides aid and support to women in war-torn countries. Women for Women has long had a presence in Afghanistan and their Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program has proven to have a significant impact in the country. A donor has promised to match up to $500,000 for the emergency aid fund in response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding there. Learn more and donate here.

- Women for Afghan Women is a grassroots civil society organization that "works to help Afghan women and girls exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination, and to representation in all areas of life—political, social, cultural, and economic." With offices in Afghanistan and New York, they assist disenfranchised Afghan women both in Afghanistan and the U.S. Learn more and donate here.

2) For help in the long run, ask the U.S. government to increase the refugee ceiling back to historic norms at minimum.

While the Biden administration increased the number of refugees the U.S. would accept this year from 15,000 to 65,000, that's still far lower than the numbers the U.S. has historically welcomed. (To be clear, the refugee resettlement program is separate from the asylum-seeking we see at the southern border.) Refugees are the most vetted group of people to enter the U.S., they are statistically more likely to start businesses than native-born residents and other immigrants, they overall have a positive impact on the economy, and logic would tell us that displaced people are likely to be grateful and loyal to a country that offers them safe haven and opportunity. Refugee resettlement is good for the U.S. in addition to being the right thing to do.

Sign the International Rescue Committee petition to raise the refugee ceiling here.

Let's add our financial resources and civic voices to our thoughts and prayers for the women and girls of Afghanistan, as well as all of those facing oppression under the Taliban regime. While pundits play political football over who is to blame for the mess, let's put our focus on helping those who are most impacted by it.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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