Nigeria made history by banning female genital mutilation, but there's still one thing in the way.

A celebration is in order, but don't get too comfy yet.

It's huge news! Female genital mutilation has been banned in Nigeria.

The horrific practice of FGM is now officially forbidden in Africa's most populous country, thanks to outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Jonathan went out on a high note when he signed the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) act into law on May 25, 2015, which bans female genital mutilation in Nigeria and forbids men from leaving their families without providing financial support.


Yes and yes. Double victory.

Thank you for standing up for women and girls, Goodluck Jonathan! Photo by Remy Steinegger.

Nigeria is setting a precedent for other African countries — and the world — that FGM needs to stop.

More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 African and Middle Eastern countries where FGM takes place.

125 MILLION! GIF via Sesame Street.

But if the most populous country in Africa is saying "no more," that's a clear sign to other countries to stop this violence against women and girls.

Will the law be enough to stop the practice?

The answer is essentially: no.

Outlawing a practice is often the first step toward making it culturally unacceptable (or acceptable, depending on what it is). Laws are super important, but the practice of FGM is so ingrained within many cultures that the attitudes around it need to change first.

It may be difficult for families to abandon the practice without support from the wider community. In fact, it is often practiced even when it is known to inflict harm upon girls because the perceived social benefits of the practice are deemed higher than its disadvantages (World Health Organization, 2008).

It'll be hard work, but community organizations and activists on the ground in Nigeria are ready to get started.




As people immigrate to the U.S. and U.K., FGM has become a problem in places you wouldn't necessarily expect.
Photo by Amnon Shavit.

One way to keep the momentum going and get FGM outlawed everywhere? Talk about it.

If just hearing about female genital mutilation makes you uncomfortable, that's exactly why it needs to be talked about. Imagine what the women and girls who have experienced it have gone through!

Consider educating yourself with this handy FAQ from the United Nations Population Fund and this amazing media campaign from The Guardian, or show your support to organizations that are actively working to end FGM around the world. There's also this video of two women with cupcakes that's extremely creative (and disturbing). Just trust me on that one.

This is a situation where changing attitudes can change the world. Be a part of it (if you want!).

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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