Sweden is giving every 16-year-old a gift to help them understand feminism.

Sweden is making sure its teenagers understand what an equal world looks like.

The Swedish Women's Lobby, together with publishing company Albert Bonniers Förlag and the UN Association of Sweden, just announced that every high school sophomore will be given a gift: a copy of the book "We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

It's not your typical high school reading, but perhaps it should be. The gesture could greatly benefit Sweden's future — its health, economy, happiness, the whole shebang (yeah, she-bang seems about right). That's exactly why they're doing it.


Translated in Swedish, of course.

The 52-page book written by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an adaptation from the incredibly popular TED Talk she gave in 2013. Which, if you didn't see it, was so powerful that Beyoncé herself sampled it in the beginning of her song "Flawless."

Queen Bey and Adichie's real talk. GIF from "***Flawless."

(That's when you know you've made it.)

So far, 100,000 copies of the book have already been handed out, and many more are still to come.

In the book, Adichie explores the complexity of feminism, what it's like being a woman in today's world, and why we must think about the ways we treat each other in order to live in a fully productive society.

Adichie at the Girls Write Now Awards. Image by Janette Pellegrini/Getty Images.

"Our hope is that the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie text will open up a conversation about gender and gender roles, starting from young people's own experiences," said Albert Bonnier publisher Johanna Haegerström at the press conference.

You won't find any preachy, "blah, blah, blah" moments in the book. It's personal, easy to digest from all backgrounds, and a sensible call to action. And it's short! With only 52 pages, it goes by fast, but its words are quick to strike a cord with many.

It could be the most productive 52 pages a teenager (or anyone) reads all year.

In a time where some still cringe at use of the word "feminism," and famous feminists get asked not to use the word in speeches ON the topic of feminism, it's clear that we're not all on the same page ... yet.

But when it comes down to it, the majority of people agree: Women and men should be treated equally. That's the entire basis of feminism.

Sweden is already considered one of the best countries to be a woman through its health and education outcomes. Now, if every 16-year-old girl (and even if every 16-year-old boy) were given a copy of Adichi's book, who knows? Sweden could see gender parity in the next generation or two.

Props to Sweden on grabbing the word "feminism" and holding it up for the rest of the world to see with pride.

With open minds and better understanding, countries that embrace women's and men's equal rights are much better suited to succeed than those that don't.

Sweden is on the right side of history.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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