Taiwan just elected its first female president, and she's a total badass.
True
Gates Foundation

​This is Tsai Ing-wen, the newly elected president of Taiwan.

Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images.

Next to Holly Holm, Tsai might be the most badass woman on the planet right now. 


Why?

1. She's the first of her kind.

This might come as a shock to you, but Taiwan has never elected a woman to presidential office before. In fact, you’d have to travel back to the end of the Qing Dynasty to find the last woman who held power during an era there: Empress Dowager Longyu, who abdicated the throne back in 1912. While Taiwan’s status as a country might be a source of great contention — it operates completely independent of China but is recognized as a “sovereign state” by many — Tsai’s win makes her one of around two dozen or so female world leaders currently holding office. 

Out of nearly 200 countries. 

GIF via "Star Trek."

2. No, seriously, she’s the first.

Aside from being Taiwan’s first ever female president, Tsai is also the first unmarried president to hold office in the country’s history as well as the first person to receive the title without previously having held an elected post of any kind. I can’t even begin to convey how unprecedented that is: It’s like if a former real estate mogul-turned-reality-show-star ran for president in America and actually won!

3. She is a completely self-made woman.

Unlike South Korea's current president, Park Guen Hye, whose father was president of the country from 1962 until his assassination in 1979, Tsai had no familial ties to any of Taiwan’s political parties before deciding to run for president. She had no man’s footsteps to follow in, which makes her ascension to the highest office all the more incredible. 

Instead, she’s the daughter of an automobile repairman and the last of his four wives. Tsai was, in fact, discouraged from pursuing her political aspirations early and often throughout her childhood.

4. She ain’t no slouch, either, though.

A brief list of Tsai's credentials:

  • Master of laws recipient, Cornell University Law School
  • Doctorate in law, London School of Economics
  • Former professor, School of Law at Soochow University and the National Chengchi University
  • Former chairperson, Fair Trade Commission
  • Former consultant, Mainland Affairs Council and National Security Council

A brief list of my credentials:

  • Voted "Most Talkative" in high school
  • Once hit a hole-in-one
  • Likes pizza

Tsai wins.

5. Also, she cleaned up a corrupt political party.

As if Tsai wasn’t facing enough obstacles on her road to the presidency, she also happened to be aligned with the Democratic Progressive Party, which was entrenched in scandal. 

Interestingly, Tsai became the trustworthy voice that the DPP needed in turbulent times, calling for the party to focus on its goal of defending Taiwan’s sovereignty as a nation while maintaining a peaceful relationship with mainland China. She was elected as the DPP’s chairperson in 2008 and vowed to rebuild the party’s confidence and defend social justice while continuing to push for Taiwan’s sovereignty.

6. She also bounced back from defeat.

In 2010, Tsai ran for mayor of New Taipei city in her native Taipei and was defeated by Eric Chu. Just two years later, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate, running against incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou. 

How did Tsai react to her defeats, you ask? Oh, only by writing a memoir, creating a bilingual website devoted to Taiwan affairs, and founding the Thinking Taiwan Foundation — an organization aimed at “acting as a catalyst for social action through participation” — while patiently waiting until the day she could announce her candidacy four years later. 

Again, for the sake of comparison, I went to the grocery store and the bank yesterday and needed a nap.

7. She won the presidency by a landslide.

With 99% of Taiwan’s voters reporting, Tsai defeated Eric Chu — yes, the very same Eric Chu — in an absolute sweep, securing 56% of the vote to Chu’s 31% and nearly twice as many total votes (6,894,744 to 3,813,365, respectively) in the process. Not since Kelly Clarkson defeated Justin Guarini to win the first "American Idol" has the democratic world seen such a one-sided butt-kicking. 

8. She’s a fierce negotiator.

At 59 years of age and with a reputation among her colleagues as naturally shy, Tsai isn’t exactly the most intimidating figure in politics at a first glance. She is, however, a force of nature at the negotiation table, having been compared to everyone from "The Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher to current German president Angela Merkel. 

“Before you attack or criticize her, she will have an answer ready before you even fire a bullet,” said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor and Tsai's first deputy.

9. She’s an LGBTQ rights activist.

In addition to Tsai’s promises to restore Taiwan’s struggling economy, she’s also a staunch activist for marriage equality, regularly posting videos of same-sex marriages to her social media accounts. Before her election, Tsai took to social media to voice her support for the gay pride festivities happening at the time. 

"In the face of love, everyone is equal. Let everyone have the freedom to love and to pursue their happiness. I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality," she said in a video posted on her Facebook page.

So not only is she attempting to broker a peace between her native sovereignty and China, but she’s also helping promote a greater global health through social policy as well? Bad. Ass.

10. She’s a wine-drinking cat lady like the rest of us.

As if you needed another reason to like her.

While owning a cat is not intrinsically badass, Tsai’s badassness has long been established, so by the transitive property of mathematics, her two cats, Tsai Hsiang Hsiang and Ah Tsai, are therefore the most badass cats on the planet. According to The Guardian, Tsai "very much enjoys sitting down with a glass of red wine, reading a book, and spending quality time" with those very cats.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of Taylor Swift announcing her run for president of the Unites States in 2020. 

GIF via Diet Coke.

So, to recap: Tsai Ing-wen is a trailblazing, self-made, tenacious-negotiating cat lady who promotes peace and supports everyone’s basic right to love freely. 

Sounds like a leader we could all get behind, does it not?

Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

Keep Reading Show less
Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

popular

When 59 children died on Christmas Eve 1913, the world cried with the town of Calumet, Michigan.

Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

True
AFL Labor Mini Series

A one-man drill operation

In July 1913, over 7,000 miners struck the C&H Copper Mining Company in Calumet, Michigan. It was largely the usual issues of people who worked for a big company during a time when capitalists ran roughshod over their workers — a time when monopolies were a way of life. Strikers' demands included pay raises, an end to child labor, and safer conditions including an end to one-man drill operations, as well as support beams in the mines (which mine owners didn't want because support beams were costly but miners killed in cave-ins “do not cost us anything.")

Keep Reading Show less

Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

"I hope I will be in other movies," he added. Then, the cutest—he pinched his own cheeks and asked, "Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream."

Keep Reading Show less