There’s a community in Ethiopia where everyone lives as equals. And it works.
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Imagine a place where men and women are treated completely equally.

They share duties as co-heads of a household. Work duties and interests are not determined by gender, but by ability. The community works together, generating enough income to fulfill its needs and splitting the profits equally among all members. Contraception is available to women who want it.

A young woman in Awra Amba. All photos via the creative agency Write This Down, used with permission.


And it gets even better: Children go to school from the age of 3. Both boys and girls. They get the chance to be kids. Once they’re 18, they’re free to decide what they want to do with their lives. The minimum age for marriage is 19 for women and 20 for men. Women feel no shame proposing to men because there’s no invisible power structure to adhere to. The social standard is equality.

It might sound too good to be true — but it isn’t.

For over 40 years, Awra Amba has functioned as a small, egalitarian community in Ethiopia. There are around 500 community members who wake up each day with a simple mission: to work hard and treat each other fairly and as equals.

It all started with one man: Zumra Nuru. Nuru grew up in a small village in Ethiopia. He saw that inequality was baked into a lot of the traditions. Like the accepted norm in many Western countries, women in the village he lived in were expected to be both providers and caretakers. They worked during the day and tended to the house and the children at night. The same wasn’t expected of men.

A smiling little boy in Awra Amba.

It didn’t feel right. So he started to ask questions.

In an interview with filmmakers Paulina Tervo and Serdar Ferit, Nuru recalls asking, "Why is there a difference between them? Women are like servants; men are like masters. When I questioned this, my family would say, 'You want to be different from others.'" It wasn’t a compliment, but he felt confident that men and women could and should live as equals.

Nuru founded a community called Awra Amba where equality is the norm.

Initially, he was met with resistance. Like Nuru’s family, many of Awra Amba’s neighbors were skeptical of the community. They misunderstood Awra Amba’s way of life. But when faced with violent opposition, the Awra Ambans have reacted by extending their hands in peace.

They’ve built schoolhouses and encourage the kids from surrounding villages to attend because they believe that education is power. They engage in dialogue with their neighbors to teach them about the Awra Amban way of life to reduce fear and encourage understanding.

Image of a schoolhouse built by the Awra Amba community.

And the women who move to Awra Amba appreciate the chance to take the reigns in their own lives. Zeinab, a woman who lives in the village, told the filmmakers, "Before I came to Awra Amba, I was uneducated and oppressed. I didn't know about my rights. In our time, there was nothing called 'men's and women's rights.' Men oppressed women. They were superior to us."  For many years, she ran the teahouse in the village, and with her support, her adult daughter joined the Awra Amba community. They are in control of their own fate.

The Awra Ambans have also worked hard to become self-sustaining and have been successful at it — they do not accept food aid from organizations. They do accept financial support for projects, like a mill, which helps them and their neighbors to be increasingly self-sufficient. No one has more than any other person. They all work hard, and they all reap the rewards. As their way of life has proven successful, they’ve become a model for neighboring villages.

Tervo, the filmmaker, first traveled to Awra Amba in 2004. It was an experience she couldn’t forget.

She returned home and told fellow filmmaker Ferit, her boyfriend at the time, that they had to return and make a documentary about the people. Little did they know that helping Awra Amba to tell its story would becoming such a big part of their lives.

Tervo and Ferit with Nuru and other members of the Awra Amba community.

Over the years, they’ve seen the community evolve rapidly, and they say that the egalitarian principles on which it’s founded have only strengthened with each generation. And most importantly, they’ve helped the Awra Amban people to use own their voice and tell their story.

They plan to launch "The Awra Amba Experience" soon; it's an interactive documentary that allows viewers to get a look inside the village and hear from community members themselves. Tervo explains that this project "basically started from the desire of the community to speak to the outside world ... they wanted to tell their story."

Here’s a sneak peek:

Awra Amba is an incredible example of what can happen when we all champion each other.

As we in the Western world continue to work to ensure that women aren’t limited by assumptions about gender, are paid as much as men, and allowed to take control of their own bodies, it’s neat to be reminded that this massive goal is possible.

The glass ceiling can be shattered. And there’s a village in Ethiopia that can help show us the way.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.