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They Almost Had To Abandon Making A Film That Would Be Wonderful For Women's Rights. Almost.

This post serves as a thank you. A big HUGE thank you from the people who are working on the documentary "Equal Means Equal," whose New York shoot was funded thanks to the help of Upworthians like you.

They Almost Had To Abandon Making A Film That Would Be Wonderful For Women's Rights. Almost.

"What I want to know — the central question of this film, in fact — is how much of our stories are shaped by this fundamental, and yet generally invisible, legal bias?


Many will claim that a Constitutional Amendment is not a panacea for the litany of ills that women face ... and yet the potential for it to be truly transformative across the board cannot be denied.

We need the law on our side. I believe this more than ever after this shoot."

— Kamala Lopez, director of "Equal Means Equal"

We here at Upworthy are so happy we can help facilitate a positive social change in any way we can. Take a look below at the great video created for the Kickstarter, whose goal was $87,011 to help film the many segments that deal with this important issue:

After the Upworthy post, they met their goal — and then some. The total raised was a whopping $136,933, almost $50,000 more than their goal.

So what have Creator, Producer, and Director Kamala Lopez and the rest of the film crew been up to since their Kickstarter was funded?

Sarah Anderson and Jendra Jarnagin film Jezebel and Salon writer Amanda Marcotte and Kamala Lopez in New York.

Since the Kickstarter wrapped, the "Equal Means Equal" crew was able to film several segments in New York City, including interviews with global women's rights advocates like Lakshmi Puri, an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, as well as feminist lawyers, authors, reproductive rights activists, and filmmakers — including Helen Benedict, the writer whose work inspired the Film Independent Spirit Award winner "The Invisible War."

Producer and co-writer Gini Sikes

They've also met with domestic violence advocates. Here's a quote from producer and co-writer of "Equal Means Equal" Gini Sikes:

Years ago, after a slew of movies about homicidal women with an axe to grind had just come out, a magazine assigned me to find out whether women were becoming more violent. In a California women's prison I learned that in one irreversible moment many of them had fought back against a vicious partner with fatal consequences. They'd formed the first support group for battered women in the nation and were working to change law. When I reported that female violence wasn't on the rise but women were imprisoned for defending themselves against their abusers, the magazine deemed the story not sexy enough and killed it.

Last week I reunited with several former inmates when Kamala, myself and the "Equal Means Equal" crew filmed three remarkable women in a tiny apartment. [After Battered Woman Syndrome became a legal defense in California], they were paroled, thanks to the tireless efforts of legal advocates. Their stories were hard to hear but they let people know of the injustices still facing women, and that even with new laws, things haven't changed enough.

This time around, I can rest assured their message will get out. And for that, I am deeply grateful to Upworthy for putting Equal Means Equal on the map!

The members of Convicted Women Against Abuse, with Kamala Lopez and Gini Sikes. From left: Crystal Wheeler, Leesha Gooseberry, Lopez, Cheryl Sellers, and Sikes.

So what are they up to now? As of March 2014, they're filming segments in California, and they mentioned an interview with Gloria Steinem is in the works. They still appreciate any assistance, so if you missed their Kickstarter the first time around, they still need money to complete their project! Feel free to make a donation to their project on Fractured Atlas.

Producer Liz Lopez with her daughter Kamala.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
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It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.
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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