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Things are changing for the women of 'Game of Thrones' this season. Finally.

Who runs the Westeros world? GIRLS!WARNING: 'Game of Thrones' spoilers below.

Things are changing for the women of 'Game of Thrones' this season. Finally.

If you thought the big reveal of "Game of Thrones" season six was John Snow not being dead, you haven't been paying attention.

The real news this season is that the ladies of Westeros are taking their rightful places as the badass conquerors, and no man — living or white walker — can stop them.


GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

There've been moments of badass women wielding power peppered throughout the series, but now the women of "Game of Thrones" are taking center stage like never before.

After many, many, many seasons of seeing female characters degraded and used as props and naked background decoration, we're finally seeing these amazing women get what's coming to them — namely, positions of high power, revenge, and most importantly, female solidarity.

It's like "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" but instead of chant circles and mint juleps, we have bloody body piles and dragon-scorched boats.

Ya-Ya! GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

Sansa Stark has transformed from a terrified prisoner into a military strategist.

This is perhaps the most exciting character journey of the season — Sansa has come a long way in just nine episodes and won't let anyone stand in the way of reclaiming her own autonomy and her home.

GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

Not only did Sansa manage to escape the clutches of the unnervingly evil Ramsay Bolton, but with the help of Brienne of Tarth, she made it all the way to her brother John Snow at Castle Black where she promptly schooled him on how to build an army. Of course, he didn't listen to her — because even the John Snows of Westeros can be pig-headed.

In the most recent episode, "Battle of the Bastards," rather than let her brother die (again), Sansa went behind his back to save his (and everyone else's) skin using her Aery army connections.

Of course, she does wait until the very last minute to teach her big brother the most important lesson: When dealing with a sadistic psychopath, you should always listen to his former wife.

Well-seasoned conqueror, Daenerys Targaryen, aka Khaleesi, aka the Mother of Dragons, may have begun this season working alone, but now she's aligned herself with another powerful woman: Yara of Ironborn.

GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

True, Daenerys has been burning her name into all the eastern kingdoms for several seasons now, but in season 6, she's really coming into her own. At the beginning of this season, she sought fiery revenge on the Dothraki leaders, took the remaining people under her command, and subdued the slave leaders with her dragon children.

In "Battle of the Bastards," Daenerys raised her dominating lady power to the nth degree when she combined forces with everyone's favorite sea-based ruler — Yara of Ironborn.

Boom! Solidarity sister mic drop! GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

This union is the feminist equivalent of the Ghostbusters crossing proton streams: Despite the fear of world implosion, we'll end up better and safer on the other side.

As if in response to all the public outcry against how the show handles rape, Daenerys explicitly called for an end to it, along with "reaving, roving, and raiding" in her pact with Yara.


Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island, who made her first appearance this season, is proof that even 10-year-old girls can lead armies.

Image from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

We all instantly fell in love with her because she's sassy (“Lady Sansa is a Bolton ... or is she a Lannister?”), but when it came down to it, she was willing to stand strong with her brethren and fight the ultimate battle.

And while Sansa, Daenarys, Yara, and Lyanna are all out there leading their people, they aren't the only female characters owning their power this season.

Margaery of Tyrell has spent this season proving that sometimes you can fight without physical weapons and still win major battles.

GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

After all, she's been dealing with a powerful religious fanatic (*cough* cult leader *cough*) who's taken control of King's Landing. Under such circumstances, she's had to play her hand close to the chest, but so far, it appears to be working.

And, lastly, having spent two seasons trying to become a girl with no name — Arya Stark is now ready to embrace the power that comes with owning her identity.

GIF from "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

Arya's training with, and subsequent epic fight against, the Waif in a series of terminator-style face offs demonstrate how size, gender, and age truly do not matter when it comes to being able to deliver heart-pounding action sequences.

Slick fighting skills are far from the only thing that's turned Arya into a pillar of strength, however. Her encounter with the playhouse actress, Lady Crane, taught her to trust her own judgement rather than leave her fate in the hands of the many-faced god.

According to HBO, this six-season journey toward Westeros' feminist future has been part of the plan all along.

"It’s the women that are the hope that we’re watching as the chess pieces move this season, and it’s very exciting,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly.

Given that for six seasons audiences have tuned in to see women being raped, tortured, blinded, and married off to horrible men over and over again — simply put, this shift is both incredibly welcome and long overdue.

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Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.

World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.

"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.

"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.

The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."

Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.

Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.

Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.

Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.

The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.

But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.

Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.

Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.

From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.

Anyone who has gone through the process of disentangling themselves from an addiction knows it's an ongoing, daily battle. It may get easier, and the payoffs may become more apparent, but it's still a decision someone makes each day to stay detached from their substance of choice.

Seeing someone who has a long record of sobriety—especially after a very public struggle—can be motivating and inspiring for others in different stages of their recovery journey. That's part of why actor Rob Lowe's announcement that he's reached 31 years sober is definitely something to celebrate.

"Today I have 31 years drug and alcohol free," Lowe wrote on Twitter. "I want to give thanks to everyone walking this path with me, and welcome anyone thinking about joining us; the free and the happy. And a big hug to my family for putting up with me!! Xoxo"

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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