Where's the best place on earth to be a woman? These maps try to help you figure it out.

Way to go, world! And, also ... keep going.

I hadn't heard of the United Nations' Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) until this report came my way. It came out in 1979, and since then, all but five countries in the world have signed on to it.

I live in the United States, which is one of those that hasn't gotten with the program just yet. The others — for those keeping score at home — are Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.


This report surprised me, and I thought I knew about gender equality in the world. Check out these maps, and then go on over to their site to explore some more.

For one thing, more countries are at least saying the right thing when it comes to equality.

See all that green? Those are places where the constitution makes some provision for gender equality.



But then it gets dicier.

Here's the constitutional guarantee of primary education for girls. (The green is where it's free.)

But when you look at secondary education, suddenly, there's a lot more red.

Now, you might be seeing this and thinking, "Wait just a minute! I know that girls go to high school in Canada for free!" These maps show what is reflected in the countries' constitutions, not what is necessarily practiced on the ground. Those red areas simply do not mention educating young ladies in their constitutions, but many of them do provide secondary education for girls and boys.

Of course, this is all assuming that the girls aren't busy running their own households and having babies. School takes a good amount of free time.

In many countries, the minimum age when girls can get married is younger than it is for boys. This results in fewer girls completing a secondary education, a higher maternal mortality, and a greater risk of domestic abuse.

And how young, exactly, are we talking about here? Although nearly all countries have 18 years as the minimum age for people to marry, those laws are superseded by parental permission and religious or customary law.

When you take all of the possible exceptions into account, many countries effectively have no minimum age for marriage for girls.

File this under crazy things I learned today: In the United States, certain states have no minimum age for marriage with judicial and parental consent. And I know you're about to make a redneck joke here, but note that Alabama is not one of them. Delaware is though. There are also several U.S. states (ahem, Massachusetts) where the age of marital consent for girls is younger than it is for boys.

There's one area in which women get more benefits than men do: parental leave.

Most countries guarantee some amount of paid leave for mothers after the birth of a baby. Look how blessedly little red is on that map. And sorry, mamas in Papua New Guinea and Suriname. I'm right with you.

But for dads? Not so much. If you're a dad in Azerbaijan, have fun with your little bundle of joy. But if you're across the border in Iran or Georgia? No leave for you!

Just a note here, because it's confusing to look at, but dark green in the "paid leave for moms" map is "52 weeks or more." However, in the "paid leave for dads" map, it's "14 weeks or more," or equivalent to the light green, blue, and dark green on the moms map.

The truth is, as a planet, we're making real progress on treating humans equally, but ... reports like this one help us see where we are, how far we've come, and how far we still have to go.

More
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's