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

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 Although nearly all countries have 18 years as the minimum age for people to marry, those laws are superseded by parental permission and religious or customary law.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.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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