Why it matters that there are no women in this photo of Trump's health care meeting.

Something is missing from this picture.

I'll give you a hint: It's the same thing that was missing from this picture, taken a month earlier.

Photo by Ron Sachs/Getty Images.

In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting any foreign aid organization that performs abortions from receiving federal funds.


No women were there to witness it.

Now Trump is moving forward with plans to make significant changes to America's health care system. And — as Trump's tweet showed — once again, women are nowhere to be seen.

50% of all Americans are women. Much like men, women sometimes get sick and have to go to the doctor. They also face some unique health care challenges — particularly related to the having of babies and the planning of if or when to have them.  

While it's true that none of the health insurance CEOs in the photo Trump tweeted are women and that his Health and Human Services secretary is a man and that all of his top advisers are male, sure, it's certainly possible his administration will involve women in its health care project somewhere along the line.

But given that he hasn't seen fit to include women thus far, the optics sure are fishy.

Not consulting women on health policy decisions leaves women with fewer options and more expensive care.

Before Obamacare prohibited "gender rating" health plans, women on some plans paid up to 80% more in premiums than men — often on the grounds that women's specific health care requirements, like birth control, gynecology, and mammograms, are somehow "extra."

Obamacare's contraception mandate, which requires insurers to cover birth control, is already under fire from conservative lawmakers who want to strike it from law, again on the assumption that such coverage should be considered optional because men don't require it.

Separately, Congress is getting dangerously close to defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection care, and reproductive health services to millions of women every year. The organization has already issued a warning that our existing infrastructure can't absorb the patients who would be displaced if it's forced to shut down.

This is what happens when the people in charge — who are often men — don't stop to ask women what they need.

Trump, historically, hasn't been all that great at understanding things that are outside his own very specific personal experience.

At a recent press conference, Trump expressed his frustration with the slow pace of Obamacare reform, saying, "Nobody knew health care could be so complicated." While it's true that he probably didn't realize that (after all, as a lifelong rich person, he's probably never had to worry about health care), just about everyone else on planet Earth — right, left, and center — did.

Trump, like most members of Congress and, apparently, health insurance company CEOs, has never been a woman. He's never been pregnant. He's never taken hormonal birth control. He's never had a mammogram or a pap smear. He's probably never bought tampons. The notion that he and a dozen male health honchos can hammer out a plan that's fundamentally fair to women and takes their particular challenges into account without consulting or involving women in the process is dubious at best.

The obvious next step? Trump needs to ask women what they need out of a health care law.

Women! Photo via iStock.

The good news is that there are plenty who are more than qualified to give the president some notes. He could ask any number of the dozens of female Ph.D.s at American universities who study health policy. He could ask Oregon Gov. Kate Brown or Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, who oversaw successful implementations of the Affordable Care Act in their states.

Health insurer CEOs certainly aren't the be-all-end-all of advice, but if Trump wanted to ask one, he could get even in touch with Karen Ignagni of EmblemHealth.

Getting some women in the room isn't a panacea.

Trump is stubborn, and ultimately Congress is going to be the primary driver of Obamacare repeal and replace anyway. But for a president whose opinion seems to be moved by the last person he spoke to, having some qualified ladies tell him about the need for birth control, safe abortion, and cervical cancer screenings couldn't hurt. And he should want to hear from them!

Heck, even asking Ivanka would be a step forward.

She seems to favor a more gender-balanced approach to decision-making after all.

It might not change his approach.

But dear God. He could at least ask.

Photo courtesy of Yoplait
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When Benny Mendez asked his middle school P.E. students why they wanted to participate in STOKED—his new after school program where kids can learn to skateboard, snowboard, and surf—their answers surprised him.

I want to be able to finally see the beach, students wrote. I want to finally be able to see the snow.

Never having seen snow is understandable for Mendez's students, most who live in Inglewood, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. But never having been to the beach is surprising, since most of them only live 15-20 minutes from the ocean. Mendez discovered many of them don't even know how to swim.

"A lot of the kids shared that they just want to go on adventures," says Mendez. "They love nature, but...they just see it in pictures. They want to be out there."

Mendez is in his third year of teaching physical education at View Park K-8 school, one of seven Inner City Foundation Education schools in the Los Angeles area. While many of his students are athletically gifted, Mendez says, they often face challenges outside of school that limit their opportunities. Some of them live in neighborhoods where it's unsafe to leave their houses at certain times of day due to gang activity, and many students come to his P.E. class with no understanding of why learning about physical health is important.

"There's a lot going on at home [with my students]," says Mendez. "They're coming from either a single parent home, or foster care. There's a lot of trauma behind what's going on at home...that is out of our control."

Photo courtesy of Yoplait

What Mendez can control is what he gives his students when they're in his care, which is understanding, some structure, and the chance to try new things. Mendez wakes up at 4:00 a.m. most days and often doesn't get home until 9:00 p.m. as he works tirelessly to help kids thrive. Not only does he run after school programs, but he coaches youth soccer on the weekends as well. He also works closely with other teachers and guidance counselors at the school to build strong relationships with students, and even serves as a mentor to his former students who are now in high school.

Now Mendez is earning accolades far and wide for his efforts both in and out of the classroom, including a surprise award from Yoplait and Box Tops for Education.

Yoplait and Box Tops are partnering this school year to help students reach their fullest potential, which includes celebrating teachers and programs that support that mission. Yoplait is committed to providing experiences for kids and families to connect through play, so teaming up with Box Tops provided an opportunity to support programs like STOKED.

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Jamie Costa in ROBIN Test Footage Scene.

I think we can all agree, the loss of Robin Williams is still one that just hurts. He had an otherworldly type of quirkiness and charm that is simply irreplaceable. Not to mention a warmth that was like no other.

Luckily, we get to have one more viewing opportunity. One that feels remarkably like watching Williams on screen again. All thanks to a fellow comedian.

Jamie Costa, like Williams, is a jack-of-all-trades in the performing world. His bio describes him as an actor, director, producer, writer, voice actor, filmmaker, comedian and—most important for this story—a very talented impressionist. Though he embodies many well-known characters, Costa's claim to fame is his uncanny rendition of Robin Williams.

It's easy to see why. The actor not only bears an eerie physical resemblance to the late comedian, but perfectly matches his (unique) vocal tone to a tee.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!