Give The World A Better Man

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Tough Cookies!

As we give thanks this Holiday season for all the fortunate things in your life, let’s take a moment to think about others who may not be so lucky – and extend our giving spirit to them.A Better Man documentary film

A Better Man is a new hopeful documentary film that is running an IndieGoGo campaign to help it achieves its mission – empower people to join the movement to END violence against women.

I couldn’t think of a more worthy cause – especially at this time of year.

As a Tough Cookie, this is an issue that I am deeply passionate about, so I would really love to see this film come to life and change the world.

And as a fellow filmmaker, I think it has the chance to achieve that – given the notably powerhouse team of experience filmmakers and survivors behind it, ready to sculpt it into reality.

Now I don’t normally use this website as a platform for pitching products or asking for money, but I do feel this project and cause are worth sharing. So if you are in a giving mood this holiday season, go check out the film’s IndieGoGo campaign to learn more.

Watch videos of the trailer and filmmakers behind the film, and see what you can contribute toward the completion of this poignant and moving project. Only 20 days left!

A Better Man film funding goalsAll of us Tough Cookies should give thanks this Thanksgiving for our own health, happiness and human rights.

But then if you feel so inspired, please join me in promoting the idea that every women and man in the world deserves the same. They deserve A Better Man.

America’s Youngest Female Billionaire

Elizabeth Holmes is America’s youngest female billionaire, and a college dropout! Holmes left Stanford University at 19 years old with a mission to start her own company and change the world – now instead of waiting like most people do for a completed degree. As she puts it,

Elizabeth Holmes“What I did was just to start a little earlier.”

So she cashed out the money her parents had set aside for her tuition, and put it towards the beginnings of a massive undertaking – revolutionizing the way we provide health care to millions of American people, by way of the $76 billion dollar laboratory-diagnostic industry.

Apparently, the way we draw and test blood samples for diagnosis and illness detection has not changed since the modern clinical lab emerged in the 1960s. So Holmes felt it was about time for innovation.

She did so with her new company’s Theranos Wellness Center, which features – besides calming music, diverting magazines and relaxing decor – a blood test that requires no more than a small, relatively painless pin prick, gathering an amount of blood smaller than a dime. She’s developed a way to run up to 70 lab tests on just this one drop of blood, in less time and at less cost than traditional tests.

No more filling multiple vials. No more tourniquets.Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos Lab

Holmes hopes this considerably greater ease of testing will encourage more Americans to get tested and help detect illness earlier on, since lab results dictate 80% of clinical decisions according to the American Clinical Laboratory Association. This is something Holmes considers vitally important, having watched her father’s career in humanitarian assistance with USAID.

“Forty to sixty percent of Americans today are not compliant with even the basic tests that their physicians give them when they do see them, because often they can’t afford it, or they are scared of needles.”

So Holmes struck a deal towards her ultimate goal of putting her Theranos Wellness Centers within five miles of every American (or one mile for people in big cities). She’s partnering with Walgreens pharmacies to make that happen, by putting her Wellness Centers inside existing Walgreens stores. They are already all over California and Arizona, and plan to rollout to another 8,200 neighborhood Walgreens across the country soon.

Now that’s an inspiring story, of one Tough Cookie who refused to wait to realize her dreams and make a difference in the world. She’s channeling her own incredible inner strength to build something that will help millions of other people live stronger and healthier as well.

Source: CNN Money

We Should All Be Feminists

On April 12, 2013, acclaimed writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TEDx talk entitled “We Should All Be Feminists.” Then in July this year, she came out with a book of the same title, to further drive home her message.Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists

And what was her point?

That we should all be questions what “feminism” really means today. That the 21st-century definition may not be what we think it is, but rather one more rooted in the concepts of inclusion and awareness. That based on this more modern re-definition, we should all of us (everyone) be feminists.

Chimamanda’s powerful personal essay really highlights the subtle and all-too-common behaviors that marginalize women around the world, and the often masked realities of sexual politics — all to paint the picture that any kind of gender divide is unhealthy and harmful to everyone.

And boy is she an incredible writer. If you’ve loved anything else Chimamanda has written, you will love this book. Or if you prefer something visual, watch the video of her TEDx talk below.

Then watch our new Tough Cookie teaser video to learn more about what Tough Cookie means, and why that message is so important today.

My New Favorite Female Action Movie Star

I was never much of a fan of Scarlett Johansson. She always somehow managed to be just a bit annoying in every movie I saw her in, whether weirdly wooing Bill Murray in Lost In Translation or being the girl we love to hate, envy and pity at the same time in He’s Just Not That Into You. And don’t even get me started on Match Point.

But she’s not without talent. She just wasn’t well suited for the sexy girl-next-door role. She was meant for more than that. And it took the team at Marvel to see that.

There’s a reason she doesn’t play the sweet but sexy girl very well – it’s too obvious. We already all hate her for being more gorgeous than us. But then if she plays someone nicer or more beloved too? Well then why would we root for her?

But since Marvel turned her into the Black Widow, and then Luc Besson turned her into Lucy, we’ve been given a reason to root for Scarlett.

Now she doesn’t just look sexy, she kicks ass while doing it. She shows us the kind of woman we want to be, and the kind of woman we want her to be too.

What’s more, she faces real struggle while doing so. She stares down big scary challenges, and fights alongside men as their equal, and doesn’t just rely on her looks and sultry voice (and yes it is very sultry) to make her way. In these new roles, Johansson proves that she does have the acting chops, as well as the karate chops, to own the big screen and carry a major film as an action star.

We haven’t had many women who could do that. There have been a few women who paved the way, but even those are sadly few. We’ve all seen Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich; and I’d also count Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton; then Michelle Yeoh did some fairly big stuff in the Asian market; and who could forget the one and only Lucy Lawless. But most of those ladies have since hung up their capes and skin-tight leather pants. So the world has been waiting and watching (for myself, extremely impatiently) for someone new to take to the ring.

Who knew Johansson would be our girl, and that she’d dominate at it?

I mean wow. She had a secret powerhouse of badassery hidden inside her all along. And now that she’s unleashed it, the world has fallen in love with it, particularly us women. Did you know that 50% of Lucy’s opening weekend audience was female, which is an extraordinary rarity for the male-oriented Action genre?

So now we want more!

And we’ll get more. Because rumors are flying high that the Black Widow will finally be getting her own solo movie in the Marvel lineup. About time!

Look out world, coz here comes Scarlett Johansson – ultimate Tough Cookie and the new face of female ferocity. And it looks gooood.

Source: Variety

The Norwegian Preteen ‘Marrying’ a 37 Yr Old

Thea's arranged marriageThea is a 12 year old Norwegian girl with a bright future ahead of her. But instead of pursuing that future, Thea was going to be married off to 37 year old man Geir on Saturday, October 11th.

Thankfully, this wedding wasn’t actually real. But it mirrors many that are, and the stories of many underage girls around the world who are forced into these kinds of arranged marriages. According to The International Center for Research on Women, one third of the world’s girls are married before the age of 18, and 1-in-9 are married before the age of 15.

This has to stop.

That’s precisely the message anti-child marriage organization Plan International, specifically their Norwegian chapter Plan Norway, hopes to spread with this Thea campaign. They set up their website to look like Thea’s personal blog, filled with posts about wedding plans and fears about having sex with her new husband.

The goal was to convince fellow Norwegians to see the horrors of this child marriage, and step in to try and stop it before it happened. And it worked. Concerned Norwegians actually called the police. And on the day of the wedding, held on the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child, hundreds of people gathered to demonstrate at the church and cried out “Stop the wedding!” when the minister asked Thea whether she took Geir to be her husband.

Perhaps the most moving moment of the wedding was when 18 year old Shahida Akhter Shorna from Bangladesh stood up to speak on behalf of real child brides like she herself was almost forced into when she was 14. Shahida said,

Today I am proud to say I have helped four other child brides out of child marriages. Thea, don’t say yes. You’re still a child. Stop the wedding.

The campaign received massive success in traditional and social media, with support from well-known figures such as Ashton Kutcher, who encouraged his 18 million Facebook fans to stop the wedding. And since then, Plan International has garnered increasing attention for their global efforts to stop child marriage, by inspiring others to get involved, as well as offering sponsorships to girls in developing countries.

As Plan Norway National Director Olaf Thommessen explains,

During the course of this campaign we have given the world an insight into how brutal a child marriage is. We hope that this protest will help to open the eyes of the world community and show that we must join forces in the fight against child marriage and to secure girls’ rights.

So mad props to all the Tough Cookies at Plan Norway for a brilliant campaign that really brought this issue to greater global attention – perhaps most of all to Thea, whose real name is Maja Bergström, for bravely taking on that challenging role and representing real-life child brides all over the world.

Source: Huffington Post

The Power Of Women Times Six

It’s that time of year again – no not the leaves changing, or first snows, or the anticipation of obligatory family time that comes with the holidays – those things are upon us as well. But what I’m most exciting about at this moment is the celebration of the sixth annual Variety Power of Women issue, which celebrated five incredible women at today’s annual luncheon who have been using their clout to bring attention to worthy causes.

Let’s meet the honorees.Variety Power of Women 2014

First we have Jennifer Lopez, who started the Lopez Family Foundation with her sister Lynda in 2008 after a health scare inspired them to want to help improve healthcare for other women and children.

Next, Reese Witherspoon is being honored for her work running production company Pacific Standard with Bruna Papandrea, and through it driving the production of films with strong, dynamic roles for women – like “Wild” and “Gone Girl.”

Jane Fonda has been a major advocate for preventing adolescent pregnancy, particularly in Georgia where there is the highest rate of it. So in 1994, she founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and has been making waves ever since.

Viola Davis has proven to be a force to reckon with for eradicating childhood hunger, partnering with both Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to introduce the Hunger Is initiative this year.

And last but certainly not least, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley is already an incredible role model, being one of the only women in her level of position in the entertainment industry. But what makes her even more awesome is her work with nonprofit organization Vital Voices and its global mentorship program.

Source: Variety

Grace Hopper Celebrates Women in Tech

This week on Wednesday 10/8 to Friday 10/10, a swarm of the world’s most powerful and prominent women in the tech industry – new and experienced, young and old – will gather at the Phoenix Convention Center for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The sold-out conference, which is sponsored by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in partnership with the Association for Computing Machinery, boasts being the world’s largest gathering of women in technology with nearly 8,000 expected attendees, representing 67 countries and 925 organizations.

That’s pretty impressive!

Grace Hopper Celebration

The 3-day event is going to feature workshops, a career fair, and panel discussions on various topics from industry leaders. And according to Anita Borg Institute spokeswoman Kate Carey, this year’s conference theme is “Everywhere. Everyone,” emphasizing the need for more diversity to help drive innovation and build future technology. So by that, it sounds like they really are encouraging anyone and everyone, everywhere, to attend. Unfortunately, if you didn’t already jump on this bandwagon, it’s now sold out. So you’ll have to wait for the next one.

GoDaddy adWhat’s particularly interesting is GoDaddy’s involvement, being one of the event’s key company sponsors. We all remember GoDaddy’s old and outdated (in more ways than one) advertising campaign featuring busty women in tiny tees. So I would not have pegged them for a pro-women’s issues company.

But apparently, CEO Blake Irving has had a change of heart in recent years – perhaps partly due to the tragic passing of his sister, who was a psychology professor specializing in women’s issues. Since then, he has pledged himself to helping women in technology, and has been quoted saying things like,

“anything I can do to help forward women in technology is important,”

and

“We’re trying to create an environment where women get to work with each other and not be on a four-person team of men, and have their points get across. It’s something we feel is important.”

Good for you, Irving! You’ve become a Tough Cookie. We’ll stand with you on that.

So if you are one of the lucky ones who scored a ticket to the Grace Hopper Celebration before it sold out, then I hope you have an amazing time and get a ton out of it.

And I hope you’ll write me here and tell me how it went!

Source: AZCentral

Emma Watson says HeForShe

Emma Watson appeared before the United Nations Headquarters in New York a week ago to give one of the most impassioned and empowering speech I’ve ever heard. Back in July, she was appointed the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. And since then, she has been taking her new role very seriously – visiting various nations, such as Zambia and Bangladesh, that struggle with this issue, taking poll of the current situation and imagining ways we can combat that and inspire change.

Her solution? A new UN initiative called HeForShe.

Emma Watson's UN HeForShe speech

In her UN speech, Watson talked about the perception versus the actual definition of feminism, which should be as simple as,

“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Instead, Watson explains how the few brave women, like herself, who do identify as feminists are considered “too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even.”

How we are as strong women supposed to stand up and speak up if we are immediately judged for the fact that we even stood up in the first place? But then again, the very fact that this is happening is also proof that gender equality is still a very real issue.

But what was particularly unique about Watson’s speech was when, half-way through, she extended a formal invitation to the men in the room to join in this quest. Her point? That being pro-women shouldn’t mean being anti-men, and that men need to be a part of the conversation in order for real change to happen. Or as she put it,

“…the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”

Watson also points out that men themselves have a right to, and don’t always receive, these basic human rights that are also shockingly lacking for women in the world — which for men means feeling like they can be vulnerable and ask for help without compromising what constitutes them as a man.

Isn’t that the truth?

Gender equality is everyone’s issue – men’s and women’s – so it should really be treated as such. That’s what HeForShe is all about. And I personally will be doing my part to “take up this mantle” as Watson encourages.

If Emma Watson, a 24-year old actress who might seem like an unlikely ambassador, can stand up and speak out despite people wondering “Who is this “Harry Potter” girl? What is she doing at the UN?” – then you and I can too!

It is our duty as human beings. It is our duty as Tough Cookies.

And to quote Watson’s speech one last time, here’s precisely why:

“All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel it is my responsibility to say something. Statesman Edmund Burke said all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”

Watch Emma Watson’s full UN speech here, and prepare to be moved:

Then watch the HeForShe campaign video to learn more about how you can get involved:

Source: Huffington Post

The Navy’s First Female 4-Star Admiral

Admiral Michelle HowardLet me tell you about Michelle Howard.
Man is she one Tough Cookie!

Last month, she became the US Navy’s first ever woman to be promoted to four-star admiral, not to mention Vice Chief of Naval Operations, the second highest position in the Navy.

But Michelle was already making waves and setting records before this latest promotion. In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a Naval ship, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore. She was also the first African American woman in any branch of the military to reach three stars.

And remember that little film with Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips? Yeah, that was based on a true story. And Michelle Howard here was the commander of that very Counter-Piracy Taskforce and spearheaded the rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali pirates… three days into taking the job!

So it goes without saying that Michelle is a huge advocate for diversity and progress. And she’s become a living expert on how to engender creativity and innovation from within a large, two-century old organization. As she told Forbes in an interview,

It’s the willingness to commit to look hard at yourself and commit to a new way of doing business. There’s great ideas out there–it’s having the courage to go ask people about what they’re doing that’s different, and saying, ‘I wonder how I could apply that to my organization.’”

So how about you? Do you have the courage to step up and make a difference, and help give a voice to others who are doing something different and innovative?

Because that’s what makes you a truly Tough Cookie, just like Michelle Howard.

Source: Forbes

GoldieBlox Builds Girls Into Engineers

If you haven’t heard of GoldieBlox, you need to – especially if you have daughters that you want to help teach about the wonders and awesomeness of engineering and math; daughters you want to see learn to embrace their inner geek and be empowered to do whatever they set their minds to.

That’s what GoldieBlox is all about!

GoldieBlox girls

According to the folks at GoldieBlox, part of the problem for why we have so few women engineers is because from a young age, girls aren’t given toys that encourage those skills or ideas. Instead, girls are given barbies and dolls and play-dress-up.

GoldieBlox % female engineersBut what if you gave young girls a toy that taught them how to use their minds to build amazing things? What if we could start them young learning to develop spatial skills and engineer something of their own invention?

Only 13% of total engineers worldwide are women. Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women.

Let’s change that!

Let’s do like GoldieBlox and believe in girls who want to learn these skills. Let’s give them the choice to be more than society has taught them to be. Let’s put the future in their hands.

I mean, think about it. If more little girls could learn to build something like this, imagine how cool that would be for the whole world!

Now those are some little Tough Cookies!

Source: UpWorthy