Lego Collection Pays Tribute To Female Space Heroes

Lego’s transition into bio-plastics is probably one of their greatest achievements to date. Having said that, the company has inspired children (and adults!) to think big for decades. Its most recent collection honors the women of NASA, validating that success doesn’t rely on gender.

“In all realms of science, engineering, and technology, pioneering women have historically been underappreciated for their often groundbreaking work,”[MIT News Deputy Editor and Lecturer Maia Weinstock who proposed the idea] said in a statement.

This is truly a big move, considering how the usual Lego collection depicts fantastical universes like Star Wars or Minecraft. Not only is the company pandering to the interests of young girls now, they are doing so with an inspirational agenda.

The set’s figures include Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, and Margaret Hamilton, who developed software for the Apollo spacecraft. It will also come with miniatures of the Hubble Telescope and Space Shuttle, among other tools. Lego hopes to encourage more girls to explore various branches of science.

[Weinstock added,] “We have also seen that when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas.”

Remember, girls — science is, of course, also for you. And forget “nerdy.” Microscopes and bunsen burners are the new “cool.”

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The Real History Behind Mother’s Day

Time and time again, a mother proves herself to be a great blessing to those around her. Sometimes, it takes a lot of sacrifice, as shown to us by a mother who chose to forgo cancer treatment to save her baby. Sometimes, it can be in the seemingly little things, like this mom’s viral post on social media promoting depression awareness.

Other times, a mother shares her kindness to people not even her real children, as in the case of this woman donating 5,000 pints of breast milk to gay couples and parents of premature babies, this woman adopting her former student who has been in the foster system since he was nine, or even this group of stay-at-home female doctors providing online consultations to the poor.

Mother’s Day is a tribute to people like them, for sure. But beyond the flowers, fancy gifts in pastel wrapping paper, and delightful brunches, the real history behind the holiday has a lot more to do with peace activism and anti-war sentiments.

A woman named Anna Jarvis started a campaign for an official holiday honoring mothers in 1905, the year her own mother died . . . Over the next few years, Jarvis pushed to have the holiday officially recognized . . . Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day an official holiday, to take place the second Sunday of May.

Anna Jarvis put Mother’s Day on the calendar as a day dedicated to expressing love and gratitude to mothers, acknowledging the sacrifices women make for their children.

If you’ve ever experienced confusion on where the apostrophe falls, don’t worry. I think all of us have. However, even in the 1900s, Anna Jarvis was determined to make it a singular possessive, with the apostrophe coming before the s. She believed that each mother in each family has to be recognized, and so, each mother deserves to feel like it’s her own day.

But again, like I’ve teased earlier, the history of Mother’s Day has even deeper roots. Where did Anna Jarvis get the idea to push for her agenda? That’s right — the answer, of course, is her own mom.

[Ann Reeves Jarvis] played an important role uniting women for good causes. [She] cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the field during the Civil War, and in its aftermath she organized a “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” the goal of which was to foster reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers by having them come together, along with mothers from both sides.

In an attempt to stop the violence brought upon by the American Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis wanted to rally mothers. Her entire life was spent promoting peace and childcare, especially in the midst of war. No wonder her daughter wanted to pay tribute to motherhood.

Years later, daughter Anna Jarvis lobbied against the commercialization of the holiday. She thought that the whole point of Mother’s Day was defeated by how florists, card-makers, and other businesses profit so much from it. And I agree, though I won’t protest the existence of the holiday itself. This Mother’s Day, we might want to look beyond the fancy-shmancy stuff in shops and restaurants. Perhaps we might also want to recognize the day’s roots in women’s activism, and celebrate some recent gender milestones.

Then again, I think it’s okay to spoil your mom just a little. After all, we should remember where the apostrophe falls. This Mother’s Day, it’s okay to get your mom carnations if she loves them. It’s okay to have afternoon tea with pretty pastries. Just don’t forget what this day really is about: her.

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Stay-at-Home Female Doctors Serve the Poor Online

Women have been slowly but surely breaking the barriers that have been set for them in the past centuries. A beauty queen with Down’s syndrome made history, single mothers run startup companies, more women are fighting back against sexual harassment and even lead hundreds of people to resuscitate a dead river.

Here’s to another amazing woman. A female Pakistani doctor recognized the odds stacked against physicians in her context, and acted to provide more flexible options for women in the medical industry. Dr. Iffat Aga founded a platform to connect home-based female doctors to poor communities.

Sehat Kahani is a revolutionary tele-health platform that connects at-home, out-of-work doctors who can provide quality health care to underprivileged patients in low and middle-income markets.

The organization currently constitutes a network of 14 facilities across Pakistan which have served more than 550,000 patients. When a patient visits the clinic, a nurse logs their basic medical history, and then doctors are called in to continue the consultation through a video conferencing system.

The percentage of women in local medical schools are higher than those of men, but less than half of these women eventually end up as practitioners because they believe they need to nurture their families first. Because of the responsibility weighing down on them, female doctors stop pursuing their careers.  Dr. Iffat knew this problem needed a solution, so she partnered up with women who similarly understood — and perhaps personally experienced — the crisis, and together they built Sehat Kehani.

With a vision to create an all-female health provider network, Sehat Kahani simultaneously promotes women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, and the basic need for affordable, quality healthcare in rural and urban communities – all without the doctors ever having to leave their homes.

It is truly an inspirational balancing act to target both the issues of gender inequality and poverty at the same time. Women are not only fighting for their own rights; they are doing so in order to join larger fights.

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Late Menopause May Benefit Women’s Memory

The past few years have seen an increase in various research studies about women’s health that have truly been a long time coming. One example is New Delhi’s move to proliferate biodegradable sanitary pads which not only addresses women’s reproductive needs but also the needs of our environment.

Recently, a new study led by Diana Kuh from University College London in the United Kingdom looked at how the late onset of menopause may benefit the memory of women later in their lives. By using data from 1,315 women, they found out that women whose menopause occurred naturally and later in life scored higher on the memory assessment tests that they conducted.

Kuh comments on the findings, saying, “The difference in verbal memory scores for a 10-year difference in the start of menopause was small — recalling only one additional word, but it’s possible that this benefit could translate to a reduced risk of dementia years later.”

However, she adds, “More research and follow-up are needed to determine whether that is the case.”

The study’s scope also included other aspects about the women’s health like whether they were taking hormone replacement therapy, whether they had a hysterectomy, their cognitive ability since childhood, as well as social factors like their education and line of work.

Kuh and her colleagues conclude: “Our findings suggest lifelong hormonal processes, not just short-term fluctuations during the menopause transition, may be associated with verbal memory, consistent with evidence from a variety of neurobiological studies.”

Of course, I agree with Dr. Kuh’s statement. Further research is definitely necessary. I also think, as seen in the recently-won fight for equal pay like in Nordic countries such as Iceland, that perhaps more and more institutions and organizations would see the importance of studying and addressing women’s concerns, as more and more women around the world push further for their rights.

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New Delhi To Sell Biodegradable Sanitary Pads

If people won’t stop tossing ’em, make ’em biodegradable. Since car tires, cooking grills, and six-pack beer holders went green, engineers are treading even deeper waters. In honor of International Women’s Day (and Mother Nature, of course) New Delhi is introducing biodegradable sanitary napkins for only Rs. 2.50 a pad. That’s hardly half a dollar!

The sanitary napkins will be available in a pack of four pads for Rs 10 across over 3,200 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendras by May 28, 2018, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Ananth Kumar said.

Currently, a pack of four napkins sells at Rs 32 ($0.49) — a ridiculous price for an easily perishable necessity.  Even worse, they are hardly accessible in rural communities.

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58 per cent of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins and tampons.

What’s better than to make an essential affordable and eco-friendly? Power to you, India!

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Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban On Women Drivers

Throughout the course of history, women across the globe have been fighting for their rightful place in society. Unfortunately, the war is far from over — but women continue to speak out. Robyn and Michelle Lyle are working to remove the stigma on breast education. Now, Saudia Arabia is lifting its 27-year-old ban on female drivers — an enormous victory for thousands.

Saudi leaders… hope the new policy will help the economy by increasing women’s participation in the workplace. Many working Saudi women spend much of their salaries on drivers or must be driven to work by male relatives.

Many have attempted to justify the ban by claiming that driving would promote promiscuity or even damage women’s ovaries. For long, Saudi women have been subject to male “guardianship.” The law, which requires male consent for a woman’s actions, is limiting and humiliating. Eliminating the ban will have positive effects on many aspects of Saudi life.

Low oil prices have limited the government jobs that many Saudis have long relied on, and the kingdom is trying to push more citizens, including women, into private sector employment. But some working Saudi women say hiring private drivers to get them to and from work eats up much of their pay.

The decree is another breakthrough for Saudi’s female population, who were only given the right to vote in 2015.

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Saudi Arabian Cinemas To Welcome Women

Lifting decades-long bans on women driving and entering sports stadiums, Saudi Arabia is taking steps in the right direction. Easing up on more restrictions, the conservative kingdom is now allowing women to enjoy cinemas. 2,000 screens for the first time in 35 years to be exact.

“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom. Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification.” [said culture minister Awwad Alawwad.]

While the news is blowing citizens away, the Saudi government still has to consider whether or not to censor films. Segregation is also an issue that remains up in the air, as the change could be too sudden.

“It should be done very gradually. This is a new era for Saudi and a new step for us. This will show the world that we also have an artistic side. We have to keep progressing.”

In an era of social reform, Saudi Arabia can’t afford any mistakes. After all, freedom is a tricky thing.

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Beauty Queen With Down’s Syndrome Makes History

Since young model Joseph Hale proved he was more than his Down’s syndrome, others with the condition are following suit. Mikayla Holmgren is now making headlines as the first contestant with Down’s syndrome to compete in Miss USA.

“It was clear to us from the very beginning that Mikayla was uniquely special,” [said] a representative for Miss USA… “Her energy, confidence, and attitude are contagious, and we felt very confident that this experience would be a perfect fit for Mikayla.”

The 22-year-old previously snatched the title of Minnesota Miss Amazing Junior Miss in 2015. As expected, fans of Holmgren have been praising the American beauty for breaking stereotypes all over social media.

“My plans for the future are to graduate from Bethel University and then open an art studio for kids with disabilities to come and learn how to dance and create art,” Holmgren said.

Providing a platform for other women, Holmgren has evolved beauty pageants beyond looks. Anyway, it’s all about heart these days.

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