Editor's note: Christiane Amanpour is anchor of CNN's "Amanpour." This open letter to the girls of the world is part of the "Girl Rising" project. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world. Watch it June 16 on CNN.
By Christiane Amanpour, CNN
(CNN) - Dear Girls of the World,
There are more than 7 billion people in the world. Half of them are women and girls.
Just imagine the whole world rising, as it will, when all women and girls are empowered.
It has to start with education. All the number crunchers have it right on this one: education = empowerment, from here in the United States to Uruguay and Ulan Bator.
The United Nations, the World Bank and any organization you can think of say that an educated girl is a girl who can get a job, become a breadwinner and raise herself, her family, her village, her community and eventually her whole country. All the stories and statistics show that a healthy society is one whose women are healthy and productive.
Look at what women and girls are achieving for Rwanda, 19 years after the genocide there. The country leads the way in Africa in every way: education, health, the economy, the environment and in elected politics, powered by the force of its women. It is an amazing story. In contrast, the Arab world, which is so rich in natural resources such as oil and gas, is way behind in all development indicators, because half their populations, their women, are denied basic rights. It's why the Arab Spring must liberate and fully empower women, for the good of those countries.FULL STORY
By Breeanna Hare, CNN
(CNN) - With Jimmy Fallon's takeover of "The Tonight Show" destined for 2014, there's the tiniest glimmer of hope that NBC will do something different with the vacated seat on "Late Night."
For once, maybe we'll see something fresh, something other than the established white-guy-in-a-suit-sitting-behind-the-desk tradition that's held on since the show debuted in 1982.
Longtime TV critic Ken Tucker indulged in the wishful thinking, asking on Grantland if he "may really spit in the wind and suggest that maybe, finally, for the love of God and Totie Fields, maybe it's time (once again) to give a woman a chance behind the desk?" Rather than traditional stand-up comics, Tucker hoped to see Paget Brewster, Julie Klausner, or, hope against hope, Amy Poehler, even.
But none of those women was among those named in the gossip surrounding the proceedings - and the one woman who was, ever so tentatively, mentioned by the New York Post's Page Six, Tina Fey, was said to be "too busy" for the nightly grind.
That left Seth Meyers - Fey, Poehler and Fallon's "Saturday Night Live" co-star - carrying the bulk of the speculation that he'd move to "Late Night," along with rumors that Alec Baldwin might be in talks to join the post-prime-time lineup. It's thereby signaled another round of the now time-honored question, "Where the (bleep) are the ladies in late night?"FULL STORY
(CNN) - In 2011, Meryl Streep gives her thoughts on Margaret Thatcher's legacy after portraying her in "The Iron Lady."
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Two days of arguments on gay marriage at the Supreme Court ended Wednesday. The justices heard both sides in two separate cases: California's voter-approved Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage on a federal level as being only between a man and a woman.
It could be months before the court makes a ruling. CNN spoke with a few people who were inside the nation's highest court Wednesday or were monitoring the hearings closely from the outside. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst: "I think DOMA is in trouble, and I think it's in trouble because Anthony Kennedy was repeatedly concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act violates states rights. Anthony Kennedy, who as we all know is the swing vote on this court, is someone who is concerned about gay rights, although he said very little, I think nothing, about the issue of whether the Defense of Marriage Act violated gay people's constitutional rights. He was clearly very concerned that the Defense of Marriage Act was invading the province of the states to define marriage. That's a state function, usually. And that would certainly be suggesting that he was going to strike down the law. Certainly the other liberals, the four Democratic appointees, looked like they were going to vote it down."
Edith "Edie" Windsor, plaintiff who challenged DOMA: "I am today an out lesbian, OK, who just sued the United States of America, which is kind of overwhelming for me. I think it's gonna be good."
Jonathan Turley, law professor, George Washington University: "You're seeing sort of a sticker shock with the justices, that they were worried about handing down a major ruling either recognizing same-sex marriage or the right of equality, or rejecting it."
Chad Hollowe, supporter of same-sex marriage: "It's pretty clear that some justices like (Antonin) Scalia are going to vote against it no matter what. Scalia was engaged in a long back and forth about how exactly did this become unconstitutional all of a sudden. Was this unconstitutional when the constitution was created - when the 14th amendment was passed? Was it unconstitutional 10 days ago - when did this happen? His line of questioning made it pretty clear he was dead set against it, which shouldn't be surprising, given Scalia's history."
Eric Delk, who attended court arguments Wednesday: "Well, I think that the conservative justices feel that Prop 8 is valid, but I think some of the more liberal justices know it needs to be altered. Because the people decided something different from what the courts decided and opinions have changed since the Prop 8 vote. And I think in California, if they had a vote now, they would probably allow same-sex marriage."
Mary Ann Piet, social worker: "I'm here today because I'm a social worker, and I've seen a lot of people suffer over the years. And I'm concerned about not getting people their human rights, their dignity as people. And this will give dignity and human rights to people. I have members of my family that are gay, and I see them suffer internally."
Also on this blog: A time line of gay rights in America
By John D. Sutter, CNN
Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a human rights and social change columnist for CNN Opinion. E-mail him at CTL@CNN.com or follow him on Twitter (@jdsutter), Facebook or Google+. This column contains language that may offend some readers.
Franklin County, Mississippi (CNN) - Statistically speaking, Franklin County should be straighter than John Wayne eating Chick-fil-A. The middle-of-nowhere rectangle in southwest Mississippi - known for its pine forests, hog hunting and an infamous hate crime - is home to exactly zero same-sex couples, according to an analysis of census data.
In other words: It's a place where gays don't exist.
At least not on paper.
Before I visited Franklin County, I figured there must be gay people living in Straight County USA. But I didn't expect anyone to be open about it - and with good reason. As part of this op-ed project, I recently ranked the Hospitality State as one of the least hospitable for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, based on its lack of legal protections. In addition to allowing gays and lesbians to be fired because of who they are, Mississippi is also gracious enough to let landlords evict gay residents.
Those are great incentives for a gay person to become invisible. And being invisible, of course, could mean avoiding census workers.
I drove to this place of rolling hills and misty valleys with a few questions on my mind: Can there really be such a thing as an all-straight county? If so, what is it like to be someone who never has met a gay person? Do you just watch "Glee" and figure it out?
If there are gay people in Franklin County, what keeps them hidden?
I spent a few days searching for answers before I realized I was making the wrong assumptions: It's not that gay people here (or anywhere really) want to be in the closet, necessarily. It's the rest of the world that pushes them in and shuts the door.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is the author of "Lean In." Watch the first part of Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg at 8 a.m. ET Monday on CNN.
By Sheryl Sandberg, Special to CNN
(CNN) - My hope in writing "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" was to change the conversation from what women can't do to what we can.
We need a national conversation that examines the barriers that hold women back and prevent us from achieving true equality. Additionally and just as importantly, we need personal conversations among us all - managers and employees, friends, colleagues, partners, parents and children - where issues about gender are discussed openly.
The blunt truth is that men still run the world. Of today's 195 independent countries, only 17 are led by women. In the United States, where our founding creed promises liberty and justice for all, women constitute just 18% of our elected congressional officials.FULL STORY
Editor's Note: Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 7 a.m. ET on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th.
By Soledad O'Brien, "Starting Point" anchor
When you walk into Facebook’s New York City office, you get a sweeping loft-like feeling from a beautiful courtyard with big open windows in the very modern Bank of America building on Madison Ave. You’re also faced with a message in massive red letters that you can only read at a distance:
“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”
I was there for my sit-down interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer. She walks me over to the wall of windows with red letters to make it clear that the message is the ethos of the social media company.
Sandberg is wearing a navy and red dress, with a dark navy cardigan, and comes across as professional and personable. She had just rushed from another interview with CNN sister company Fortune magazine. You may have also seen her in one of her other zillion interviews this week, with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” or on the cover of “TIME” magazine.
As we prepare for the interview, she tells me she doesn’t enjoy the process of talking about herself, and admits she finds it to be a bit of a struggle. But the struggle must be worth it, because Sandberg’s message is gaining traction as a result of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” which was released on Monday.
The advice in “Lean In” is best when used to guide young women. In the book, Sandberg writes that women should strive to close the ambition gap with men, and to become leaders early in their careers to allow them flexibility later on.
“ 'Lean In' is not about fixing women,” she tells me. “'Lean In' is about all of us coming together to understand the stereotypes that are holding women back and fix them.”
However, that’s not how many have interpreted Sandberg’s points.FULL STORY
By Breeanna Hare, CNN
"I always did something I was a little not ready to do," she said last year while speaking on her best decisions in a talk with NPR Correspondent Laura Sydell. "That feeling at the end of the day, where you're like, 'what have I gotten myself into?' I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens."
If the 37-year-old still makes career moves by her tried-and-true process, then she's likely anticipating something great to occur in her new role as Yahoo's CEO.
Mayer's hiring last summer, which accordng to Fortune made her the youngest head of a Fortune 500 company, came as a surprise, and her high-wire decisions since have spread far wider than Yahoo's campus.
First, there was her brief maternity leave after she gave birth to her son in September. When the Silicon Valley star first announced that she was pregnant, on the very same day Yahoo revealed she was the company's new CEO, some saw it as a progressive move and hoped Mayer would set a new standard for mothers trying to balance the competing demands of their corporate and familial roles.
What they saw instead was a businesswoman eager to get back in the office and who said that having a new baby in her life wasn't as difficult as she'd been told.
But the real critiques came last month when Yahoo's HR department issued an e-mail telling staff that they will no longer be able to work from home, prompting an angry backlash and leading some to question Mayer's judgment.
While some found her position just, others hoping the new mom would create a more reasonable corporate culture interpreted the move as unfair, noting that Mayer approved the edict while building a nursery next to her office – not an option for most working parents.
But over her nearly 14-year career in the tech world, Mayer has consistently shaken up expectations. If we've learned anything about this influential computer engineer-turned-corporate executive, it's that she plays the game of business by her own rules.
1. She doesn't do stereotypes
Part of the legend of Marissa Mayer is that she doesn't fit into our assumptions of what it means to be a tech geek.FULL STORY
By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) – Sheryl Sandberg is a role model, say her defenders.
The chief operating officer of Facebook earned two degrees from Harvard and spent the early part of her career in public service, rising to become chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers during the latter days of the Clinton administration. She helped build Google into a powerhouse; she has led the Facebook team in making the social media site ubiquitous. She's a mother who cares deeply about work-life balance and has been outspoken about women pulling together.
Sheryl Sandberg is no role model, say her detractors.
She's glided to the top thanks to the help of powerful men, whether it's the patronage of Summers, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. She's worth hundreds of millions of dollars, lives in an exclusive Bay Area suburb with a staff of minders and knows as much about being a working mother as a Pacific Heights socialite.
One thing's for sure: Sheryl Sandberg is in the crosshairs.
Her new book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead," is out Monday, and her arguments, focusing on how women in the workplace can grow their careers and their lives, have attracted both praise and denunciation - though, as the New Yorker's Anna Holmes has noted, many of the denouncers have jumped on Sandberg in the "ready, fire, aim" fashion typical of the commentariat.
"Anyone who had read her book would have known that Sandberg herself is the first to acknowledge the debts she owes to the women who came before her, not to mention her youthful naivete and eventual engagement with gender politics," Holmes wrote.
So just who is Sheryl Sandberg, and why are people saying such extreme things about her?FULL STORY