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.
Editor’s Note: Michele Wucker is publisher of World Policy Journal and president of the World Policy Institute (www.worldpolicy.org), a global ideas incubator focused on emerging challenges, thinkers and solutions. She also is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and author, most recently, of "LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right."
By Michele Wucker, Special to CNN
(CNN) - The courage of women like Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old student leader in Pakistan who was shot and nearly died for fighting for girls’ right to education; Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who endured nearly 15 years of house arrest because of her stand for democracy in Myanmar; and of precedent-setting presidents like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil is inspirational.
America’s women and work discussion could take a lesson from other countries.
Americans make plenty of pronouncements about why countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia should let women go to school, drive cars and have many of the rights American women take for granted.
But focusing exclusively on the extreme examples of restrictions on women’s rights elsewhere provides a convenient way to overlook the ways we could do better here at home.
We have an opportunity to learn from countries that are far ahead of the United States in closing the gender gap in leadership positions in politics and business, if we are open to it. FULL POST
By Ed Payne and Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) - A transgender rights group announced Wednesday that it has filed a discrimination complaint in Colorado on behalf of a first-grader who was born a boy but identifies as a girl.
The filing stems from a decision announced last December by officials at Fountain-Fort Carson School District that Coy Mathis could no longer use the girls' bathroom at Eagleside Elementary.
Mother Kathryn Mathis said she and her husband were shocked.
"We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, she was going to go back to being unhappy," she told CNN. "It was going to set her up for a lot of bad things."
Coy was born with male sex organs but has identified as female since she could express herself, her mother said. The child had attended classes during her kindergarten year with no problems and no complaints from anyone at the school, Mathis told reporters at the Colorado Capitol in Denver, where she was flanked by her husband, Jeremy, and four other children.
By Abbey Goodman, CNN
(CNN) - Tavi Gevinson started a blog at age 11, became a front-row fixture at Fashion Week, was called "the future of journalism" by Lady Gaga, delivered a TED talk about feminism and female role models in pop culture, is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie,an online magazine for teenage girls and, to commemorate its first anniversary, just published 'Rookie Yearbook One,' a hard-copy scrapbook of the best pieces from the site.
And, oh yeah, she's 16 years old.
In five short years, the wunderkind from Oak Park, Illinois, has gone from self-proclaimed nerd to full-blown media mogul, using her platform to champion important teen girl causes ranging from How to Bitchface - a step-by-step primer to "reacting to varying levels of stupidity" (see her demonstrate on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon") to organizing a Get Well Soon card drive for Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl activist who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen.
Rookie launched in Fall 2011 and broke 1 million page views in under a week. Since then, the site has explored monthly themes likeobsession, drama, play and paradise. Right now, it's mythology. Or, as Gevinson explains in the editor's letter: "lies, exaggerations, legends, the works."
To kick off each theme, Gevinson creates a mood board using fashion photos, film stills and album art as inspiration. Then she and the site's 50 contributors - including fellow teens and more than a handful of celebrities - go about interpreting her vision through articles, interviews, photos, playlists and illustrations. To accommodate kids' schedules, Rookie updates three times a day: after school, around dinner and before bed.
Before she was named one of Huffington Post's most amazing young people of 2012, Gevinson spoke with CNN about the power of teenage girls, making angst romantic and the one secret Jon Hamm must never find out.
By CNN Staff
(CNN) - Jessica Rees was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 11, and she and her parents would drive to the hospital every day to receive outpatient treatment.
"One day we were leaving, and she just simply asked us, 'When do all the other kids come home?'" said her father, Erik.
When Jessica found out that many of them would have to stay at the hospital, she wanted to help "make them happier, because I know they're going through a lot, too," she said.
So she started making JoyJars - containers full of toys, stickers, crayons, anything that might brighten a child's day.
"She was really particular about what would go in the jars," said her mother, Stacey. "It had to be something cool, it couldn't be cheap or flimsy."
Jessica created 3,000 JoyJars before she passed away this January. But her parents are carrying on her legacy.
By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
(CNN) – Rochelle Ballantyne plays chess the same way she walks through the streets of New York, determined to reach her goal without letting any obstacles slow her down.
The 17-year-old student from Brooklyn is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American to attain the ranking of chess master.
"I've never been the first anything so having that title next to my name is going to... it's going to feel amazing."
She crushes her opponents in a sport dominated by men.
Ballantyne grew up in a single-parent home in the working class neighborhood of East Flatbush. She first learned to play chess from her grandmother, who didn't want Rochelle's background to limit or prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. Ballantyne did not disappoint.
"When I push myself, then nothing can stop me."
Listen to the story on CNN Radio's Soundwaves blog
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - After unveiling its "first Latina" princess last week, Disney now says Jamie Mitchell, the producer of the TV show "Sofia the First," "misspoke" during a press tour and that the title character is not a Latina.
The word comes after questions arose about what made "Sofia the First" culturally relevant and why the media wasn't informed when the show was first announced in 2011.
Backlash for Disney's first Latina princess
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, a Latino media advocacy organization, met with Nancy Kanter, Disney Junior Worldwide's senior vice president of original programming a general manager, to discuss the impact of "Sofia the First" in the Latino community.
"She shared that Sofia the First is in fact not a Latina character and that the producer of the television program misspoke," NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales said in a statement. "We accept the clarification and celebrate the good news that Disney Junior has an exciting project in early development that does have a Latina as the heroine of the show."
Read the full story
By Emily Smith, CNN
(CNN) - In Tuesday's presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney highlighted the number of women in the unemployment lines during President Barack Obama's term.
"In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years," Romney said.
The picture he painted is dire, but a bit dated.
Fact Check: Candidates positions on contraception?
The Romney statement would imply that between January 2009 (when Obama took office) and September 2012 (the most recent month for which we have statistics), that 580,000 women have lost their jobs.
According to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 66.1 million women on nonfarm payrolls in January 2009. In September 2012, that number was 65.8 million. That's a loss of roughly 300,000 jobs - 283,000, to be precise.
So where does the 580,000 jobs lost claim come from? It could be 6 months old.
In March, 65.5 million women were employed - a net loss of 583,000 jobs since January 2009. That would give Romney the magic number. But, since March, 300,000 jobs have been added to the economy, reducing the jobs lost number to 283,000.
Editor's note: Melanne Verveer is the United States ambassador-at-large for global women's issues and Penny Abeywardena is the head of the Girls and Women program and associate director at the Clinton Global Initiative.
By Melanne Verveer and Penny Abeywardena, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Women have finally arrived.
From Washington to Wall Street to Twitter, writers, academics, and business leaders are pointing to the empowerment of women as key to many of the world's greatest challenges. They're publicizing the research and amplifying hard facts, like the fact that when women have equal access to agricultural resources, 100 million to 150 million fewer people will go hungry.
Or that when women participate equally in the workforce, the GDP in the U.S. the eurozone, and Japan will experience a double-digit spike. And while there's no perfect metric for the popular perception of "girl power," a 2010 Pew study found widespread public support for women's equality in virtually every nation.
The excitement over women's potential and progress is warranted. But there's still a large and disappointing disconnect between research and reality. Girls and women do indeed perform 66% of the work and produce 50% of the world's food. But they earn only 10% of the world's income and own a dismal 1% of its property.
And women everywhere experience less access to credit, training, technology, markets, role models, and protection under the law. Girls and women may keep the world running, but someone else is still running the show.
So if women have indeed "arrived," despite key indicators showing continued widespread inequality, where exactly have they landed? All signs point to girls and women at a tipping point.
Read Melanne Verveer and Penny Abeywardena's full column
Editor's note: We want to hear from you - what woman inspires you, and why? She could be another athlete, or a writer, an activist, or even your mom. Leave your suggestions, stories and memories in the comments section below and we'll feature the best on CNN.com.
By Wynn Westmoreland, for CNN
(CNN) - In the 4×100 sprint relay, it is the handoffs that decide the winner. Speed is important, but without a top-notch changeover, you're out. The maneuver is a perfectly orchestrated move performed in a split second without looking.
It's all about teamwork, something Tianna Madison knows a thing or two about. She was part of the U.S. team that won gold in the relay at the London Olympics, shattering the world record in the process.
Madison is now back in the U.S., using the lessons she learned on the track to help young girls learn their worth and make positive choices for the future.
As a role model, she is not shy to share her experiences - including the downs in her life: "I went from being World Champion long jumper in 2005, to nothing in the last seven years, to now being an Olympian.
"I dealt with a bankruptcy; I had my home foreclosed, and these were things that happened and I was not honest with myself about why I was in that situation," she said.
Crucially for her career, she realized that she couldn't deal with everything on her own. She was lucky enough to get help and support from her husband.
Building on this experience, she started Club 360, to give young women love and support, which they might not find elsewhere.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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