Angelina Jolie continues her work for refugees in the Congo ahead of the G8 Summit, and the marriage equality debate finally arrives in the Supreme Court today — plus, find out why the 2014 Oscars had to make way for the Winter Olympics and what's next for Victoria Beckham's fashion empire!
We're excited to share this post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we will be bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Amy Graff about how moms can combat the famine in Africa.
A debate recently erupted on the BabyCenter Facebook page over whether the United States government should provide education, food, clean water, vaccinations, and other health services to those living in poverty-stricken Africa. Many Facebook fans sympathized with moms and children suffering in under-resourced areas while others felt that we should turn our back to the famine in Africa and focus on those who are struggling in our own country.
And then the discussion spiraled into a heated political discussion.
Honestly, I don’t think this should be about politics. Yes, it’s about government, but it’s not about left and right. It’s about right and wrong. It’s about whether you value a child’s life or not.
This discussion was sparked by a Facebook post about my visit to the White House. On Tuesday I stepped inside the West Wing with a group of 10 other moms to meet with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith.
We were invited to the White House because over the Summer we traveled to Kenya on a trip organized by ONE, a nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to fighting poverty and preventable disease in Africa (join ONE Moms). You might remember some of my Momformation blog posts about visiting a hospital where doctors treat kids with malaria and watching a health-care worker test a family for HIV. We observed US investments savings lives, and now we were bringing our experience back to Washington DC to let lawmakers know that these programs are effective and working.
Dr. Biden chimed in with stories about her recent visit to a Somalia refugee camps in eastern Africa, a part of the continent that’s experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, the worst famine in 20 years, and ongoing violence. She consoled women and children trying to survive in the largest camp in the world. It was originally built to accommodate 90,000 people and is now overflowing with nearly a half-million impoverished people. In Somalia, a child is dying every six minutes.
“It’s so bad,” Dr. Biden said. “It’s worse than you can ever imagine.”
Michelle Obama landed in South Africa last night for her second official trip abroad by herself since Barack was elected. The first lady will be joined by her two daughters, Sasha and Malia, for the six-day tour of South Africa and Botswana, along with her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew. Michelle will meet with girls and young women, and the focus of the trip is youth leadership, but today the crew met with one of the continent's older leaders, 92-year-old Nelson Mandela. Michelle and her family also visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation, where they examined Mandela's significant personal photographs and journals.
Later this week, Michelle will use her popularity in Africa to call attention to health issues like HIV/AIDS, and she'll attend a Friday tribute to girls who have overcome adversity in Botswana. See some photos of the trip so far now.
How can you empower a woman? Give her a clean stove.
Women in Africa and other developing countries spend their days cooking over old stoves or open fires without chimneys or proper ventilation. The toxic smoke destroys their lungs, along with the lungs of their children, resulting in 1.9 million premature deaths a year, while sickening many more. In fact, "indoor pollution" is the fourth biggest health risk in the developing world, after unclean water, unsafe sex, and undernourishment.
Today, Hillary Clinton will pledge $50 million to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves on behalf of the State Department. The plan to distribute clean and efficient stoves will also help the environment by reducing consumption of fuel and toxic pollution, and will allow families to save money. I find it truly amazing how a small change — like a new stove — can save lives and make such an important impact on these women's lives.
At this year's international AIDS conference, the world health community celebrated a new vaginal gel that decreases a woman's risk of contracting HIV. "For the first time we have seen results for a woman-initiated and controlled HIV prevention option," said the director of the UN's AIDS policy. But could this option also be a burden?
The gel, used before sex, is intended for women who cannot convince their partners to use condoms, which, according to the UN, amounts to most women in the world. Critics say embracing such a gel as the solution cements the idea that a man has a right to condomless sex. In other words, huge amounts of money is going toward research simply to make sure men don't have to wear condoms, instead of focusing resources on teaching safe sex and changing social norms.
For more on the dilemma keep reading.
Do you remember when SATC2 arrived in Abu Dhabi? All I kept thinking was I really want to spend a few months in that exact resort, in that exact suite or something very similar. Little did we all know it was actually filmed in Morocco (I knew that market looked familiar), a world class playground since Frank Sinatra sang "I did it my way."
And now, it looks like I can have it my way courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Tamuda Bay resort on the Mediterranean Ocean. This work in progress resort will include 80 marina apartments, a golf course, a beach club, and of course, a world class spa to pamper, relax, and soothe away any stress you might have brought with you. The architectural firm WATG known for their contemporary style won the bid to build the exterior as well as furnish the interior.
The project also includes preserving a wetland for migratory birds and an eco park to invite and preserve wildlife where guests can get closer to nature. Tangiers will be a 45 minute ride away courtesy of a new highway, for shopping, and more shopping, and of course exploring. This could be a relaxing destination coupled with incredible shopping for fashion and home decor. I can hear the decadence calling.
Many states and cities have long recognized LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) pride during the month of June, but for the first time the entire US will do so. In his declaration, President Obama explained his motivation for making June national LGBT pride month: "This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists." Now let's get back to finally repealing don't ask, don't tell by the end of the month.
As America gets around to officially celebrating LGBT citizens, across the world in Malawi the government took a small step toward doing away with its hateful policies. After Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were imprisoned for the crime of homosexuality, local and international calls for their release helped get them out this weekend. Madonna, who has a personal connection to Malawi, celebrated their release with this statement: "In the last week over 30,000 of you added your name to mine calling for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga — the Malawi couple sentenced to 14 years hard labor for the "crime" of homosexuality. With incredible joy, I am writing to share with you that Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered their release." She says that although there's more work to be done, she has always "believed love conquers all."
Beginning with this spring's collection, Rachel Roy will be working with U.S.-based Fairwinds Trading to create jobs for women in Africa. As part of the initiative, Roy will add to her Rachel Rachel Roy collection items which have been handcrafted in Africa by female-owned businesses.
Flotea Masawe, owner of Marvelous Batik, who produced the aforementioned Rachel Rachel Roy handbags, recently said to WWD, “We used Kuba cloth from weavers in the Congo and crafted the clutch in Tanzania before sending it to the U.S. for Rachel’s final touches. This clutch really has created a chain of women in three different countries who linked together to help alleviate poverty by providing employment and economic opportunities for African women.”
Roy is doing her part, and all we need to do to support her and Fairwinds Trading is to shop. Now that should be easy enough.
(Below) a friendship bracelet from Rachel Rachel Roy and Fairwinds Trading.