Survivor of Taliban attack graduates with honors

No one should have their education stripped away from them, not even at the hands of a bullet — that’s what this recent graduate is teaching the world.

According to HuffPost, 28-year-old Breshna Musazai of Afghanistan recently received her completed her studies in law last month from American University in Kabul, all “after she was shot twice in the leg by Taliban insurgents who are opposed to education for women.”‘

Attending high school and college in Pakistan, HuffPost says Musazai and her family returned to Afghanistan in 2011, the year she began her law studies at American University; but in 2016, Taliban fighters attacked the campus. Huffpost reports that because her right leg was crippled from polio, Taliban fighters shot her twice in her left leg, leaving her to play dead for hours until responders secured the scene; a total of 13 people were killed in the invasion.

Musazai went on to the United States to receive medical treatment, and HuffPost says she later returned to school in a wheelchair, proving her strength and her ability to rise above her circumstances.

“When I was a disabled child, I always thought that I was nothing. Now when I see people who say they are inspired by me, I feel so strong,” Musazai told Women in the World, according to HuffPost. “I want them to know that their support makes me want to do more. It also feels so good to see people using my story to support women’s education.”

Now armed with a degree and the admiration of countless around the world, HuffPost says Musazai wants to make sure the Taliban knows exactly what they’re up against.

“I want to tell [them] that they can try to kill as many of us as they can, but that doesn’t mean we will stop fighting them,” she said. “I am going to continue to work and struggle.”

GM to get female CFO, CEO

With a female CEO leading the company since 2014, General Motors is about to get a new woman in charge.

According to CNN, GM has announced that Dhivya Suryadevara will be their new CFO, joining CEO Mary Barra in leading the Fortune 500 motor company. The move also puts GM in exclusive company, says CNN, with Hershey being the only other Fortune 500 company to have both a female CEO and CFO.

As for Suryadevara, CNN says she “joined GM in 2005 and has been vice president of corporate finance since July 2017,” and her recent promotion will have her replacing Chuck Stephens, who had been CFO since 2014.

While putting a woman in a position of power is significant, Anna Beninger, senior director of research and corporate engagement partner at Catalyst — a “non-profit studying women and work” — told CNN that this move is even more rare.

“Any time a woman brings on another woman, it’s notable. It should be acknowledge, and celebrated.”

Amen to that!

Graphic designer gives Disney Princesses real-life ambitions

Disney princesses can be more than just pretty faces wearing fancy dresses. In fact, they can be whatever they want to be, thanks to the musings of a graphic designer.

According to PopSugar, graphic designer for Simple Thrifty Living Matt Burt decided to give the host of princesses new identities, envisioning them as “empowered boss ladies with successful careers in male-dominated fields.”

In his new depictions, Burt transforms Disney favorites Anna and Elsa into climate change scientists who have “dedicated their careers to studying climate change and presenting accurate, well-sourced information,” says PopSugar, while Belle becomes a university chancellor, thanks to her love of reading — oh, and a doctorate degree.

Other storied princesses were imagined as an animal rights activist (Cinderella), a UN ambassador (Jasmine), a Navy officer (Moana) and even a Title IX lawyer (Mulan).

In short, these ladies are getting down to business to defeat the patriarchy and show that they are much more than just dignitaries.

Obama offers insight on racism and sexism

While Michelle Obama may no longer be the First Lady of the United States, that doesn’t mean she can’t share her wisdom with us anymore.

According to Women in the World, Obama recently opened up about her encounters with racism and sexism before the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th anniversary celebration. Interviewed onstage by WFCO president and CEO Lauren Casteel, Women in the World says Casteel asked Obama “whether she had been hurt by any of the shards from the glass ceiling she smashed by becoming America’s first black first lady.”

Obama then shared that what hurt the most were those insults that were meant to have maximum impact, Women in the World reports, adding that it was only magnified by knowing that her hard work as First Lady was undercut by her skin color. However, Obama noted that the “cuts” she received by shattering that glass ceiling don’t hold her back — and women in general shouldn’t be deterred, either.

“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said. “We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”

May we continue to get up — always.


Talent beyond boundaries

Talent knows no boundaries, so why should awards for outstanding acting performances be confined to specific gender identities? That’s the question that Asia Kate Dillon posed in a recent letter to the Television Academy.

According to Women in the World, Dillon — the non-binary star of the Showtime hit series, “Billions” — wrote a letter to the Television Academy after network executives, wanting to submit their performance for Emmy award consideration, asked which category they wanted to be included in.

That’s when Dillon composed a letter to the Academy, says Women in the World, asking “whether the terms ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ were meant to ‘denote anatomy or identity.'”

“The reason I’m hoping to engage you in a conversation about this is because if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are in fact supposed to represent ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a woman’ and ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a man’ then there is no room for my identity within that award system binary,” Dillon wrote, according to Women in the World. “Furthermore, if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are meant to denote assigned sex I ask, respectfully, why is that necessary?”

The response from the Academy offered that their guidelines allow for anyone to submit their work to any category, and that’s exactly what Dillon did, says Women in the World, choosing to enter the category of ‘best actor’ — a term Dillon found to have a non-gendered history dating back to the 1500s.

Here’s hoping Dillon’s actions are the first of many more inclusive moves to come.

Women’s March on London shows solidarity

It’s easy to show that you care. In fact, sometimes all it takes is holding hands.

That’s exactly what the Women’s March on London did after last week’s terrorist attack in London where four victims died and another 50 were injured, according to Women in the World. Part of the demonstration that took place over the weekend were a “row of Muslim women stood holding hands along Westminster bridge,” there to show that their hearts are with the victims of the tragedy.

All dressed in blue with hands entwined, Women in the World says all those in attendance wore the color “as a symbol of hope and held hands for five minutes as Big Ben struck 4 p.m.” According to CNNthe vigil stemmed from a photo that showed a woman wearing what appears to be an Islamic head covering passing the scene of the attack while looking at her phone, causing some to criticize the unnamed woman.

Thus, the demonstration was about more than just showing solidarity with victims and the city of London; it was about proving that as a people, we are all united. According to Sarah Waseem, a Muslim woman from Surrey, the event meant just that:

“When an attack happens in London, it is an attack on me,” she told The Independent, according to Women in the World. ” It is an attack on all of us. Islam totally condemns violence of any sort. This is abhorrent to us.”


Williams wants women to reach for the stars

Serena Williams didn’t want to just be the best female tennis player in the world; she wanted to be the best. Period.

That’s what the tennis phenom wrote in an open letter published in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue, according to Women in the World. Sharing that she was able to achieve her dreams partly because of the support she received, Women in the World says Williams wrote, “I was fortunate to have a family that supported my dream and encouraged me to follow it.”

However, she knows that not all women have the same support system behind them while some are even discouraged from following their passions. Women in the World reports that for Williams, whether or not to pursue her dreams all boiled down to her resilience.

“What others marked as flaws or disadvantages about myself — my race, my gender — I embraced as fuel for my success,” she wrote. “I never let anything or anyone define me or my potential. I controlled my future.”

Through sharing her story, Williams wrote in her letter that she hopes young women will be inspired to take control of their destinies and “push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience,” because when we continue to dream big, “we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits.”

To read her letter in its entirety, click here.


Flying into history

NASA’s Peggy Whitson may have just taken off on a mission to the International Space Station, but the astronaut isn’t just flying into outer space — she’s flying into history.

According to Women in the World, she became the oldest woman (at the age of 56) to embark on a mission into space on Thursday, Nov. 17, beating out previous record holder Barbara Morgan, who made the journey in 2007 at the age of 55.

But that’s not the only way Whitson made history. She is also “the first woman to ever assume control of the ISS for a second time — in 2007, when Whitson first took control of the space station, she became the first woman ever to do so,” reports Women in the World.

Witnessing her history -making mission were fellow astronauts Oleg Novitskiy of Russia and Thomas Pesquet of France, who Women in the World says represented the European Space agency.


Women win big in Election 2016

There were a lot of firsts in Election 2016 — especially for women being elected to public office. According to Women in the World, “the number of women of color in the U.S. Senate quadrupled with victories in California, Illinois and Nevada.”

Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) won her Senate seat from incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk, reports ELLE. An Iraq War veteran, Duckworth joins Mazie Hirono of Hawaii as one of two Asian-American women in the Senate, says Women in the World. 

But Duckworth wasn’t the only woman to win a Senate seat this election. Women in the World reports that Kamala Harris beat out Loretta Sanchez in California, making her “the first black politician to represent California in the Senate and only the second black woman ever elected to the chamber,” according to ELLE.

Other women elected to Congress in a round of first include Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who ELLE reports became the first Latina elected to the Senate;  Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who Women in the World says became the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress; and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who ELLE says is the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.

Congratulations to all!

Kunis covers gender bias in new essay

As one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood, Mila Kunis is the epitome of a movie star. But according to an essay released by the actress, one producer predicted she’d never make it Tinseltown.

After refusing to pose semi-nude for a men’s magazine cover in order to promote a film, Women in the World says Kunis shared in her essay for A Plus that her producer said she’d “never work in this town again.” While admitting that she used to be accommodating to such requests, Women in the World says she “had to deal with the reality that standing her ground or speaking out could cost her career,” something that Kunis offered all women fear when they are met with gender bias in the workplace.

Left feeling both objectified and angry, Women in the World reports Kunis said the experience of saying “no” made her realize that her prior complacency perpetuated the “boys’ club” mentality that pervades the industry. But once she freed herself from those constraints, she sought to create a workplace where women would not feel such pressure.

Forming her own production company with the help of three other women, Women in the World says the actress “began work to develop shows ‘with unique voices and perspectives.'” While the gender bias followed her to this role — as Women in the World report a producer they were working with referred to her in an email solely as “soon to be Ashton’s wife and baby momma!!!” — the actress says she is “done compromising; even more so, I’m done with being compromised.”

With women all over the world receiving similar treatment, Kunis concluded her essay vowing to use her platform to make other women feel “less alone” in their struggles with sexism.