There seems to be a lot of craziness going on in the world, isn’t there? The media usually leads with a shocking negative story each night and even though I consider myself a generally happy person, it can be difficult to find the silver lining sometimes. In an effort to put more positivity in the world I’m sharing a list of ten women who inspire with their can-do, giving attitudes.
1. Zainab Salbi is an Iraqi American author, women’s rights activist, filmmaker, humanitarian and social entrepreneur. She is also the founder and former CEO of Washington-based Women for Women International. Clearly, she is an amazing woman who answers the calls to help others with unflagging enthusiasm. I found her TED Talk called “Women, War, and the Dream of Peace” recently and her words continue to ring in my ears: “Perhaps by understanding women, and the other side of war …we will have more humility in our discussions of wars…perhaps it is time to listen to women’s side of history.” I think she’s right.
2. Do you believe that women have the power to change the world? The founders of Soko, an online store that connects online consumers to global makers and handcrafted jewelry from the developing world, do. Check out how simple and straightforward the brainchild of founders Ella Peinovich, Gwendolyn Floyd, and Catherine Mahugu is in this short video:
3. Rachael Chong, founder and CEO of Catchafire, is a girl after my own heart. She wants to “leave this earth known as a leader who empowers others to be better than her”. Catchafire, founded in 2009 and based in NYC, is a community of individuals striving to push the social good sector forward by focusing on efficient and effective ways to give back. The way they do this is by matching professionals with nonprofits based on their skills, cause interest and time availability. For example, a non-profit may need the assistance of a graphic designer but not have the funds to hire someone. Meanwhile, a graphic designer may want to help out an organization but their availability is limited or during hours the non-profit doesn’t operate. Catchafire presents the perfect solution for both and everyone wins!
4. Mmmm, wine…Who doesn’t love the idea of enjoying a great wine that also gives back? Wine for the World, created by wine enthusiast/former international development professional Mika Bulmash, is a social enterprise in the wine industry that sells and showcases wine from aspiring winemakers from developing countries who would not otherwise have access to international markets. Bulmash witnessed first-hand the bottlenecks local growers faced in distributing their fantastic wines and had to do something about it, both for them and the consumers who were missing out!
5. Being a mom of two little ones, I may be a just a tad biased here but it is my experience that there is no one stronger, more courageous, or more willing to stand up for what’s right than a mother. Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner must have had the same thought when she founded Moms Rising in 2006. Moms Rising takes on the most critical issues facing women, mothers, and families by educating the public and mobilizing massive grassroots actions. Power in numbers is integral to their effectiveness and if you’d like to join Rowe-Finkbeiner and millions of others in this growing movement (for free) in order to take action on timely issues like health care, flexible work options, paid family leave, child care, living wages, and more, you can sign up here.
6. Whitney sang it best almost 30 years ago when she said, “I believe the children are our future”, which is why I am extremely excited to share Goldieblox founder Debbie Sterling’s TED Talk with you. Sterling, an engineer, and her team’s goal is to “disturb the pink toy aisle” and get girls building. GoldieBlox is a story + construction set that bolsters girls’ confidence in spatial skills while giving the young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things. What stood out most to me during her 17-minute talk was how much pushback she received from investors and toy industry insiders. But she remained determined to see it through. After bringing it to the public via a Kickstarter campaign, the public overwhelmingly supported her idea and GoldieBlox is now a best-selling toy worldwide. I’m proud to say that I donated to Debbie’s Kickstarter campaign and purchased a GoldieBlox set for my niece as soon as the sets hit the shelves.
7. And now, one of my favorite commercials of the year. This one will be hard to beat when it comes to inspiring and motivating.
Watch this the next time you’re told you can’t do something. Get it, Misty Copeland!
8. Behind Give to Get Jobs you’ll find Betsey Epstein and Stacy McCoy, a mother-daughter team, striving to prove you can give back to get paid. Give to Get Jobs is a hub for listings at for-profit companies committed to social responsibility. These ladies walk the talk, too; for every job listing a company buys on their site, they donate a portion of the proceeds to http://seeyourimpact.org/. If you’re currently looking for a new job or know someone who is, this is a great place to start.
9. Have you ever been driving along, having a great day, only to slam HARD into a pothole? In the past, there wasn’t much you could do except curse under your breath and cross your fingers that you didn’t completely destroy your tire. Thanks to Lily Liu, you can now take action via her start-up, PublicStuff. PublicStuff is a mobile-friendly SaaS system that allows citizens to make real-time requests to their local governments for public services. All you have to do is give the location and a short description of the issue and they will then forward it along to the proper city officials. Here’s a glance of the Houston, Texas area for my nearby readers. It’s also a great tool to check out for any late-summer road trips you may have on the calendar.
10. Last but not least, I thought it’d be fun to end this post with three young ladies who, despite their lack of years in the world, have already made a huge difference for others:
Earlier this year, seven year-old Charlotte took issue with the lack of diversity in Lego figurines. And they took note!
In 2007, ten-year-old Maddie was at a loss. She wanted to volunteer but had a lot of trouble finding an organization that had work she could do at such a young age. Not one to give up, she took the initiative to start Maddie’s Blankets, an organization that allows kids and adults alike to make snuggly, warm blankets for rescue operation animals who have nothing but an old pillowcase to sleep on. Thanks to participants and supporters, her organization has expanded to also make comfort blankets for children in foster care and transitional housing situations.
Lauren Hodge has been competing in science fair projects since she was 7 years old. In 2012, she investigated the formation of carcinogens in different methods of preparing chicken — and found a surprising result. That work won first prize in the Google Science Fair’s age 13-14 category which you can watch in this video.
I’d love to hear about more women and girls doing great things in your community! Please share their stories with me here in the comments or on the Positive Force Facebook page.