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An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos, From SWAAY

Lifestyle

Very recently, Jeff Bezos asked people to reply to his tweet with their ideas. Just a few hours later there were more than 3,600 such replies. A few days after that, tens of thousands of replies streamed in as numerous as they are varied. From Girl Scouts of America to funding a solution to the Flint, Michigan water crisis to international causes, the requests proliferated like mushrooms in northern Michigan springtime.


Bezos and his family have donated $35 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and $15 million to Princeton University, his alma mater. Crowdsourcing philanthropic ideas, especially presented in a single post, might lead to flooding. But at least it's a start. So, without further ado, a friendly letter to our friend Jeff is in order:

I'll respect your valuable time and keep this short and sweet: it's time for you to join us on the Feminist Jet as we fly off to visit four worthwhile causes that could greatly benefit from your fiscal intervention.

1. The first stop is Women on Wings. Founded by Maria van de Heijden and Ellen Tacoma in 2007, this organization connects women with entrepreneurs, who employ them and market their crafts, giving poor women living in India an independent income.

As you already know, as an admirer of India, it's a rapidly expanding economy with a population of 700 million people, who mostly still live on just $2 dollars per day. A quick visit to their website will reveal that they have created 221,000 sustainable jobs for women as well as saved 660,000 children from malnutrition, while additionally enrolling them in school.

2. The second stop, Girls on The Run, is dedicated to empowering girls to become healthy and confident young women. The organization achieves this by using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. They envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. GOTR was founded by Molly Barker and thirteen girls in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996.

The following year Barker met Dori Luke and together they expanded programming in Charlotte and other communities. What began as one school is now more than 200 strong in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2015 GOTR served its millionth girl and hosted more than 350 end-of-season 5K events across the United States.

3. Our third stop, Girls Not Brides, is a global partnership of more than 700 civil society organizations from over 90 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential. Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 – the equivalent of 28 girls every minute, or one girl every two seconds.

The first global study on the economic cost of child marriage shows that this human violation also has a major negative impact on national economies.

The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage research, conducted jointly by The World Bank and The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), shows that the biggest economic impacts of child marriage are related to fertility and population growth, education, earnings and the health of children born to young mothers.

The study highlights that investments in ending child marriage can help countries achieve multiple development goals. It explores the impacts of child marriage in five areas: fertility and population growth, educational attainment and learning, labor force participation, decision-making and investments, and health, nutrition and violence. The research found that child marriage could save the global economy trillions of dollars between now and 2030.

4. Our final stop takes you to the doors of SWAAY Media, a ground-breaking digital publication in Manhattan that harnesses the glamour of today's business-minded woman, and was founded by Ms. New York U.S. 2015, Iman Oubou. Offering an editorial platform for business-minded women, SWAAY serves as an innovative example of what female-focused media should embody: intellect, influence and a powerful visual of femininity.

Iman has also worked as a cancer research scientist and is a board member of 'Mission to Heal,' an NGO based in Washington, D.C. Like yourself, Iman boasts an engineering background and chose to pursue other passions.

Whatever you decide to do with your charitable donations, we appreciate you taking the time to invest in a good cause. The world needs more generous people like you.

Warm Regards,

Your friends at SWAAY Media

Culture

Why Whiskey Should No Longer Be Categorized As “A Man’s Drink”

I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"


I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.

In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.

Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.

For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.

Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.

The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.

It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.

While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.

What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.

While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.