Why I Love Women Who Walk the Walk
By Cindi Leive
The idea of female empowerment is everywhere in 2015. Pop stars sing about it, late-night hosts swear their devotion to it, ads selling everything from low-fat yogurt to low-interest loans invoke it. This, of course, is a good thing: In an environment where presidential hopefuls put down their female competitors by insulting their looks, I'll take all the empowerment I can get, thanks.
But the women I respect most do more than just use a fierce go-girl lyric as their Twitter bio (though I'm all for that too!). In the November issue you'll hear from dozens of past Glamour Women of the Year—all part of the run-up to the Awards' twenty-fifth anniversary next month. And one thing these trailblazing women share is that they don't just talk the talk about supporting women; they pass bills that help them, create great roles for them, mentor them. In other words, they put their money where their mouth is — $34.5 billion of it in the case of Melinda Gates, who, with her husband Bill, the cofounder of Microsoft, has used their wealth to help eradicate polio and extreme poverty. I had the opportunity to interview Melinda for this issue, and was struck by how unpretentious this global power player is: A self-described "very private person," she is now focusing her foundation's energies on helping women in the developing world gain access to the contraceptives we take for granted in this country. "It was something that needed to be done," she shrugs humbly of this world-changing work.
Gates, and female forces like her, remind me that as important as it is to say "I'm for women!" it's more important to act that way. (Applause is wonderful, notes Laverne Cox, "but it's only part of what needs to happen.") We can all live up to their example. Years ago, Woman of the Year Nora Ephron gave a classic speech at Wellesley College (quoted by Olivia Wilde in this issue): "I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there," Ephron told the women listening. "And I also hope you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women."
Girl power is good. But using your girl — woman — power? That's great.
November 11 is Veterans Day, so for your act of goodness this month, let Jaspen Boothe, 37, an Army vet, inspire you. Boothe lost everything she owned in New Orleans to Hurricane Katrina, but she didn't give up — instead she founded Final Salute Inc., an organization designed to help homeless female veterans like herself find the housing and employment they need. "I took an oath to never leave a fallen comrade behind," Boothe says. "Final Salute is my commitment to that oath." Visit finalsaluteinc.org; just $25 gives a woman a day's worth of food, along with clothing and other crucial support.
More From Glamour:
• Meryl Streep Blasts Popular Film Review Site
• Selena Gomez Reveals She Underwent Chemotherapy for Lupus Diagnosis
• Women and Economic Growth: Why One Strategist Thinks We Are "The Next China"
• Julianne Moore Revealed Her Frizzy, Unstyled Hair on TV and It Was Actually Shocking
Photo Credit: Noam Galai via Getty Images