We all know how much you should tip a server in a restaurant: 18 to 20 percent is the gold standard across the board. And we’re happy to shell it out because those waiters bring you your food, often offer witty banter, and can tell you which blend of white will go best with your swordfish. But what about for those who are just responsible with getting food to your door? Like a Grubhub or Seamless driver?
While they might not refill your water glass throughout your meal, they’re still always there to bring you a bagel in a snowstorm (no, just me?) or wings for your Super Bowl party.
So do the restaurant rules still apply when your food is brought to your door, not the table? Glamour spoke with Grubhub drivers across the country for their recommendations. Read on for their best delivery service tipping advice.
How Much Grubhub Delivery Drivers Actually Earn
Unlike waiters, they aren’t paid by the restaurants outright. They’re paid by Grubhub—and it’s not based on the size or price of the order. “Grubhub has a $3.50 base [depending on location], plus mileage, any bonuses they’re offering, and tip,” says Curtis, who delivers for Grubhub in Denver. While actual fees can vary based upon the city or state you drive in, an anonymous driver in Rochester, New York shared that he gets paid, “50 cents a mile,” as his mileage rate. It’s also important to note that, “we don’t get paid from where we are to the restaurant, we only get paid from where we are to the diner, so we can drive up to 20 minutes sometimes to pick up the food that we’re not getting paid for,” says the Rochester driver.
But how do tips factor in? Because Grubhub actually accounts for tips in their payment algorithm—they matter a lot. For John William, a driver in Pennsylvania, “about 50 percent of my weekly earnings is from my tips,” he says. So when you go to tip your delivery driver, remember that it’s a huge portion of their overall pay.
They Have Fees You’d Never Think Of
Grubhub drivers don’t simply walk away with the full fee they’re earning. Much like those working for ride-share companies, the majority of a Grubhub driver’s work is done in their own car. So a portion of their paycheck goes back to gas and overall maintenance on their vehicle. Curtis in Denver estimates that he puts 12 percent of his paycheck back into his truck on things like needing, “new tires, oil changes—which can cost up to $25—or needing to have my brakes redone,” he says. And that’s without gas, which depending what kind of car you’re driving, can cost upwards of $50 a week.
Why It Pays to Tip
Something you might not know about Grubhub is that drivers can actually see just how much you’re tipping—before they accept your delivery request. “If you’re only tipping something like 10 or 40 cents, there are drivers that will open that order, see it, and reject it,” Curtis says. “It will get bounced over to another driver until somebody is willing to deliver it. Some drivers will even purposely hold the order before they re-assign it.” The Rochester driver has heard similar stories, “I’ve gotten orders that are already an hour late because they’ve gone through so many drivers who don’t want to pick it up because it wasn’t worth it. Or the order will just get canceled,” he explains. So if you want your food before it turns cold, you better tip generously. They’re watching.
What You Should Be Tipping
For the majority of orders, you should be tipping about 20 percent. Curtis advises, “if it’s a large order, and I’m going to a place like Outback Steakhouse and picking up $100 worth of food, 20 percent would be nice,” he says. But a lot of the orders he delivers are from fast food places, with a much smaller price tag. “Twenty percent on a Taco Bell delivery would be less than $2, so for smaller orders, around a $3 tip or so would be what I’d expect.” Also, if you live in a major city, not all delivery people drive—many bike or walk. So if the weather is atrocious or your order is a far distance to deliver, you should really consider giving more than the standard 20 percent. The more of a convenience it is for you should mean more of a tip for them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to tip in cash—which is totally acceptable—make sure to write it in the notes. “[Grubhub users] think they can give a cash tip, but if we’re not told, and just see we’re not getting the tip, we won’t do the order,” the Rochester driver says.
Just because they’re not waiting on your for the duration of the meal doesn’t mean they’re not doing a similar service, so tip them like you would any other waiter—they deserve it.
This story is part of Glamour‘s guide to tipping. Tips are approximate and based on varying factors. Learn more about how much to give in this seven-part series.
Not to mention, gifts for your inner circle isn’t even scratching the surface of what’s socially acceptable, according to etiquette expert Myka Meier. Your doorman, dry cleaner, and superintendent (i.e. all of the people who make your life easier year-round) should be feeling the spirit of giving once a year too. Meier, a British-American who was trained by a former member of the Queen’s Household, says, “We tip people usually who provide a service, so you can think through which services you use regularly and decide who you may want to give a tip to.”
That might seem overwhelming, but international etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer has an easy way to figure out your list. “Tip people who have been especially loyal,” she says. “In other words, for those of us who have pets, children, parents, or grandparents, if there is someone who has done consistent care for you and those treasured ones on a regular basis, during the holidays is when you want to express your appreciation for that.”
Your list should be catered to your life so think about yourself, the people in your life, and reflect on who’s really helped you this year. The people you can really count on should be at the very top of your list. Schweitzer’s dog walker is an example. “They walk our golden retriever and if something happens when we’re out of town, they’ll also take our pet to the emergency room. At the end of the year, because of their loyalty and the special things they do, we’re going to give them an extra gratuity because of the things they’ve done [beyond what’s expected].”
Before you start to stress, everyone’s financial situation is unique, so there are things to consider before you run to the closest ATM. “You should only tip what you can afford,” Meier says. “If your overall budget to tip is $150, make a list of everyone you want to tip, then break your budget down into amounts next to each person’s name until you know how much each will receive. This will also ensure you don’t go over budget.”
Shweitzer encourages people to go above and beyond and “give crisp, new dollar bills and put them in a nice card or a bank envelope. Write a handwritten note that expresses why you’re giving it to them and what it is that you truly appreciate. Even if it’s a short two sentences.”
Meier adds, if you really don’t have the extra funds, a nice card or a batch of freshly baked cookies are just as meaningful as pure cash.
Keep in mind that tipping amounts vary from state to state, says Schweitzer, who’s based in Texas. “What people tip in New York is going to differ from Dallas or Seattle,” she says. “The cost of living is different. Every state and every locale has different customs and different standards of living.” With all of that in mind, here’s a helpful list you can apply to your life to get started.
Nanny, babysitters, caregivers: one week’s pay
Building super: $25 to $100
Doormen: $25 to $100. But be sure to ask your management if there’s a tipping pool if you have more than one doorman. “Many large buildings will ask that all tips be put into a pot and split evenly,” Meier says. “If you have five doormen and have a great relationship with two, you can tip them slightly more than the others.”
Housekeeper: $25 to $100
Mail carrier/package courier: $10 to $30
Car park attendant: $20 to $50
Weekly help; i.e. trash collector, newspaper distributor, gardener, or dog walker: $10 to $30
For legal and ethical reasons, you shouldn’t tip government workers, doctors, or teachers. (See Schweitzer’s website for a full breakdown). But that doesn’t mean you can’t show them your appreciation in some other non-monetary way. Schweitzer, for instance, sends all of her doctors fruit baskets every year. And while you might feel the urge to tip delivery people for working so hard this time of year, check the policy on the company’s website before you do so, Schweitzer says.
Now that you’ve got all of that down, the timing of when to tip is also important. Meier says, the second week of December is ideal. “It’s a nice thing to be able to let someone take the money they earned in tips and put that toward their holiday shopping,” she says. Schweitzer says it’s still socially acceptable to wait until New Years, but really “the sooner, the better. You do not want to wait.”
This story is part of Glamour‘s guide to tipping. Tips are approximate and based on varying factors. Learn more about how much to give in this seven-part series.
Sometimes I feel like I spend half of my life in an Uber (and my recent history on the app might just confirm that). And I’m not the only one. The ever-popular ride-sharing company, which launched in 2009, is now in nearly all 50 states, the majority of U.S. cities, and is creating hubs in more and more countries. But while I can barely remember a time before I wasn’t using Uber—tipping your driver only became an option as of June 2017, (unless you were already giving your drivers a cash bonus, which in that case, props to you).
When tipping became a function on the Uber app, I, for one, was confused. Was it optional? Should I tip on all my rides? Is the amount based on distance, or how much I like my driver? Over a year and a half later, many of us are still plagued with these same questions.
So to shed some light on how much you should really be giving, Glamour spoke with Uber drivers across the country to find out. Read on for their real-life advice.
What Uber Drivers Actually Make
According to Market Watch, the Uber payment breakdown goes like this: On average, Uber drivers typically collect $24.77 per hour in passenger fares. From there, Uber takes $8.33 in commissions and fees, which is about a third of the fares. Now, you have to factor in gas (you know, the fuel that lets the driver get you from point A to point B). It’s been reported that gas and other maintenance fees cost drivers about $4.87 an hour—leaving them with an average total of $11.77 for their work.
Sarah, a Denver-based driver, has made between $20,000 to $31,000 per year working for Uber about 40 hours per week—but she makes sure to underscore that how much you’re making has many variables: “I moved from Houston to Denver, where trip requests seem to be more consistent,” says Sarah. “I’m not putting as many miles on my car given that Denver is a smaller city. I made around $500 per week in Houston at 45+ hours per week. Here in Denver, I make closer to $800 per week at 30 hours per week.” The majority of a driver’s pay is coming from Uber itself, not a drivers’ tips. For Ann in St. Louis, and many other drivers, only “5 percent or less” of her earnings come from tips.
How Uber Drivers Spend Their Hard-Earned Money
Uber drivers aren’t given a car to drive, an unlimited credit card for gas, or a stipend for maintenance fees. When people choose to drive for Uber, they’re using a personal car—and taking all responsibilities for any wear or tear to the vehicle.
As detailed in the average driver’s payment breakdown above, you have to factor in roughly $4.87 an hour toward things like gas and maintenance. So how much are people really spending on these fees? Roger, who drives in upstate New York, estimates that “25 percent of what I make goes to gas and vehicle expenses. For the drivers who have older vehicles, which require more repair [than mine], it could even be more,” he says.
Have you ever enjoyed some “perks” on your ride? Like water, gum, or a phone charger? Uber isn’t shelling out any extra cash to make your ride more enjoyable. Those treats come from the drivers themselves. Faith in Chicago factors in, “$2 to $5 for a case of water, which can often total $20 a month, plus $20 monthly for candy, and about $30 a month on WiFi for the car, not to mention gas fees and oil changes,” she says.
How Much to Tip Your Uber Driver
Most Uber drivers are tipped infrequently—something they’re desperately hoping will change. Data from Uber shows that the most common trips to tip on are airport rides, highly rated drivers with great interactions, as well as weekend and night trips. Yves in Chicago has also found that she’s most likely to be tipped on rides, “to and from the airport, or business people early in the morning.” Sarah in Denver has noticed an uptick in tipping when it comes to, “rides with multiple stops, especially ones requiring me to wait for them,” she says. But it’s not enough.
Uber drivers hope that riders will start to consider Uber tipping to be on par with what you tip others in the service industry. “We tip at least 15 percent to waiters and waitresses, ride-share drivers are using their own vehicles, paying to keep them maintained and cleaned better than most cars on the road, so 15 percent should be the default tip percentage,” says Valerie in Georgia. Zuwena, who drives in Portland, Oregon, also agrees with this: “I’d love if people tipped their drivers like in other service industries for good service. I always tip my server, bartender, or taxi driver 18 percent, and Uber is no different,” she says.
Drivers also acknowledge that because the ride prices are often so low—sometimes a percentage like 18 percent won’t amount to enough. So you can also think on some flat fees like, “If the car is clean, ride is safe and they are catered to with phone chargers, and music options, then $5 would be nice for a trip more than 5 to 10 miles. $3 for short trips [is good],” says Stacy in Texas.
So even if you’re in an Uber pool, and your ride is $4—80 cents isn’t going to cut it. Be fair to the person in the driver’s seat.
This story is part of Glamour‘s guide to tipping. Tips are approximate and based on varying factors. Learn more about how much to give in this seven-part series.
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s “marital bliss” continues, this time with an outdoor movie night. While most of us were ordering sad takeout and watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, the newly-married Chopra and Jonas took in a screening of Elf on an outdoor projection screen in the coziest backyard ever. Whose backyard were they even in? Chopra’s? Jonas’? The catalog for a ski resort? Who knows! All I know is their little date looked both snuggly and luxe AF.
This was, apparently, Chopra’s first time watching Elf. Before you climb aboard the “How has she never seen Elf?” train, remember that Priyanka Chopra is an international movie star, one-time pop queen, and former Miss World titleholder. She doesn’t have the space in her calendar to watch old Will Ferrell movies. She’s too busy being iconic.
Jonas lovingly (and secretly) captured Chopra’s expressions while watching *Elf * for the first time, and they were adorable, naturally. At one point she starts singing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” completely unaware that Jonas is filming. At another she’s audibly gasping, and Jonas is cracking up. It’s honestly so sweet and reminds me that I’m very, very single.
As if Jonas and Chopra’s post-wedding selfie didn’t remind me of that yesterday. “Marital bliss they say,” Chopra captioned a cuddly pic of herself and Jonas.
What pop-culture things can Chopra now introduced Jonas to, though? Has he seen the full music video and choreography for her song “Exotic?” Put that up on the big screen after Elf wraps, you two. That is a work of art and deserves to be seen by the masses.
Glitter nail polish: so pretty to look at, such a pain to put on. Anyone who’s used nail polish at least once in their life there know this struggle. Getting a perfect application that doesn’t come out gloopy, patchy, uneven, or take hours to dry can feel nearly impossible. And let’s not even talk about the removal process.
So it was like fate that I stumbled upon this glitter-nails video on YouTube. I wasn’t expecting it to change my life (as so many tutorials promise to do), but after trying it, I’m pretty confident this sorcery will both shock and mesmerize you. Now, if you’re a nail technician, you might already know this trick. But for the at-home-manicure-challenged, you’re going to want to keep reading.
The secret? If you paint on glitter nail polish as you would any other color in your collection, you’re doing it wrong. At least according to nail vlogger Kelli Marissa. But the good news is, if you want it to look as good and intensely glittery as it does in the bottle, she’s got an epic tip for you.
Here’s the breakdown from her video.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 1. A base coat 2. Liquid latex (optional, but recommended) 3. Your favorite glitter nail polish (scroll down below for our favorites!) 4. A cosmetic sponge5. A top coat
1. Apply your base coat as normal.
2. Line the skin around your nails with liquid latex so it won’t get covered in polish.
3. Apply the glitter nail polish of your choice onto the edge of a makeup sponge.
4. Dab the sponge onto your nail. (FYI, this is where the real trick lies. The sponge soaks up most of the actual nail polish leaving just the glitter behind, so it goes on dense and opaque in one fell swoop.)
5. Peel off the liquid latex.
6. Apply your top coat so the glitter doesn’t chip off as easily.
Mind = blown. Watch the full (completely brilliant) how-to here:
Looking for the perfect glitter nail polish? Check out a few of our favorites below.
So what does that actually mean? That movies starring women are good for business. Plain and simple.
Of course we didn’t need a survey to tell us that. All we have to do is look at the box office, where women have been killing it. Take some of the best and buzziest of the past year. Whether it was this summer’s boundary pushing rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, the Oscar favorite A Star Is Born, or the impossibly fun Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, women dominated. And made bank.
This survey doesn’t even account for all the other places we watch movies outside of the theater, like Netflix. This summer the streaming service helped revitalize the romantic comedy genre by releasing several female-driven rom-coms, including everyone’s favorites To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Set It Up, and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. These movies proved that people truly want to watch movies about women—no matter the platform.
CAA’s study also found that films that passed the Bechdel test—which measures where two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man—outperformed those that failed it. But in spite of this, women accounted for only around a quarter of sole protagonists in the top 2017 films and only played about a third of major characters.
So listen up, Hollywood: Not only are women good for business—we mean business.
When dinner conversations turn to cryptocurrency, as they often do these days, I brace for a grilling, because I’ve been a reporter covering the topic for six years. “Do you own any?” “Is it too late to get rich?” “What’s the next big coin?” The answer is always the same: I’m neither an investor nor a financial adviser. (So no, I’m not going to tell you whether to buy or sell either.)
But the main reason I won’t give you advice is that, to me, the price tag on a digital coin is its most boring feature. What’s most fascinating about cryptocurrencies is they don’t care who you are. Be you a man, woman, person of color, trans, someone with bad credit, someone with no credit—if you can log on to a computer and push the right buttons, you can send money just like anyone else. That accessibility is a big part of what makes this technology such a breakthrough. There’s no gatekeeper.
That’s all possible because of how these currencies are built: Cryptocurrency transactions are processed and recorded by peer-to-peer networks—not any one individual, bank, or government. These networks get around relying on those institutions by putting to work a group of people on the network called miners. In the case of Bitcoin, for example, thousands of those miners are competing at this very moment to process a bunch of transactions and add them to a record called the blockchain. That competition is really a race to solve a series of cryptographic puzzles—the first one to make it across the finish line gets rewarded with a handful of new Bitcoins, hot off the minting press. Those entries in the blockchain record are then verified by other people on the network.
Think about that for a second: a group of strangers working together to secure a global currency and payment system without the authority of any formal institution. That’s technologically astounding. It’s also completely changing how we use money, because a lot of things happen when banks and governments are not making all the rules. Suddenly borders, time zones, and working hours become irrelevant. You can send a payment anywhere in the world at any time and have it go through, generally, within minutes—you don’t need permission from your bank, you don’t need to go through a company like PayPal or Venmo.“There’s a massive opportunity here to change the global financial structure, to change a lot of ways that society interacts with technology,” says Elizabeth Stark, the CEO of Lightning Labs, which, in March, released an early version of much anticipated software that is designed to make Bitcoin transactions faster, cheaper, and more private. “And it is crucially important that women participate.”
This new financial world started out much like the old one did: male and white. In the early days of Bitcoin, for example, miners were disproportionately men who racked up much of the wealth. When it came time for these lucky few to reinvest in cryptocurrency development, the teams they built reflected the original gender disparity.
Stories of sudden wealth followed, solidifying a stereotype of what leaders in cryptocurrency looked like. “A lot of people say to me, ‘Why do you think there’s not a lot of women in Bitcoin, in blockchain?’” says Connie Gallippi, the founder of BitGive, the first nonprofit in Bitcoin. “I say, ‘Actually, there are. They’re just not given the same level of exposure or recognition.’ That’s the problem.”
Tavonia Evans, who worked in the tech industry for nearly 20 years before launching her own cryptocurrency, called $Guap, sees those women too and says they’re raising the bar because of how they’ve been held back in the past. “The crypto market is highly competitive at the moment with people fighting for influence,” she says. “The men I’ve observed vying for influence are not very tech-savvy at all. Women in tech, however, tend to overachieve, study more, and expand their expertise legitimately just so they can get in this space.”
Perhaps that’s why they’re filling some of the top posts in cryptocurrency: Amber Baldet helped lead the Blockchain Center of Excellence at J.P. Morgan for more than two years; Elizabeth Rossiello founded a foreign exchange and payment platform in Africacalled BitPesa; Galia Benartzi cofounded Bancor, a liquidity protocol that makes it easier to convert cryptocurrencies. And you can expect to hear more from these leaders, in part because they want women to get credit for the work they’re doing, which, Gallippi points out, can motivate more women to get involved.
Baldet, who has spent a lot of her time in tech working with at-risk populations, stresses how having someone at the design table who represents the people who are going to use the technology can sometimes even be a matter of life or death. “Women, I’ve found, are quick to postulate scenarios that unfortunately often hit close to home, like how GPS location sharing or an emailed receipt might disclose sensitive activity to an abusive partner,” she says. “Later those same privacy features might make someone love your app because you kept them from accidentally ruining a surprise party. Diversity in development isn’t about a numbers game. It’s about filling in each other’s blind spots to build a safer, more useful product for everybody.”
Designing these applications to be attractive to women is also just good business, says Meltem Demirors, who recently left her post as a vice president at Digital Currency Group, a cryptocurrency- and blockchain-focused investment firm that she helped launch in 2015. She notes that 80 percent of consumer spending in the U.S. is influenced by women. Not making these currencies work for women would mean “missing out on the biggest concentration of wealth,” she says. “It’s women who control money in this world.”
A New Cryptocurrency Club
This generation of female entrepreneurs, having watched men own the tech space, is intent on keeping the playing field level. They insist that closing the gender gap will result in a more inclusive technology.
Gallippi, of BitGive, immediately noticed that cryptocurrency conferences had almost exclusively all-male speaker lineups. “It just drove me insane,” she says. So she began to compile a list of women in the space that she sent to conference organizers, urging them to draw more heavily from female talent. Even today when she attends panels, “very often I’m the only woman or one of the very few women speaking,” she says. Women, Gallippi says, should have a seat at the table. “They should be up in front of people, and that would draw more women in.”
Other powerful women in the field have used their influence to pull women up the ranks. “I just brought on a female board member. I specifically went out there and said, ‘I’m looking for a female,’” says Rossiello, of BitPesa, a service that has operations across Africa, as well as in the U.K. and Europe, that allows users to make business payments and buy and sell Bitcoins from their mobile phones. “I think being that bold is important to change the cycle.”
A new network is forming among these women, all of whom talk of the others in glowing, supportive terms. “Wealth in our world is unfortunately still synonymous with power,” says Demirors. “So if we want to see women in power, let’s help each other create wealth and let’s redeploy that wealth into helping other women grow amazing businesses. It’s not hard to foster more diversity. Empower women, hire them, give them capital. We are in the middle of one of the largest wealth-creation cycles of this decade, if not this century.” And she wants to make sure women don’t miss out.
As Stark sees it, blockchain technologies today are analogous to the early days of the Internet. “Women need to be building this new frontier,” she says. “There’s way too much of the prior generation of the Internet that was not built by a diverse group of people.” Recently we’ve seen how a diet of all-white-male test data can lead to bias in artificial intelligence, overlooking people of color, for example. “I want to see broader participation,” says Stark, “broader perspectives contributing to better problem-solving.”
Thanks to the women on the front lines, the industry may just have a shot at getting things right this time.
Morgen Peck, a freelance technology writer, has been covering cryptocurrency since 2011.
Two hundred and thirty-two million dollars. That’s how much money poured into a cryptocurrency project called Tezos during a public crowdsale last July. At the time, it was a record-setting number. Kathleen Breitman, the co-founder and CEO of Tezos who developed most of the company’s protocol, had expected to raise about one tenth that amount, and when she got the news, it floored her. Literally.
“I was prostrate with anxiety. It was terrible,” she remembers.
Months earlier, Breitman had left a cushy job as the senior strategy associate at R3, a company that’s exploring blockchain use for the world’s biggest banks. Always an admirer of entrepreneurs, Breitman had decided to become one herself. So she boldly set off to pursue an idea that she and her husband, Arthur Breitman, had been buffing and polishing for years.
The inspiration for Tezos came from watching the glacial pace at which Bitcoin evolves. With Bitcoin, the first decentralized currency, it’s really hard to get the right people to agree to make changes to the software. Some people say this is a feature not a bug, that one of the great benefits of Bitcoin is that you can be sure the fundamental rules of the currency—how many bitcoins there are and how often new ones are created, for example—will never change. But, as a result, most innovations make their debuts on other cryptocurrencies.
This is the problem that Tezos seeks to avoid, and it does so by giving everyone who owns coins in the system, called “tezzies,” voting power on upgrades to the network. Imagine if owning an iPhone gave you some say in how Apple the company was run. And imagine if there was an automated way for you to push your proposals through the company. This is kind of what Tezos attempts to achieve.
While it was Kathleen’s husband Arthur who first came up with the idea for Tezos, refining it and pushing it out to the public quickly became a team effort. “Arthur’s the brains. I’m the brawn,” says Breitman.
Over the last nine months, her brawn has proved to be a crucial asset. The money raised in July brought with it a slew of problems and the project has weathered a parade of setbacks. First came a series of lawsuits against the Breitmans, their company, and the Tezos Foundation, which was set up to promote and foster the use of the Tezos blockchain. Then came a bitter public feud with the president of the foundation. It’s that organization, not the Breitmans, that gets to choose how to spend the money from the crowdsale. With the foundation in disarray, payments to the development team stalled.
Breitman, who had just turned 27 when her plans started to unravel, remembers feeling overwhelmed. “I felt a tremendous sense of injustice that the funds aren’t being used for what they should be used for,” she recalls.
Then something dawned on the couple. “My husband and I just sat down and said, it’s just a game,” says Breitman. As in: It is only the end result that matters. With this perspective, Breitman says she was able to let go of what could or should happen in a perfectly just (but non existent) universe, and focus entirely on the original goal of making Tezos work in this universe.“We just have to ship this code and just play the game,” says Breitman.
Today, Breitman may be slightly closer to winning. One lawsuit was dismissed, and one is pending, the board of the Tezos Foundation has been restructured, and technical development is once more underway, with the Tezos team aiming to have a product ready by summer.
For some, inspiration comes when they’re driving on an open highway. For some, it happens as the brain slowly shifts toward sleep. But for Connie Gallippi, the lightning bolt of creativity struck while she was washing her hands in the bathroom at a Bitcoin conference in San Jose, California in 2013. The technology was still relatively niche, but at the conference center nearly everyone was treating it like the next dot com boom. “It was magical. And I just caught that energy,” says Gallippi. And that day in the bathroom, Gallippi decided that the Bitcoin community needed a philanthropic organization—and that she was going to be the person to run it. “Nothing like that’s ever happened to me before. It was like this vision that came to me,” recalls Gallippi.
The vision arrived complete with a name: BitGive. When Gallippi set up a foundation two months later, that’s the name she would use. If Bitcoin was going to usher in the next massive tech explosion, she reasoned, the people making their fortunes should have an easy way to share that wealth responsibly. “I said, you guys have to have a foundation that is giving back,” says Gallippi. “Because this is going to be huge. And if you can just siphon off a fraction of what’s going to happen here and use it to give back, that would be amazing.”
Today, BitGive is the number one place to go if you own Bitcoin and want to donate some of your digital cash to charity. Over the last five years, the organization has worked with some of the most well-known international relief efforts, such as Medic Mobile and Save the Children, helping them to add Bitcoin to their donation streams and running fundraising campaigns aimed at people in the Bitcoin community.
Gallippi started BitGive because she thought something new, with the scale of the dot com boom, should have a philanthropic arm. Her vision was like a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but instead of being an arm for one company, it would be for the entire industry. If that goal wasn’t big enough, she has recently set her sights much higher. A new platform on the BitGive website, called GiveTrack, leverages Bitcoin technology to hold charities more accountable for the donations they receive. Because Bitcoin publicly records every transaction ever made in the system, GiveTrack can use that record to show people who make donations exactly where their money is spent.
GiveTrack launched in October and is still being tested. But Gallippi hopes it will eventually help organizations doing good work to share that and meet higher accountability standards—inherently pressuring others to raise their game. “The idea is to build trust with donors and increase impact through more donor engagement,” she says. “Transparency is one way to do that.”
There may be no woman who better exemplifies the international reach and relevance of the cryptocurrency revolution than Elizabeth Rossiello. Originally a native of Queens, New York, Rossiello has lived all over the world and is now raising her two daughters in Dakar, Senegal, with her French husband. Meanwhile, she is running one of the most widely known companies in the cryptocurrency space. BitPesa, which she started in 2013 at the age of 31, uses Bitcoin and blockchain technology to make it easier and faster to make payments between African currencies and the rest of the world.
“How do you run a finance company when you’re not in Hong Kong or London or New York?” says Rossiello. “That’s what crypto does. It lets you build these really cool, connected things from anywhere. And I’ve proven that with this company.”
Bitcoin, with its high-speed, low-cost and low barrier to use borderless payment network, provided the financial infrastructure to allow BitPesa to enter the market and scale-up. But building the company itself took a fair amount of toil and grit.
Rossiello made the decision to do so after years of working in finance. In 2012, while pregnant with her second child, she was pursuing consultant work, but found it difficult to get a full-time contract—despite having deep experience in risk analysis and microfinance, and an impressive list of previous employers including Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. “Nobody would hire me because I was a pregnant woman with a small child and the work would involve frequent travel and long hours. I was losing jobs to people who had less experience,” she says.
Meanwhile, people in the industry were still taking her to lunch and picking her brain for advice. They valued her advice, Rossiello realized, and she was giving it away for free. “So, I was like F this. I’m starting my own company,” she says.
Rossiello was introduced to Bitcoin and quickly realized both its similarities and improvements over mobile money, with which she was very familiar. In Kenya, where she was living at the time, people have been using a service called M-Pesa to make payments on their phone for years. “You don’t bring your wallet anywhere. You just bring your phone and you can pay ten cents for a tomato, or a thousand dollars for a plane ticket or your kid’s tuition for a semester,” says Rossiello. “Bitcoin was just one more iteration of that.”
One of Rossiello’s former associates from her consulting days provided some seed funding for BitPesa, and the company really took off after a series-A round of funding in which billionaire investor Tim Draper threw his hat in the ring. “It was like a magnet. The ball just started rolling and it hasn’t really stopped,” says Rossiello.
BitPesa is now in seven African countries, Europe, and the U.K. By helping people in frontier markets accept and make payments in their local currencies, the company makes it possible for businesses to grow faster and enter new markets that would have been too expensive or difficult before. She is also making sure the offices of BitPesa represent the communities where they are located. Of the 70 team members now working for BitPesa, more than 70 percent are African. And half are women.
When Tavonia Evans came up with the idea for the new cryptocurrency, $GUAP, the first people she told about it were her sons Saadiq, 20, and Errick Jr., nine. And it makes sense that she would start the pitch right in her own family, because ultimately, that’s who she wants to see using her coins. $GUAP is specifically designed to serve black consumers and to reward spending behaviors that keep the money circulating in an ecosystem of black-owned businesses.
“We want to raise the value of our monetary contribution in society. We want to elevate that. We want to highlight that,” says Evans.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the single mother of eight and a self-professed data nerd says she sees two serious problems with the position of black consumers in the modern economy. One: They don’t get nearly enough credit for their spending power. Although black consumers spend $1.2 trillion every year, companies often underestimate how much their brands depend on black consumers, and are therefore less inclined to reinvest their profits in those communities, explains Evans. And two: The money that does make it into black communities, she argues, doesn’t stay there long enough because people just aren’t spending it where they live.
Evans has an ambitious plan to solve both these problems. The $GUAP currency exists as a set of 10 billion tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. A seven-member startup team is now disbursing a portion of those tokens in a crowdsale. According to Evans, the money raised in the sale, as well as the remaining tokens, will be used, in part, to build a network of $GUAP-accepting merchants in the black community and to reward consumers for spending money at those businesses, kind of like a typical credit card rewards program.
But Evans, who has spent 20 years in the technology industry and has one startup and multiple software development jobs already behind her, is primarily excited about using $GUAP to illustrate the power of black consumers. Because the tokens live on a public blockchain, all $GUAP transactions will be available for analysis, providing a rare glimpse into the way black consumers are spending their money. “We want to be able to capture that data and use it for our benefit,” says Evans. “It’s just unclaimed data. It’s just sitting out there waiting for somebody to just come in and claim it and say, okay we’re going to leverage this.”
For any of this to work, Evans must first convince people to use $GUAP. Which is why most of her effort has gone to explaining to people what a cryptocurrency is and how it works. “With the market that we’re representing, we have to work doubly hard to educate people,” says Evans.
Evans has sought to promote the cryptocurrency in a way that speaks to the black community, starting with the choice of name, which is slang for a whole-lotta-cash. “When they hear ‘GUAP’ they know it’s money. So that’s half the battle,” says Evans. “Now we get to explain the cryptocurrency part of it. But we’ve already opened the door.”
If her nine-year-old son is any indication, the idea has a natural appeal. The first question Errick Jr. asked was, “can I have some?”
Tess Rinearson, 24, isn’t shy about telling you she’s a college dropout. After studying computer science at University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University, Rinearson was offered an engineering job at the tech startup Medium during her sophomore year. She jumped at the chance to move to San Francisco—and never looked back.
But living near Silicon Valley isn’t what led her to cryptocurrency. That journey started on a ski trip with friends to Lake Tahoe in 2015. She almost didn’t go—she still doesn’t know how to ski—but decided she’d like a weekend away. When she boarded the bus to make the trek, she happened to sit next to a fellow engineer. He talked her ear off about Bitcoin and its game-changing aspects, and by the time the bus pulled up to the mountain she’d decided to go all in on trying to land a job at Chain, a company that partners with other companies and organizations like Visa, Nasdaq, and Citigroup to build blockchain networks for their financial services. “I was like, I don’t want the next financial system to be designed by only white, libertarian leaning men,” she explains. “There was a little bit of, I want to help write this story too.”
She got that job, and as an engineering manager at the company, she’s specifically involved in developing a product called Sequence—which takes the blockchain technology and securely puts it in the cloud. There are currently 23 people working at Chain, only six of whom are women. Rinearson understands the male-dominated culture of both finance and tech can lead some women to shy away from jumping into the industry, so she’s made it her mission to get more women involved—starting with high schoolers. She’s collaborated with Girls Who Code to teach them about Bitcoin. (“The girls totally got it,” she says. “By the end of it they knew what was going on with Bitcoin far more than the investment bros who can dominate the space.”) And later taught a program at the MIT Media Lab that introduced college students from underrepresented backgrounds to blockchain technology. Rinearson is also making all things crypto more accessible: She keeps a blog on Medium and has even created a Bitcoin explainer guide featuring poop and baby cherub emojis.
Since cryptocurrency is such a male-dominated industry, outside of work Rinearson searches for female camaraderie in her extracurricular activities—and she’s found it in kettlebell competitions, sometimes hitting the gym to train. “It’s a really weird niche sport. It’s literally how many times can you lift like 8 kgs or 12 kgs over your head in 10 minutes without stopping, so it’s an endurance event,” she explains. “But I do it, in part because there’s a ton of women involved and it’s fun to be in this space with these literally strong women.”
Meltem Demirors is a passionate, outspoken advocate for the cryptocurrency revolution. She’s also savvy enough to ignore the hype. If you ever meet her, prepare to be schooled on how to buy, trade and safely store cryptocurrencies. (She’ll have you up and running in five minutes!) But, also be prepared for a lesson about how corrupt and scam-ridden the cryptocurrency world has become. “I think most of us got into crypto because we believed it would change existing power structures in our world,” she says. However, “it’s become so dominated and driven by greed. And that’s not why I got involved.”
Indeed, to those who watch the space closely, there seems to be no shortage of ways to lose all your money in the blink of an eye, be it by investing in a sham startup or unwittingly sending everything you own to a hacker. But this sad state of affairs has not pushed Demirors away from cryptocurrency. If anything, it’s pushing her to fix it. First she was the VP of development at Digital Currency Group, a venture capital company she helped launch that invests exclusively in cryptocurrency and blockchain projects. She’s used her platform as an industry leader to talk about the need for diversity and inclusion in the cryptocurrency space, a subject that is close to her heart—and one that runs in the family. Demirors’ mother came from extreme poverty in her native Turkey, and now runs a charity there that funds the education of underprivileged women. (They are now working together to try to figure out how to incorporate cryptocurrency into the organization.)
Since early 2017, Demirors has published a blog called Leaders Series in which she interviews thought leaders (all of whom happen to be female) in cryptocurrency and calls attention to their work. Those conversations were one of the motivating factors behind her decision to launch her own firm, Athena Capital, last fall. The new firm is focused on investing in products and services that improve usability and access to digital currencies. “Instead of sitting here and complaining about it,” meaning the lack of women and people of color in cryptocurrency, “I’m going to actually go and do something,” Demirors says. In the past, she says, she has felt undermined or underestimated. “So I’m going to go out on my own and create the type of company and the type of environment and the type of ecosystem that I want to participate in,” she says. “It’s not hard to foster more diversity. Empower women, hire them, give them capital.”
As she sets out on her new venture, bad actors in the space would be foolish to expect any mercy from Demirors. “I’m going to go break some shit,” she says.
The very idea of cryptocurrency was to get around traditional institutions—banks and governments that have been the financial gatekeepers for decades—and create an entirely new payment system. So it’s somewhat ironic that when Bitcoin gained widespread attention Amber Baldet would be working at J.P. Morgan, one of the very banks that Bitcoin was designed to disrupt. Even more remarkable: how much she managed to achieve there. With Baldet as the lead of its Blockchain Center of Excellence, J.P. Morgan has asserted itself as one of the first banks to take blockchain technology seriously, and one of the few to release working software.
Baldet first heard about Bitcoin in 2011 from friends in the information security industry, long before J.P. Morgan would make a name for itself as a pioneer in the space. “I initially thought cryptocurrency would remain the niche of hackers and cypherpunks,” Amber Baldet admits. Nevertheless, its tech advancements stayed on her radar. And when conversations about blockchain technology finally began to bubble up at work, Baldet was ready to answer questions.
“I’ve always been the person that has the contrarian viewpoint in the room,” says Baldet. “So, it wasn’t very different to be at J.P. Morgan and talking to people about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology before it was a cool thing to do. I worked on finding common ground.”
After eight years at the bank, Baldet recently left to start a company of her own developing software for businesses exploring blockchain. And many in the industry are betting on her to, yet again, defy expectations. In the nine years since Bitcoin was invented, blockchain technology and the communities working on it have splintered in competition. Tribes have formed and dogmas have been formulated. Baldet has the depth of knowledge and range of experience to reach across those cultural borders, in part because she adheres to few borders in her own life. As a mother, a gamer, a marathon runner, a spoken word artist, and a frequent speaker at hacker conferences, it seems there is no limits to Baldet’s interest and ambition.
“The work I did at J.P. Morgan exposed me to a breadth of perspectives,” she says, from investment banks to central banks to startups to hardcore blockchain developers. “Adding my own network of information security and hacker types, I have a relatively unique view on where we are going.”
For now, details about her new company are still under wraps, as Baldet has yet to make a formal announcement, but she promises the work she is doing will reach beyond the initial goals of Bitcoin. The potential she sees in blockchain technology is far more ambitious and she’s convinced that decentralized monetary systems could be a force for social good. “The Internet of Value is just beginning to take shape, and it isn’t just about peer to peer payments,” she says. “We’re redefining how businesses and governments engage with each other, global citizens, and consumers. Building ethical, secure, scalable systems that work in the real world is a huge responsibility and I can’t wait to share what we’re working on.”
Disruption is in Galia Benartzi’s blood. Born in Palo Alto, to Israeli immigrant parents, she had a front-row seat to the rise of the tech boom. So it comes as no surprise that soon after graduating from Dartmouth, Benartzi, 35, co-founded a social gaming company for smartphones, called Mytopia. But in 2010, when she and her partners sold the company, “the guys bought fancy cars and I went to graduate school to study international relations and economics, which,” she jokes, “costs the same, by the way!”
Benartzi attended Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy. It was there—in a classroom not far from the piazzas and cafes—that she began to learn some of the problems of the international financial system. “It’s really problematic,” she says. “We have this system that breeds inequality and we see it in every single nation. Income gaps are getting wider, and the wealth distribution is more and more unfair. We have more poor people and richer rich people ever before.”
After finishing the program, Benartzi went back to Palo Alto for work and heard about this mysterious new currency called Bitcoin. Benartzi’s mind was blown. She remembers thinking, “Wow! We can have NON-governmental money?” Having spent two full years studying the inequalities of the current banking system, she knew she had to be part of the cryptocurrency movement. “Since that moment there’s been nothing else on my mind,” she recalls. “And then, how do we get more women [involved]…It’s my intuition that if women are equally involved in designing the new financial system it will be much better for society.”
In 2017 Benartzi helped create Bancor Protocol—a non-profit foundation specializing in currency conversion for cryptographic tokens. She describes Bancor as “a way for anyone to be able to create their own currency” and still be “automatically exchangeable” with each other. “Our vision is not to have a big fat middleman layer,” she says. “We’re not all paying gatekeepers and fees along the way in order to make the trade.” Currently, Bancor facilitates automated conversions for 68 different types of cryptocurrencies.
When you hear about cryptocurrency in the news, it’s typically about the wins and losses, or whether the currency will actually survive. But for Benartzi, crypto is about so much more than its monetary value. “People ask, ‘How much did you make? 20X on this, 100X on this?’ [That’s] missing the point,” she says. “Some people are here to make money. But some of us feel the urgency to use this technology to make the world better.”
Benartzi is trying to do that. Currently about 35 to 40 percent of Bancor’s employees are female—and she’d like to boost those numbers. One hurdle: She gets so many fewer resumes from female candidates. “I would rather take a woman who is less qualified and put in the extra energy to train her,” she says. “Gender balance in a company is essential, and yet if you don’t actively fight for it—especially in tech and crypto—it will easily elude you. It takes extra time and effort to seek out diverse and qualified candidates and to support those talented individuals attempting to break into the space. This effort is well worth it in the long run.” And her hope is that soon she’ll see more and more resumes from females working in cryptocurrency. Her advice? “There are crypto and blockchain meetups all over the country—go to them knowing nothing! Who cares? If this field really calls to you, find the coolest crypto company and get a job there. It doesn’t matter if you paint the walls there, you’ll be absorbing information and you’ll find the way you’re most passionate about contributing.”
In a technological revolution whose ranks are filled with fanboys and get-rich-schemers, Elizabeth Stark, the CEO of Lightning Labs, a company building second-layer software for the Bitcoin payment network, stands out as the real deal. She is one of the OGs of Bitcoin and everything it represents, and is striving to build out the technology in a way that stays true to the ideals of those who use it.
Stark learned about Bitcoin in 2010. The best way to understand why she was drawn to it, she says, is to look at everything she was doing before it came along: She spent time organizing the 2012 SOPA protests against internet censorship; her graduate work at Harvard University included research on the spontaneous organization on the Internet; and she’s taught classes at Stanford on the Internet copyright wars. Put simply, she has a deep interest in preserving and strengthening the digital tools that let us create and share information.
“I was very motivated by not having things be closed off, [by] making knowledge available,” says Stark. When she heard about a digital currency being run by a peer-to-peer network in a way that circumvented traditional control centers? You bet she was interested. She was also fascinated by the idea of a digital currency that people could send in very small amounts without being charged excessive fees. With such a tool, reasoned Stark, alternative revenue streams could be built to replace the ad dollars that monetize so much of the content on the web today.
However, these tools only make a difference if enough people are using them. “For me I always saw the future and the potential of this as bringing it to the entire world,” says Stark, who has traveled extensively throughout the world and learned to speak French, German and Portuguese along the way. “If Bitcoin only serves a very small subset of the population I think we will not have succeeded. I want to see this go mainstream.”
Lightning Labs, where she’s CEO, is focused on making Bitcoin ready for the bigtime and ensuring that it continues to support low-value transactions. To this end, the Lightning software creates a layer on top of Bitcoin that processes transactions securely off the main blockchain making them faster and cheaper than they would otherwise be. The company counts Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, as one of its investors. And last October it released a desktop app for trying out Lightning in a test environment. Its release has sparked some of the same whimsical and spontaneous creativity that made the early Internet so much fun. For example, developer Elaine Ou has used the Lightning Network to set up payments to a birdseed vending machine in her house—you submit a payment and the bird gets lunch faster than you can launch your iPhone.
“What I love about this community is it’s not astro-turfed and corporate. You really have this passionate grassroots community of people that just love this stuff,” says Stark.
Projects like Ou’s are more than fun. They are the first little demonstrations of what the future of Bitcoin could look like. And, for Stark, they are a vindication. “They said, if Bitcoin is insane, then Lightning is even more insane,” she recalls. “But that’s how these things work. It goes from nobody caring to everyone caring.”
Over the course of adulthood, I’ve worn three different bra band sizes and over six cup sizes. This isn’t a unique experience, but it’s one that has made be grow to hate bras. I think this stems mostly from having not found one that fit me properly or comfortably. I also grew up playing sports and loved the support and ease of a sports bra—something I never get from a “real” everyday bra. And though I can appreciate beautiful lace and intricate craftsmanship as much as the next person, more traditional lingerie just wouldn’t do it for me.
Eventually, I did what most experts tell you to do: get a professional bra fitting. The person doing it explained how life changes, from pregnancy or weight gain or loss (even as little as five pounds), could translate to a difference in your sizing. I, someone who has been buying the same bra size that I wore in college since I graduated, clearly needed an update—and was even shocked when she told me I should wear a 34F. That meant that I needed support for my big bust, but also must be comfortable at all times. (I can’t think straight when I’m wearing something remotely bothersome, and have been known to change into the slippers given to models on the sets of photoshoots in order to think more clearly. So, yes, it’s important.)
The bra fitter recommended getting fitted professionally every six months to a year, to ensure the most accurate sizing. But, to be honest, I could hardly see myself keeping up with that schedule—or adding anything to the adulting list, which includes doctor check-ups, teeth cleanings, vet visits… I could maybe deal with my bra not fitting quite right.
Then, I remembered a sample I had tried a few months before that. True & Co. had just debuted its True Body bras, which is meant to “look damn near invisible under clothes,” and had sent me a handful to try out. Because they’re made with this stretchy, nylon-elastane fabric and measured in sizes XS through XL (and with options forfull cups, too, if you want more support), I figured this could be a good solve for my reluctance towards a biannual bra size check-up.
First impression: They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing bras on the block. They’re pretty plain—almost like the training bras you got when you were just hitting puberty. But when I put it on, I get the incredibly supportive comfort of my best sports bra, only without the dreaded uniboob look.
The material is super soft, but doesn’t stretch out throughout the day. Plus, as someone who dislikes any sort of underwire or padding, I liked that these came with removable pads, so you have the choice of wearing your bra with or without them. (I even keep the padding in most of the time, since I like the oh-so-subtle shape it gives me. This bra has truly changed me.)
It’s gotten to the point where, if I can’t find it in my drawer, which is full of other bras, in the morning when I’m getting dressed, I’ll have a bit of a panic. That’s how I know I can’t live without it.
You can shop True & Co.’s True Body collection here.
All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
The first-ever all-female TV news station there runs a lot like any station in the U.S., with one big exception: These journalists are risking their lives.
It’s 4:00 A.M., and Kabul is dark and still. Shabana Noori wills herself out of bed to drink a cup of hot tea. The 22-year-old news anchor and fledgling star of ZAN TV has to get to work by 6:00 for her Friday-morning shift. ZAN, whose name means “woman” in Dari, is the first and only TV station in Afghanistan for women, made up of an all-female team of journalists, most of them in their early twenties. Launched in the Afghan capital in May, the station sheds light on everything from cosmetics (once banned under the Taliban) to women in sports (also previously banned) to domestic violence (tragically still commonplace). Until now there has never been a show—let alone an entire station—focused on women’s issues. The fact that the women of ZAN are openly talking about them on national television is revolutionary.
Sleepy-eyed, Noori isn’t thinking about how she’s a role model; she’s focused on her daily morning dilemma: what to wear. Normally she’d choose a formfitting outfit in shocking greens, deep reds, intense blues. But today Noori’s in mourning; her aunt has recently died. She picks a dark ensemble—a long black skirt, a black headscarf, a black choker necklace, and a navy T-shirt. Still, she shows her rebelliousness. Her tee reads, “What in the funk do you see” in white block lettering, and her nails are painted glittery gold.
By 5:00 she’s running late. Grabbing her purse and an apple, Noori heads outside, shimmies into a pair of black stilettos on the front porch, and proceeds to gracefully navigate the rough road outside—the cracked pavement, the open sewer. Her father, Ghulam Mohammad, waves goodbye, proud of his daughter, the youngest of his five children, and the career she’s built for herself that helps support her family.
“I want her to achieve her goals,” he says. “I want her to be a tool for the truth.”
Ghulam is illiterate, as is his wife, Khanum Gul. But they believe their daughter—their outspoken, fearless, beautiful daughter—is going to be someone.
If she’s not killed first.
A New Image of Female Strength
On most early mornings Noori hurtles to work through Kabul traffic in a ZAN TV car. Women were banned from driving during Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, and even now most women still don’t—or can’t—drive. On this late summer morning, a few days before Afghanistan’s Independence Day, she and her driver pick up her colleague (who asked not to be named to protect her safety) on the way to the office. It’s almost peaceful, and for a moment it’s possible to forget the fear that rules this chaotic, bomb-scarred city, with its weekly suicide attacks and ugly blast walls.
The car pulls up near the station—the street has been blocked off by security guards, but sometimes even road closures and armed officers aren’t enough to stop violence in Kabul. In 2015 gunmen stormed the hotel across the street from the station in an attack targeting foreigners, killing 14 people. Noori and her colleague, whose face is shielded by oversize sunglasses, get out of the car and walk the rest of the way, smiling as they dodge puddles of murky water. They go through a secure gate topped with razor wire and past an armed guard and quotations Noori and the team painted on the wall: “Violence against women is an insult to humanity,” and “With women’s empowerment, there is a better tomorrow.” Some of Afghanistan’s legendary roses, in pinks and whites, border the balconied green-and-burnt-orange building.
Once inside, the two young women are greeted by the friendly, tired faces of the early-morning shift. Noori heads upstairs to get her hair and makeup done, then joins her cohost, Shamla Niazi, for their two-hour morning talk show. They sit in front of a blue-sky background where they laugh, discuss recent events, and dig deep into potentially lifesaving and life-changing issues that matter to Afghan women. It’s a vibe similar to The View, with some Afghan flair. On this particular Friday the hosts talk about the importance of freedom in the developing world and compare those without freedom to caged birds. Afghans love to be poetic.
In the green room, a mother, Marzia, 39, watches the set with her two daughters. They usually tune in to ZAN at home, but today they’ll be on air themselves, showcasing their tae kwon do moves. In America it would be a typical feel-good segment. But it’s quietly bold in Afghanistan, where women’s bodies—and their strength—are often hidden, not celebrated. “As a child, I wanted to be in sports, but I didn’t have the chance,” Marzia says. “I tried to give that opportunity to my children.”
A song ends just before a commercial break. At the end there’s a dedication to Nadia Anjuman, a 25-year-old Afghan poet beaten to death by her husband in 2005. It’s one way ZAN regularly and subtly introduces sensitive issues casually into the conversation.
A Life Full of Risks
Born as the Taliban came to power, Noori understands how fragile her freedoms are. Under that hard-line Islamic leadership, Afghan women like her mother were forced into billowing head-to-toe burqas and largely barred from studying, from working, or even from venturing outside their home without a male family escort. Women’s-rights advocates were driven underground, risking their lives simply to teach girls how to read and write.
“ ‘It was difficult to keep you alive,’ ” Noori recalls her mother saying when she was younger; “ ‘it was such a struggle.’ ” Now Noori knows she’s made her mother proud: “My mom loves to watch me on TV,” she says. “My mom always says, ‘Because I’m illiterate, what you do has so much value.’ ”
The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to take down al-Qaeda was also touted as a way to liberate Afghan women, and it did help bring about some changes. Today women in the country are slowly but increasingly pursuing higher education, running for office, training for the Olympics, even building robots. But those gains have been limited. Despite three U.S. administrations’ pouring billions of dollars into the country in what is now America’s longest war, the Taliban continues to have a strong influence in large swaths of Afghanistan, and many Afghan girls and women are still kept home by their families, who view women’s advancement as an inappropriate Western notion. Even in 2018 an estimated 83 percent of Afghan women are illiterate; one third are married off before age 18. In urban areas women have some access to education and are better able to pursue careers and lives of their own choosing. But because of this perceived defiance of tradition, they are targeted by extremists and sometimes frowned upon by disapproving neighbors and family members.
And in rural areas, where the Taliban has gained ground in recent years, many women remain hidden away in homes, forcibly cloaked in burqas that cover their eyes and faces and even their hands, with little agency or ability to access health care, education, or legal support. In 2009 UNICEF said that Afghanistan was “without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born,” and the risks are particularly high for girls. Two years later Save the Children warned that Afghanistan was the world’s “worst country” to be a mother. All told, some 17 years after the Taliban was toppled from power in Kabul, the war-torn country is often cited as one of the worst places to be a woman.
“I know the situation is not good for us,” Noori says. But “I feel that whatever other women cannot do, I want to do—to be an example for those women, to be the voice of women who are unheard.”
A Star Is Made
Noori got her start as an actress, landing a role in a TV serial at age 13. With support from her family, she has worked in television ever since. It was two years ago when Noori learned firsthand how dangerous such a public career could be. She was a presenter at another TV station, where they occasionally made light of religious issues and current affairs. Soon after, her then-boss, the male director, was kidnapped and beaten by unidentified gunmen, who told them to stop their outspoken work. “Leave,” he told Noori. “If this can happen to me, it can happen to you.” She and her parents fled to India; one of her brothers risked death at sea to seek safe haven in Europe and made it to Germany. But in India, the family was unable to secure refugee status with the United Nations. Her mother fell ill—a brain tumor that would later be removed in Pakistan—and, facing the crushing difficulty of life as refugees and in need of medical care, they returned to Kabul at the end of 2016.
Noori was more determined than ever to carve out a future in her home country. Not long after they returned, she saw posters that said “ZAN TV: Coming soon.” She quickly applied and landed one of the top anchor posts. For ZAN founder Hamid Samar, an entrepreneur, launching the television station was about business more than equal rights: He sees an untapped market of female viewers that he hopes will propel the station to success. But Samar also believes in the mission of the work. “This is just the beginning,” says Samar of his crew of about a dozen women. He says he hopes to train the next generation of Afghan women in media and to provide a safe space for them to learn and grow.
As ZAN finds its footing—Samar says viewership is steadily growing, though GLAMOUR could not independently verify the numbers—they are slowly introducing more hard-hitting and controversial topics. On one recent segment Selay Ghaffar, a spokesperson for the small but vocal Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, voiced her anger over stalled progress for women’s rights. “Our women are still facing the same violence,” she said. “Our women and girls are being raped and gang-raped by the people in power.” The target of her criticism was clear: Afghanistan’s deeply patriarchal, and often corrupt, government officials.
With such outspoken feminist rhetoric, ZAN faces massive security concerns. The station has already received a direct threat from the Taliban. Most of the women working there have been targeted over social media and jeered at by strangers. “They told me, ‘If you don’t stop working in media, bad things will happen to you,’ ” says Najwa Alemi, 22, a news reporter at ZAN.
The staffers know to not dismiss things like this as shallow cyberbullying threats: In 2015 one of the most shocking acts of violence against women made headlines, after an angry mob killed 27-year-old Farkhunda Malikzada in central Kabul. The educated, vocal woman had dared to confront a fortune-teller at a mosque (authorities later found he had been selling Viagra and may have been acting as a pimp) who she felt was taking advantage of desperate women. The fortune-teller responded by claiming, falsely, that Malikzada had burned a Koran. It was a death sentence: The mob ripped off her black hijab, kicked, slapped, and punched her, and even bludgeoned her with a piece of wood. Even as police tried to save her, men grabbed her body and dragged her, limp and bloodied, to a dried river bed. They threw rocks at her and, finally, lit her ablaze. It happened in one of the most public areas of the city, and the persecutors were only lightly punished.
Journalists also face daily risks; in a devastating blow to the Afghan press, in January 2016 a Taliban suicide car bomber targeted a bus for the most popular TV news station in the country, TOLO News, killing seven staffers and injuring dozens more people, since it happened during evening rush hour.
Noori must endure even more concern about her safety than her colleagues. Not only is she a young female journalist shedding light on issues important to women; she’s also Hazara, an ethnic minority made up of predominantly Shia Muslims that has been persecuted and targeted by the Taliban and ISIS alike. “I don’t know what will happen to me,” she says. “[This work] is a risk for my family. But I’ve taken this risk. It’s who I am.”
Staying Focused on the Work
The taunting letters, social media posts, and phone calls can be wearying, but the staff just finds new ways to keep getting the work done. When people used photos from Alemi’s Facebook page to try to tarnish her reputation, she removed all pictures of herself from social media. After other women at the station faced similar harassment, ZAN staffers began patrolling Facebook, watching for targeted threats and deleting dangerous comments. The station also had to change course when it opened up call-in lines to some of its shows. Many Afghan men do not have contact with women who are not relatives, and male callers began dialing in to sexually harass female talent. The TV station quickly tasked male employees to answer the phones.
Home isn’t always a reprieve; some of the TV station’s staff face backlash for their work from parents, fiancés, brothers, and extended family. Noori is lucky; her family supports her career. But for Alemi, it’s been an uphill battle. “My father is worried for my safety,” she says. Yet she still wants to do more—most of the women work in the safety of the ZAN building, calling sources or interviewing them on camera in the studio because the risk of kidnapping climbs dramatically when they report in the field. But sometimes Alemi goes out anyway, as when she reported on Kabul graffiti amid rumors of a potential suicide attack that day. She takes the risk because she hopes that by broadcasting into the homes of Afghan women, many of whom are home all day and unable to work or study, she and her colleagues can change, or even save, lives. “Many women are illiterate and don’t know their rights,” Alemi says. “We give them the hope that their daughters are able to have rights.”
It’s this message that they want to spread to “every corner of Afghanistan,” says Noori. It’s what she hopes for in her own life. “All I want is to be independent,” she says. In Afghanistan it’s traditionally taboo to address women by their own names—women are often referred to as “wife of Ahmad” or “mother of Hassan.” “I want to be known for who I am, not Shabana, wife of someone else,” she says with a rebellious smile. And Noori is proud to have her name broadcast on television screens across Afghanistan: “I want society to get to a place,” she says, “where all women are recognized for themselves.”
Sophia Jones is an Istanbul-based writer and senior editor with The Fuller Project, a nonprofit dedicated to in-depth reporting about women’s issues around the world. Kiana Hayeri is a photographer working in Tehran and Kabul. Reporting for this story was also supported by The European Journalism Centre, a nonprofit media institute based in the Netherlands.
A Star Is Born has been met with non-stop acclaim ever since its debut, which isn’t so surprising given that Lady Gaga is front and center of the project. Not only did she give the performance of a lifetime as pop singer Ally, but she basically caused a rupture in the space-time continuum with her show-stopping red carpet outfits during the press tour.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, but that could have been the case: In a recent interview, Jennifer Lopez shared that she had been in early talks to develop a Star Is Born script with Will Smith.
Speaking to Extra, Lopez addressed rumors that she and Smith had been attached to the film before Bradley Cooper came in to direct and star in the remake. “Oh yeah, Will and I talked about it and talked about developing the script,” the singer/actress/producer/icon said. “It just never took off. Projects are like that.”
Lopez and Smith reportedly dropped out of talks around 2013. At some point, Clint Eastwood was also looking into the project and had tapped Beyoncé and Leonardo DiCaprio about lead roles. That didn’t work out either, of course. Eventually Cooper was brought on, and he turned to Lady Gaga in a room full of 100 people, and…well, you know the rest.
Cooper and Gaga’s version of the film is the third remake of the 1937 original; subsequent versions have starred Judy Garland and, later, Barbara Streisand. Gaga was nominated for a Grammy and a Golden Globe earlier this month, and she’s considered a top contender for an Oscar this year.
Lopez says that even though the film didn’t work out on her end, she’s happy with how it’s all turned out.
“I’m really proud of Bradley, one for directing his first film…we’re friends, and watching Gaga kind of do her thing in the movie, it’s just great,” she said. “It’s perfect, just like this movie, everything happens in its own divine timing.”
Still, we can’t but wonder what the J.Lo version of Ally would have been like. Would there have been dance routines? Green Versace dresses? I guess we’ll never know.