International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a day to celebrate the achievements of womankind, to recognise the contribution of our gender to worldwide peace and development and to bring issues that are directly affecting us to light.
This year marks twenty years since the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 where the Beijing Platform for Action, a plan for increasing women’s rights, was developed and signed by 189 countries. The theme of this year’s International Women’s day events is ‘Beijing +20’, designed to spark a review of the document in regards to the progress that has been made in the campaign for gender equality, as well as to encourage further action.
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Back home, the Australian National Committee for UN Women hosts events all over the nation. They suggest that you can get involved with the campaign by attending or hosting an event, becoming a member, selling ribbons or simply donating.
These are all fantastic ways to support the movement, but if you cannot commit the time to these initiatives, do not stress, you can still play a part!
There are many organisations operating across the world with the aim of empowering women to take control of their lives and achieve financial independency. This International Women’s Day, why not support these women by purchasing an item from one of these companies or charities? Better yet, gift them to your girlfriends and colleagues to spread the word about International Women’s Day, socially conscious organisations and the issue of gender equality!
Without further ado, let us introduce you to 9 such organisations that you can support to make a difference in the lives of women this International Women’s Day.
Gifts for International Women’s Day
SAWA (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan) Australia NSW is a charitable organisation whose current major project is providing free education to Afghan refugees via Heward High School in Pakistan. It is one of the only schools in Pakistan that remains open to Afghan girls where 147 students currently attend from grades 1-12. Amongst more traditional subjects, the students are educated on the topic of women’s rights in an effort to change the next generation’s perception of gender roles.
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To support the cause you can purchase an Eco Shopping Bag, available in a wide range of colours, or a pack of 6 gift cards to send to your girlfriends this IWD!
Popinjay is a company that grew from Founder Saba Gul’s realisation that artistic talent in her home country of Pakistan was stifled due to the lack of connection to the world market. So she set out to be the voice between the local and global markets and in the process developed a successful brand that is about quality over quantity, locally sourced raw materials and intricate handcraft. By providing above average wages and training Gul has enabled the women she employs to become financially independent.
Popinjay offer a range of limited edition products, including clutches and totes made from handwoven fabric and detailed with silk embroidery.
3. Oxfam Shop
At Oxfam they are working on a sustainable solution to poverty that involves providing people in need with the training, resources and market exposure necessary for success. Oxfam currently has trading relationships with 136 producer groups in 38 countries (even including Australia!). They use their Oxfam shops to sell these hand-made and fair trade goods and by making a purchase you are supporting the small-scale producers around the world, as well as helping to raise funds for new and existing programs.
In store or online you can find a variety of unique goods including children’s toys, home décor, kitchen supplies, clothes and accessories, books and cards and food and drink at very affordable prices!
Kate Spade has developed a range of handmade goods under the brand ‘On Purpose’. This is a side project of the company, who has set up training and production facilities in Masoro, Rwanda. They stress that the initiative “is not a charity project” and that they are “training them to become a profitable supplier and participate in the global marketplace”. By employing 150 women from the Masoro community they have been able to positively impact the lives of some 20,000 people in the community.
The On Purpose range extends across all brands under the company – Kate Spade New York, Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade (for men) – and you can purchase everything from bags, scarfs and jewellery, to beanies and hand-stitched pocket squares!
Kathy Wong’s MoeLoco, is a socially conscious brand that has been developed in line with the ‘buy-one-give-one’ business model to combat poverty, particularly amongst children. This means that for every pair of shoes purchased they will give a pair of shoes to the Hope Foundation for allocation to an orphan in need. This simple system will help the children avoid injury and health problems and attend school.
Currently MoeLoco stock beautifully designed thongs that feature inspirational messages on the top and sole. This is so that when you walk in the sand, you leave behind words of kindness such as ‘love’, ‘happiness’ and ‘peace’. How great is that?!
The Brave Collection is based in Cambodia and aims to empower women through job opportunities. They employ local women from disadvantaged backgrounds, single mothers or those with a disability to work in their studio producing hand-woven and carved jewellery. In return the women receive a fair working environment, above average wages, benefits such as health insurance, and are able to bring their children to work. In addition, The Brave Collection donates 10% of their profits to fight human trafficking and collaborates with local organisations to educate and empower the local women and girls through creative arts programs.
Each piece of jewellery sold by The Brave Collection has been dyed, woven and carved by hand. The ‘Brave Bracelet’ featured in the picture is one of their signature pieces. See their website for more beautiful designs!
The Akola Project is a not-for-profit organisation that believes the only sustainable way to reduce poverty is to empower women to become change makers in their community. They do this through a six step model that includes building community infrastructure, providing vocational training, producing globally competitive products, rewarding workers with above average wages, assisting beneficiaries with health and financial advice, and encouraging and supporting the women to embark on their own business venture. This approach means that each woman can support 10 children and is equipped with the skills and resources to make a better life. Until recently, Akola’s main focus has been communities in Uganda, but they have just introduced a program in Dallas, Texas.
Akola women create beautiful accessories using local materials and techniques. The cherry on the cake? 100% of the profits from the sale of these items are reinvested into the project.
WFWI run training and development programs for women in 8 countries to help them rebuild their lives after war. These programs provide the women with in-demand skills and a health education and inform them of their rights so that they may become active in household and community decision making.
Featured on their website is the link “Shop with a Purpose” where you will find the products created and the shops endorsed by WFWI. Recently they launched their first cookbook titled ‘Share’ that includes local recipes from around the world as well as individual stories of the women that completed the WFWI program. You will also find contributions from world-renowned chefs and humanitarians. What’s more, 100% of the profits go back to the program. The perfect gift for that master chef friend of yours!
Global Girlfriend is a GreaterGood online store, which means that every purchase made gives a charity royalty between 5-30%.Global Girlfriend’s charity of choice is GROW (Girl’s Right to Opportunity Worldwide) who work to assist young girls to attend primary and secondary school by providing them with the necessary resources and covering tuition fees.
The products sold on Global Girlfriend’s website are women-made, fair-trade and eco-friendly and sourced from all over the world. You can find many affordable gifts, great clothes and accessories and find out all about the organisations who make them.
By purchasing a gift from any of these organisations you are making a real and positive impact on the lives of the women producers and their families across the world. International Women’s Day is a great excuse to check these organisations out and to realise the power of our daily spending in making a difference.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Ozlem is the Founder of Spirit of Womankind – a platform for facilitating womankind’s reconnection to their truth so they feel free to design the lives they truly want to live. Ozlem is also an Associate at Xplore for Success – an organisation dedicated to driving gender equality in the workplace.
Sarah is based in Melbourne, Australia where she is completing her Business degree.
Feature image credit: Moeloco