This year, there are a record number of women in the U.S. Congress. Last year in Saudi Arabia, women gained the right to drive. There’s no doubt that women’s rights and equality have advanced considerably. Yet, in many places, both in our own society and abroad, there’s a lot of work to be done. If empowered women empower women, then it’s time for us to step up and help empower women around the world. On this International Women’s Day on March 8th, I’m sharing four ways you can help empower women near and far.
1. SUPPORT FAIR-TRADE BRANDS
The fair-trade movement is taking off, and it’s exciting that more companies are being transparent about their business and employment practices. As western consumers, we have a responsibility to know how the products we purchase are made. Fair trade promotes income sustainability, empowerment and environmental stewardship. Women are less likely to be employed than men [UNwomen] and fair-trade companies provide employment opportunities (often including healthcare) that might not otherwise exist. The next time you are considering purchasing a product, do your research to know where it’s coming from, how it’s made and who makes it.
2. CLEAN WATER & EDUCATION
In the developed world, we often take clean water for granted. With a twist of a faucet or a quick trip to the store, clean water is easily accessible to us. For women in developing countries, getting water is a large responsibility that usually falls disproportionately on them. In fact, women and children spend 200 million hours each day collecting water. It’s an arduous task that is often done barefoot, and takes women/children away from school, employment and other responsibilities. Not to mention, unclean water sources lead to high rates of illness and death that can easily be prevented. When women have access to clean and safe water, they can live healthy and safe lives. We have the ability to help women have clean and safe water around the world by funding clean water sources. If you’d like to help, the Her Initiative and Drop4Drop are two organizations that work to provide clean water and education to women in developing countries.
3. DONATE YOUR BUSINESS CLOTHES
Women’s shelters are a place of refuge and assistance for many women, whether they be transitioning out of homelessness or fleeing a domestic violence situation. Women in shelters often have very little to their name. For many of these women, entering the workforce can be made even more difficult when they don’t have money for proper interview or business attire. You can empower women in your community by donating your work/business clothes. In addition, women’s shelters are also in need of makeup, toiletries and feminine products. A quick Google search will help you find a women’s shelter in your area that you can donate to.
4. GIVE BOOKS TO A WOMEN’S PRISON
Books have the power to change lives. For women that are incarcerated, books can be a valuable resource in more ways than one. Re-entering society can be tough, but books can provide them with hard skills, knowledge, creative thinking and new vocabulary. Books are needed in various subjects—everything from business to popular fiction. If you have books in good condition that are less than five years old, consider donating them to a women’s prison. Again, a Google search will help you find non-profits that collect books to be donated to prisons in your area.
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