Without any doubt, you will have noticed it was International Women’s Day last month. It was shown on billboards, written on t-shirts and told by celebrities. This day had a very important message: equality for all!
These days still, women are not paid and/or treated equally. Not only in poor or very religious countries as one might expect. No, all over the world. This special day is meant to bring attention to this strong message. However, even more importantly is what we do now, after this day. ‘We should all be feminists’ is what was written on the shirt (by Dior) worn by Sienna Miller and I think that is the key. Whatever your interpretation of a ‘feminist’ may be, it is time to cut the crap: we are all equal!
Another t-shirt that I would love to wear, said the following: ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’ It was worn by a couple of other celebrities. Very inspiring, but there is one problem with that shirt. The shirts were actually produced in a Mauritian sweatshop, by women earning less than 62 cents an hour. That doesn’t sound very ‘Women empowerment proof’. Still 80% of all garment workers is female, of which a large majority does not earn a living wage. If you are more interested in the story of those women, the story behind the ‘Made in…’, I recommend watching ‘Meet the Makers’ by Eleanor Amari.
We strongly believe in ‘voting’ with your money. Every time you spend money, you cast a vote and you support what you just paid for. So I listed 6 brands that truly empower women all year around.
The brand of inspiring woman Safia Minney is known for a lot of good stuff: sustainable materials, fair trade, gorgeous designs. Moreover, People Tree stands for equality. They support this throughout the whole supply chain, from the tailors to the London based HQ, which by the way is predominantly led by women. As if this is not enough, People Tree aims to select its partners for their support to the most vulnerable in their communities. As an example, People Tree’s supplier Assesi supports disadvantaged women within the local community by offering them work, support and investing in social enterprises such as a cancer hospital and an AIDS rehabilitation center. A collaboration resulted in the Equality tee as is shown below.
Led by two strong women, Catalina Girald and Gina Roderiguez, Naja started with the goal to empower women through lingerie. These beautifully designed under garments stand for body positivity and giving opportunities to underprivileged women (and it is also totally environmentally friendly!) Their message is strongly brought by the designs. For example their Nude for All collection, which offers a nudie for all skin tones. Moreover, the lingerie seeks to empower women instead of objectifying them.
Behind the scenes, Naja is empowering women by primarily employing single mothers or heads of households, and paying above market average with healthcare benefits. The women are offered flexible working hours to be able to combine work and childcare. Lucky kids! Also because Naja offers all children from Naja garment workers free books, school uniforms and all school meals. Totally a brand for the smart, strong, courageous and sexy women of today!
Raven + Lily travels the world to find local artisan groups of at-risk women, and work together to create their trendy fashion. Today, the brand employs more than 1,500 at-risk women in 10 countries around the world, providing them with a fair trade wage and access to a safe job, sustainable income and healthcare. For Raven + Lily, employing at-risk women means trafficked, HIV+, previously homeless, or in oppressive situations. With every purchase you make, you will directly fund micro-loan programs for women. Trendy fashion for us, a new opportunity for life of the makers.
Colours, colours, colours. This bright brand gets even more happy if you see the smiling faces of all the Malawi women working for Mayamiko. They make sure the garments are made ethically, and according contemporary designs fused with traditional African techniques. The brand also created the Mayamiko Trust, a charity community that provides and improves training, education, nutrition, sanitation to disadvantaged women. Oh, and even for the budget of sustainable fashionista’s: Mayamiko offers some real nice bargains.
The mission of this small brand is to ‘fashion a better world’ by empowering female artisans in India and Nepal, so that they can use their fair wage for a change. They can send their kids to school and provide a better future. The women are also provided health care, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions and child daycare. This all to fight poverty, inequality and child labor. Each piece (both fashion and jewelry) in their shop is handmade, according to traditional craft techniques that date back centuries.
What to do as a refugee or new immigrant in Australia? Could you ever imagine such a drastic change?The Social Outfit employs and trains people from refugee and new migrant communities, as TSO aims to build-up lasting skills fed by the traditional and cultural strengths of the diverse community. As a matter of fact, this inspiring initiative is not registered as a fashion retailer, but as Incorporated Association, and recognized as a Public Benevolent Institution Charity. That means that as a trading social enterprise, all profit generated from sales are put back into the organisation. Prices vary quite a lot, but this brand is absolutely worth a visit!