Today we join in the celebration of International Women’s Day with joy and a great outlook for a future where women across the globe will enjoy the same access to equality and girls can grow up to live to their full potential.
However, the reality is that women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in an article yesterday that, “No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind. This is why the United States believes gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace, and why investing in women and girls worldwide is critical to advancing US foreign policy.” The beauty of this is that we all have the purchasing power to effect real change for women and girls all over.
After my trip to Haiti a year ago, I’ve become passionate about learning more about how the decisions we make when we purchase something can have a direct impact on the women who created it, and ripple through to their families and communities. I call it conscious purchasing, it’s also known as ethical fashion or consumption.
So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Walmart, one of the brands that SpanglishBaby works with (and through whose sponsorship we’re able to keep this movement going!) is launching an online destination on Walmart.com that gives shoppers who want to buy unique and interesting products the opportunity to do so while supporting small women-owned businesses around the world. With each purchase, consumers lift and empower the women behind these products to create new jobs and improve both their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. Empowering Women Together offers shoppers more than 200 items from 19 businesses in nine countries.
Empowering Women Together is also dedicated to helping U.S.-based women-owned businesses grow and expand their distribution. Nine of the initial 19 Empowering Women Together businesses are U.S. based.
Empowering Women Together will be part of Store for Good, a developing Walmart.com program dedicated to connecting consumers with products that do good for other people, for themselves, or for our environment. The initiative will grow and potentially include eco-friendly products and healthier food options. Something I truly can’t wait to see happen!
The inaugural Empowering Women Together collection includes jewelry from Peru, Rwanda, Kenya and the U.S.; home accessories from Rwanda and Haiti; paper mache from Haiti, apparel and accessories from Rwanda; iPad and laptop cases from Cambodia and Nepal; coffee and tea sets sourced globally and made in America; and specialty foods made in America and Canada. The full collection can be viewed online at www.walmart.com/empoweringwomentogether.
Empowering Women Together will give Joy Ndungutse, an entrepreneur in Rwanda, and many women like her around the world the opportunity they never thought they’d have – to begin or greatly expand their access to shoppers in America.
“From a humble beginning under a tree in a remote village in Rwanda, my sister and I founded Gahaya Links after the devastating 1994 Rwanda Genocide that left over 1 million dead,” said Joy Ndungutse. “We organized about 20 women with a vision of empowering them to enhance their weaving skills, to be able to earn an income, and live adequately by community standards. Today we are a growing network of over 4,000 women, the majority of whom are genocide survivors and are organized in cooperatives throughout Rwanda. Through our partnership with Full Circle Exchange and opportunities such as Empowering Women Together, this platform gives hope to many families in Rwanda and we are so grateful.”
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, we’ve received compensation for our time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.