“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”
– Gloria Steinem –
International Women’s Day began in New York, February 1908, when garment workers protested against working conditions. In 1975 the United Nations moved International Women’s Day to March 8th, where it continues as a celebration of the political, social and, economical advancements of women and a chance to reflect on what we can improve.
There are many ways to celebrate International Women’s Day – you could wear purple to work, donate to your favourite women’s charity, participate in an event, or cross all of your fingers that Queen Bee creates another video – but how can we continue striving for the goals and ideals of International Women’s Day even when the calendar moves on?
Here at Good On You, we love supporting organisations and businesses that are doing good in the community, particularly through social enterprises. Rather than simply providing material support for women in desperate need, social enterprises are a practical way to support and empower women.
But what exactly is a social enterprise? Is it another label for not-for-profit? Is it just a way to ensure the creation of my beautiful new scarf didn’t exploit anyone?
Despite existing in different forms for years, it was only in 2009 that Finding Australia’s Social Enterprise Sector (FASES) was created to define what a social enterprise is in Australia.
Social enterprises are organisations that:
1. Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
2. Trade to fulfill their mission;
3. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade; and
4. Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfillment of their mission.
Basically, a social enterprise is a business whose mission operates for the public or community’s benefit and where the majority of the profits are reinvested. But at the end of the day, it’s about improving society or the environment instead of maximising profits.
Social enterprises often aim to close the gap between consumers and makers allowing us to know what our money is supporting and where it is going.
They’re important because they aim for and offer self-sufficiency and sustainability on a global scale.
Womens social enterprises are important because they empower women and offer opportunity instead of exploitation.
They’re important because they make a difference.
In Australia we have the ability to support many social enterprises while making our usual purchases. At Good On You, we’re really proud to share the stories of these businesses with you, and to celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to share two more:
Fitted for Work transform the lives thousands of women experiencing disadvantage by helping helping them get work and keep it. They do this at offices in the Melbourne CBD and Parramatta in Sydney by providing free interview appropriate clothing at their personal dressing services and through mentoring and transition to work programs.
Described in The Age newspaper as “dazzling”. Dear Gladys is an online and offline store that sells vintage & contemporary clothing, accessories and homewares!operated. All profits are use to support Fitted For Work.
SASHA is a not-for-profit marketing outlet that represents hundreds of craftspeople from all over India. They’re also a founding member of the Fair Trade Forum in India, a national network of voluntary organisations, producers, cooperatives, and development organisations working to promote and strengthen Fair Trade concepts in India.
Although I’ll take any excuse to justify a trip to India, you can purchase products and support SASHA and their craftspeople without making your way to their retail outlet in Kolkata. They export products to Fair Trade organisations all over the world, including Oxfam, who are one of our favourites in the Good On You shop. Prepare for autumn with this hand-loomed, linen scarf, or pretend it’s still spring in cotton. This plum rose stole is the perfect item to #paintitpurple on International Women’s Day.
More information: www.sashaworld.com
The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT)
The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust began in 1990 in South Africa in response to the HIV pandemic. Their aim to “provide unconditional love to all infected and affected by HIV/AIDS” has far-reaching and measurable results. In 2012, they administered 650 HIV tests every month, provided care to over 460 patients in their homes, and assisted over 300 crafters to receive income for their work – everything from tableware, to christmas decorations, to these beautiful printed bags that are a lot nicer than the tattered green bag I’ve been known to schlep around.
More information: www.hillaids.org.za
Do you have a favourite social enterprise that empowers women and brings meaningful change and sustainability to communities across the world?
Let us know by leaving a comment below!!
Feature image: UN Photo/Mark Garten
Reana is a freelance writer and eater of brownies. When she’s not travelling you can find her in Melbourne, Australia or at www.reanamccourt.com.