Bee the change: What International Women’s Day means to five eco-friendly business owners

This International Women’s Day, Bazar Ethical Marketplace  and its charity partner Bees Abroad have invited five women-founded businesses to share what ‘empowerment’ means to them ahead of the launch of the charity’s ‘Beekeepers for Life’ campaign.

The new campaign from Bees Abroad seeks to empower women and alleviate poverty through the creation of women-led beekeeping projects in communities across Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Beekeepers for Life seeks to create leaders, trainers, and entrepreneurs through these beekeeping communities.

Bazar has been working with Bees Abroad since July 2020 as part of its ‘Eco Programme Partnerships’ which sees 1% of all of sales commission revenue donated across their charities. 

Bazar has over 100 verified eco-friendly businesses trading on its virtual marketplace, many of which are female-founded. To mark the launch of the Beekeepers for Life Campaign, Alix Cope, Co-Founder of Bazar and Hania Gudiens, Trustee of Bees Abroad, asked the founders of five of these businesses, what International Women’s Day means to them:

Sarah Jordan, Founder of Y.O.U Underwear, said: “Empowering women is really at the centre of what Y.O.U Underwear stands for. Through our buy-one-give-two model we’re donating underwear to women and children in Africa and the UK, helping them to stay in school and have access to opportunities whilst on their periods. As a 100% female founded and run business, International Women’s Day is a great chance for us to celebrate the work we’re doing as part of the global community acting to enhance women’s rights.”

Megha Shah, Founder of Siyana London, explained: As a woman business owner and mother, International Women’s Day is really important to me. I work with a lot of women artisans myself in India and I know how these women struggled to get daily wages.

Empowering women means giving equal rights and opportunities to every woman irrespective of woman’s caste, culture age sex, and ethnicity. I strongly believe in education since it changes the way we think and often think of the old African proverb ‘If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation)’.”

Tullika Bhalla, Director at Boho Homes, said: “As a Fairtrade social enterprise, we work with a number of cause related organisations. The majority of these are women run non-profit organisations with the majority of the production units set up in either rural locations or allow women to work from home. 

Solidarity, not charity, has always been the guiding force behind Boho Homes and and it is important for us to work with partners that ensure the well being of their female workforce by providing higher wages, medical benefits, financial education and good working conditions.”

Clare McCormack, Director of Luna Tree Jewellery, said: “When a woman is empowered and is able to create a better life for herself she is also empowering the next generation of women, giving them hope, giving them the chances of opportunities and showing them that women can be strong, courageous and creative.

International Women’s Day is a time of global celebration for me. Brave women who stand up to be heard, women who fight for the same opportunities in our patriarchal world and the achievements and victories big and small of women everywhere definitely needed to be celebrated.”

Grazia Saulle, Founder of Olina, said: “We can shape our future as we want, but we must support each other as much as we can to do so. At Olina, we believe that the expressive power of fashion can contribute; communicating positive messages and creating communities.”

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. We’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions and can choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

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