Choose to Challenge
Happy International Women's Day! As a women owned and operated company, this is one of our favorite days of the year. Today we get to put the spotlight on women, celebrating their achievements and fighting for their equality. I like to think that we celebrate IWD a little bit everyday here at Lucia's, but today is extra special.
The 2021 theme for International Women's Day is "Choose to Challenge." Standing together, we believe that if we challenge the status-quo, we can make a global change. In this issue, we are going to walk through the three steps of choosing to challenge, and we hope that after reading you take the pledge with us to choose to challenge corrupt power structures, institutionalized bias, and gender inequality this year.
Celebrate women's achievements
The first step in challenging standing systems of inequality is simply recognizing women's achievements. We've all heard it, and many of us women have experienced it - women do so many amazing and powerful things quietly and without reward. Women often feel like we must outperform expectations to simply hold our place in the world, and so we've become capable of incredible things. We've often learned how to do them without asking for help or seeking credit to feel like we've "matched the boys." Whether it's caring for a household, working your way up the ladder at work, or taking good care of your mind and body during a busy week, you deserve to feel proud of your accomplishments. So today, we want to encourage all of our readers to give themselves and a hard-working woman they care about a reward. Indulge on a delicious dessert (I recommend one of our favorite chocolate recipes) or buy that outfit you've been eyeing. And if you're a boss, can we suggest giving your employees a small bonus? The wage gap is real, AND women often spend a lot of unpaid time helping their companies become more female-friendly. Money is simply the most helpful way to show that you care.
Here at Lucia's, we want to spotlight our female artisans. These boss ladies have completely changed their villages from impoverished to thriving. They've used traditional skills in creative new ways to provide for their families and neighbors. For example, their popular embroidered masks have enabled them to provide meals for entire villages during COVID. They've invested money wisely in education, business creation, and giving good jobs to even more people in their area. One of our female artisan partners was the first person in her village to go to college! Now she has returned and is managing a successful shop right where she grew up. They've made safer homes for their children. Through working hard in fair trade, one of our artisan partners was able to leave an abusive partner and continue to provide for her children. We appreciate them so much, and we appreciate how you've supported their work.
Raise awareness against bias
I wish I could say that it was enough to just celebrate women's achievements and that would change everything. But the sad truth is that many women around the world aren't even given the opportunity to make change or escape oppression. That's why the second step in choosing to challenge is to raise awareness against bias. Gender inequality is still very real in the modern world. Women and non-gender conforming individuals do get paid less for the same jobs as men. They are more often harassed in the workplace. They tend to face more challenges outside the workplace as well. Within your company and sphere of influence, it is so important to let people know that these biases exist so that they can be challenged. Yet for women, this can be a difficult or dangerous act. Often times, raising awareness means raising concerns about a superior or competitor, and there can be serious consequences. Still, if we want to see a difference, we must raise awareness.
Take action for equality
The final step in choosing to challenge existing structures and making change is by far the hardest. This step is taking action for equality. Real action. By taking the pledge this International Women's Day, we've had to look at our sphere of influence as individuals and as a small business. We've had to start asking questions about what we can actually do to improve the lives of women in our city, country, and around the world. By participating in fair trade values and principles, we choose to fight against labor exploitation across the globe. Of the 25 million people estimated to be in slavery, 71% of those are women or girls. We're devoted to listening to the women we work with and making this company a place that allows them to accomplish their goals. We're devoted to donating to and participating in programs in our area that empower women of all backgrounds. We want to encourage you to ask yourself, "How can I make a difference for women in my sphere of influence?" Share with us what you come up with!