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December 15, 2008

Women Shop 2008

Welcome to our 2008 edition of Women Shop - our guide to using your holiday buying power to help women and women's causes all around the world.

Here's a reminder of what we featured last year:
  • The V-Day Store's V-Gifts, including their collection of items handmade by women in the Democratic Republic of Congo through the Healing Arts program. (We mentioned this again recently on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.)
  • Global Sistergoods - a sister-owned small business that imports fairly-traded crafts from women artisans from around the world and provides a living wage to economically disadvantaged women in fragile economies by supporting entrepreneurship, self-reliance and micro enterprise development. "We sustain traditional craftmaking techniques as we provide high-quality products and educate consumers about women's issues in the countries our artisans live in. Global Sistergoods believes strongly in the value of 'women's work.'"
  • ~Nest is another organization designed to support businesswomen and artists in the developing world. Here's how it works--Nest provides loans to women around to world "to be used for the purchase of the supplies and materials necessary to begin and/or maintain art or craft-based businesses". The money for the loans comes from a line of products created for Nest by established designers. You can also buy products from the loan recipients on Nest's website, and they use the money that they earn to pay back their loan.
  • The Shop to Save the World campaign, also run by Nest, with the goal of eliminating poverty worldwide. Anyone who sells their own merchandise can join this campaign by choosing an item to be their "Nest item" and agreeing to donate 25% of the profits from the sale of that item to Nest, which they will use for their loan program. So if you sell your own stuff (or you know any super-talented people who do), consider joining up and helping some more super-talented women all over the world.
  • And, of course, supporting independent women in business by checking out Bust's Girl Wide Web and searching sites like Etsy.

And here are this year's additions:
  • The MADRE Webstore - "MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably; in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and in which people have a meaningful say in decisions that affect their lives. MADRE’s vision is enacted with an understanding of the inter-relationships between the various issues we address and by a commitment to working in partnership with women at the local, regional, and international levels who share our goals. MADRE sells unique items that were hand-crafted by women from our sister organizations. The products—from beaded jewelry made by women in Kenya to woven textiles made by women in Chiapas, Mexico—include all sorts of jewelry, household items, and clothing made by women around the world. The products range in style and quantity, but they all speak to the principle of helping to build sustainable sources of income in the communities where we work."
[Hand-beaded ornament from the Umoja Women's Group in Kenya]

  • The RAINN Online Store - The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. (It's also a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine.) They've got shirts, mugs, jewelry, a Tori Amos benefit calendar, and other cool stuff, and 100% of the proceeds from the store go to the fight to end sexual assault.

  • The Step Up Women's Network is "a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls. Through teen empowerment programs for underserved girls, women's health education and advocacy, professional mentorship and social networking opportunities, we educate and activate our members to ensure that women and girls have the tools they need to create a better future." Their motto is "Invest, Involve and Inspire", and in addition to all of the cool stuff in their shop, they also have a program called "You Are My Inspiration". Here's how it works - you give a gift of $50 or more in honor of a woman who inspires you. Your recipient gets a customized card, you both get matching designer necklaces from jewelry designer Isabelle Bijoux, you get to post a photo and message honoring your inspiration to Step Up's site, and the gift benefits an under-served teenage girl by providing things like a trip to visit a college or supplies needed to participate in a Step Up program.

  • PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics - PeaceKeeper is an all-benefit company which is "the first cosmetics line to give all of its after-tax distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues". They're committed to exploitation-free labor, fair wages, and general pro-woman ethical social justice goodness. Check out their products and while you're on the site, get the info on the Kiss Campaign - send in a kiss and a donation that goes to a fund that supports the education of a girl who has left indentured servitude or the sex slave trade.

  • Antigone Magazine's Dreams for Women 2009 Calendar - "The Dreams for Women art project asks women and men of all ages to tell us what their dreams are for women by painting, drawing, writing, sketching or decoupaging them onto a postcard. Postcards are posted every second Saturday on the Antigone Magazine blog." They think of it as kinda like a feminist version of PostSecret. The calendar has some of the blog readers' favorite postcards from the past year. The money that is donated to the Dreams for Women project will help launch the Antigone Foundation, a national organization that will encourage young women aged 10-30 to become politically and civically engaged, and to actively participate in leadership roles. The calendar proceeds are going towards the launch of Antigone for Girls, a magazine for girls aged 10-15 that will encourage them to get involved in leadership, politics and activism. The calendars are $20 Canadian with a $3 shipping fee, but you can get a bulk discount if you want to give the calendars to business clients or resell them to fundraise for a nonprofit group.

  • New Moon Store - Speaking of positive media for girls: "New Moon Girl Media is the leader in products that help girls reach their full potential. Maker of girl-created, advertising-free communities where girls learn to recognize and resist gender stereotypes, New Moon Girl Media serves girls ages 8 to 15 and brings their voices to the world. We offer products for every girl who wants her voice heard and her dreams taken seriously and for every adult who cares about girls." The proceeds from the store help to keep New Moon Girls ad free.

As we said last year, you don't have to be trying to change the world every time you buy something. But if you think outside the big box stores (ha ha), there's so much cool (and affordable) stuff out there made by talented women all over the world. With a little searching you can find some unique and interesting and beautiful thing that support unique and interesting and beautiful women and causes, and choosing these things instead of a 'normal' gift will be more meaningful for you, the person you give the gift to, and the person who made the gift for you. We all benefit. And we'll take that over a trip to the mall any day.

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