GIG Social Good Spotlight:
WORLDWOMENWORK – Conservation, Education, and Empowerment In partnership with women and girls around the world
by Marcia Estarija Silva
What is WorldWomenWork?
Founded by Singer Rankin, WorldWomenWork (WWW) partners with women artisans and activists in some of the most remote parts of the world. WWW purchases beautiful, unique products from small, women-owned enterprises - such as Zambian tablecloths and bedspreads, Pashmina shawls, handmade silver bracelets from Nepal, and beaded leather bags and belts from Kenya - then sells them to women all over the United States.
What is WWW’s mission? What big changes is it trying to make?
Nearly 100% of the proceeds from sales support projects by women in Kenya, Nepal, Indonesia, and 11 other countries that are educating girls, building economic independence for women, and protecting the environment. It’s a unique and effective social enterprise model.
How is WWW using its power to help others?
By providing a steady stream of income that is reinvested in order to grow the enterprise. WWW buys extremely precious, one-of-a-kind items that are made by hand out of materials that are traditional and completely sustainable. Women become more economically independent and diverse perspectives are shared. Women are also encouraged to learn about and be active participants on the issues impacting their communities and environment.
What inspires WWW to do this?
Singer Rankin, founder of WWW, explained – “I feel passionately about the natural world and the need to protect it, the people and animals that inhabit these wild places. One of the most important ways is to educate and empower women. I truly believe that they are one of the few hopes of preserving endangered species. The world is out of control. We have lost the ability to connect with nature. It takes such a little bit to change lives and give people hope.”
What is WWW focusing on now?
Current WWW projects include:
• Waka Simba (Women of Strength) and Simba Raishe (God’s Power) Womens' Groups, Zambia – These two women’s groups provide economic empowerment and skills training. WWW provides funding to send five women to sewing school for six months and to purchase sewing machines for their use. These groups are based in two villages where large mining interests threaten the natural environment. Group members have the opportunity to see the big picture and participate in decisions about the way their lands are being used.
• Scholarships for Girls, The Greater Himalayan Foundation, Nepal – The Nepalese government schools provide free basic education up to class 10 (roughly 10th grade in the US), but families must pay to have their children get an education past that point. With scarce resources, Nepalese families often choose to have boys continue schooling, while girls are left behind. Scholarships from WWW give girls a chance to continue their educational pursuits.
• Save the Elephants in Samburu, Kenya (an anti-poaching and scholarship program) and Elephant Nature Park, Thailand (a sanctuary for abused elephants) – WWW supports efforts to protect elephants and educate the public about the importance of saving them. At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are an estimated 450,000 - 700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 - 40,000 wild Asian elephants. Many of the elephants living in the sanctuary have suffered terrible trauma from accidents and mistreatment during their lives.
How can GIGSTERS get involved and support WorldWomenWork?
• Donate money to WWW
• Shop for products on WWW’s online store
• Sign up for WWW's newsletter and help spread the word about WWW's work to your networks
Video credit: Swell Pictures Inc.