Female Holding Gift via Shutterstock

10 Holiday Gift Ideas That Empower Women To Rise Above Poverty

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Throughout the world, women are the backbone of their communities and their families. So it is no surprise then that so many brands exist with the sole mission to help empower women in the most vulnerable circumstances, be it addiction, poverty, incarceration, prostitution, or lack of opportunity and education. Every single one of the following 10 brands is creating economic opportunity for women through artisanry, skills training, and access to global markets. The impact is a ripple effect across the entire community. This holiday season consider giving the gift of empowerment to women through a purchase from one of these 10 do-good brands and know that the artisan who hand-crafted your product is receiving a fair wage for their work and a hand up in creating a better life for themselves and their children.

1. Humanity Unified

Humanity Unified  is a socially conscious lifestyle brand for the traveler, dreamer and changemaker that donates 100 percent of net profits to Humanity Unified International, a nonprofit dedicated to lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty through education, food security projects and economic opportunities. They start by investing in women. The net proceeds from all sales support a farming cooperative project for 100 Rwandan women living in extreme poverty with health, rights and business education along with the tools, training and inputs necessary to thrive as smallholder farmers.

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Gift Suggestion: Accomplish the Impossible tee, $15 USD

2. Indego Africa

Indego Africa is a fashion brand also benefiting women in Rwanda. They work with more than 800 female artisans helping them to break the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. 100% of the profits from every item sold go towards funding job skills training programs for the artisans in the subjects of business management, technology, entrepreneurship, and English & Kinyarwanda literacy.

Gift Suggestion: Hanging Flower Pot, $45 USD

Hanging Flower Pot, $45 - Hand woven by the artisans of Imirasire in Rwanda out of sweetgrass locally grown in Rwanda.
Hanging Flower Pot, $45 USD – Handwoven by the artisans of Imirasire in Rwanda out of sweetgrass locally grown in Rwanda.

3. Raven + Lily

Raven + Lily is working with more than 1,500 marginalized women in Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Cambodia, Guatemala, Pakistan, Malaysia, Haiti, and the USA. Their mission is to empower these women to rise above poverty by providing them with a safe, stable job, sustainable income, health care, and education. Every product sold meets fair trade standards and honors Raven + Lily’s commitment to the environment.

Gift Suggestion: Napkin Set, $34 USD

Napkin Set, $34 - screen printed by hand on repurposed remnant linen. Your purchase empowers at-risk women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to break the cycle of poverty and provide for their families.
Napkin Set, $34 USD – Screen printed by hand on re-purposed remnant linen by at-risk women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

4. FashionABLE

FashionABLE was created to share what women are able to do when provided with the opportunity to work a sustainable job. They work with women in Ethiopia and Nashville, TN who have overcome a variety of challenges including everything from addiction to being the victims of sex trafficking.

Gift Suggestion: Sisay Striped Scarf, $38 USD

Sisay Striped Scarf, $38 - Handwoven in Ethiopia and made from 100% Egyptian cotton
Sisay Striped Scarf, $38 USD – Handwoven in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and made from 100% Ethiopian cotton.

5. Akola

Akola means “she works” in the local Ugandan dialect where this fashion brand found its start. Offering vocational skills training and employment to Uganda’s and, as of 2014, Dallas’s marginalized female populations, Akola is empowering women who lack the vocational skills and education necessary to be the sole providers that they are for their families. In Uganda, many of the women have overcome everything from the HIV/AIDS crisis to a 20-year civil war, widowhood, and displacement. 100% of product sales are reinvested in Akola’s social mission to empower women.

Gift Suggestion: Collar, $76 USD

Collar, $76 - Hand-crafted by empowered women in Uganda from three strands of hand-rolled paper beads finished in a non-toxic varnish.
Collar, $76 USD – Hand-crafted by empowered women in Uganda from hand-rolled paper beads.

6. Malambo

Malambo is working with disadvantaged Wayuu artisans in Northern Colombia through the production of mochila bags and ethno-inspired jewelry crafted by the same methods Wayuu women have been employing for centuries. In Wayuu culture, women are the center of society and weaving is their way of expressing and supporting themselves. Every Malambo purchase helps to ensure these women can continue their craft and sustain themselves and their families.

Gift Suggestion: Baru Eco Mochila Bag, $109 USD

Baru Eco Mochila Bag, $109 USD - Fair trade hand-crocheted and hand-dyed mochila bag made with sustainably harvested natural fiber. Your purchase empowers artisans in Colombia living in poverty.
Baru Eco Mochila Bag, $109 USD – Fair trade, hand-crocheted and hand-dyed mochila bag made with sustainably harvested natural fiber by Wayuu artisans in Colombia.

7. Global Goods Partners

Global Goods Partners curates beautiful products crafted by female artisans around the world, offering them a fair wage for their goods and a U.S. market to sell them to. They then channel each product’s sales back into the low-income community in which it was made, providing women artisans the world over with an opportunity to better their lives for themselves and their families. They currently work with more than 40 groups in 20 countries providing them with technical assistance, product development, operational expertise and small capacity building grants.

Gift Suggestion: Large Geo Dyed Journal, $24 USD

Large Geo Dyed Journal, $24 USD - Made by artisans in India from hand-dyed cotton.
Large Geo Dyed Journal, $24 USD – Made by artisans in India from hand-dyed cotton.

8. Rags2Riches

Rags2Riches partners with Filipino artisans born into poverty and helps them to apply their skills towards creating a better life for themselves, their family, and their communities. Their dream is that one day a Filipino born into poverty won’t have to remain in poverty. Their products are made out of upcycled and overstock cloth, locally sourced materials, and indigenous fabrics.

Gift Suggestion: Bianca, $83 USD

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Bianca, $83 USD – Made from authentic cowhide leather and handwoven Maltese fabric by the weavers of Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), an NGO assisting Filipino women migrants from Japan and their Japanese-Filipino children in the promotion of their human rights and welfare.

9. Proud Mary

Proud Mary is a sustainable design business working with indigenous women in Mexico, Mali, Lesotho, Peru and Morocco to foster economic opportunity and preservation of their craft. Proud Mary products combine a more modern, trendy design aesthetic with the traditional methods of the artisans. Each artisan sets their own fair wage and Proud Mary works to ensure a consistent flow of orders continue to pour in for them.

Gift Suggestion: Rainbow Blanket Shawl, $260 USD

Rainbow Blanket Shawl, $260 USD - Hand woven by artisans in Peru from a blend of alpaca, wool, and acrylic.
Rainbow Blanket Shawl, $260 USD – Handwoven by artisans in Peru from a blend of alpaca, wool, and acrylic.

10. 31Bits

31Bits is on a mission to use fashion and design to empower women in Uganda to rise above poverty. Every 31Bits artisan goes through a holistic 5-year program that provides them with the necessary skills and resources to become healthy, confident, and financially stable and successful providers for their families. Their products are crafted from locally sourced materials including recycled paper and printed fabrics.

Gift Suggestion: Brooklyn Nights Bracelet + Spiced Strands Necklace Gift Set, $99

Brooklyn Nights Bracelet + Spiced Strands Necklace Gift Set, $99 - Made from recycled paper beads flecked with gold leafing by artisans in Uganda.
Brooklyn Nights Bracelet + Spiced Strands Necklace Gift Set, $99 USD – Made from recycled paper beads flecked with gold leafing by artisans in Uganda.

Feature photo Female Artisans via Shutterstock

About the Writer

amber dunlapAmber Dunlap is an aspiring travel writer from Colorado dipping her toes into the profession here at The Culture-ist. Currently, she is prepping for a year abroad in Peru where she hopes to pick up the Spanish language, dive into the local culture, draw inspiration for her writing, and most importantly stretch her comfort zone to new depths. She’s an explorer and an adventurer, finding her bliss when in new places, under new roofs, and humbled by nature. Writing is her tool for processing and inspiring others to get out there and engage in this beautiful world. Find her on Twitter @Amber_Dunlap.

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