Today is International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
We wanted to use this opportunity to tell you about some of the fantastic, brave and inspiring women that we have met and had the privilege to work with through The Sophie Hayes Foundation.
This amazing charity empowers survivors of trafficking to build hope-filled futures. They work to enable survivors to build independent, purposeful lives following their experiences. It was set up and inspired by Sophie Hayes and a small team in January 2012, and supports women here in the UK. Sophie's story breaks stereotypes and preconceptions to show a reality: human trafficking is one of the world’s fastest growing crimes and is something that could happen to anyone.
For the last twenty years, I have worked with women in Fair Trade projects around the world, many of whom have been marginalised and dealt a poor hand in life. I have taught new skills, learnt new skills and together we have collaborated to make beautiful products to sell. One of the things that has always struck me is the healing power of learning how to make things and make them well. Fair Trade is not only about paying a fair wage; it is about training, capacity building and empowerment, which are all key values of Just Trade.
When The Sophie Hayes Foundation approached us to support their Day 46 Programme, we jumped at the chance. We offered three of the bravest ladies we have ever met an internship in jewellery making. We covered basic metal working skills and more recently colouring aluminium and wax carving. For us, it has been pure joy to see the happiness that the women get out of making a piece of jewellery they could wear home at the end of the day. All of those taking part in the London wide programme saw significant self-reported increases in their confidence, resilience and employability. We are looking forward to a continued partnership with The Sophie Hayes Foundation this year and already have a whole list of new skills that we want to teach and learn together!