Empowering Women through Design
US-based social enterprise Raven + Lily has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide market access and sustainable livelihoods to over 2,000 women from impoverished communities.
While women’s labour contributes a sizable share of the global economy, and studies have shown that much of the income women earn goes to benefit their families. Yet women’s work is rarely recognized or rewarded on par with men’s: in many countries, women are exploited for below-living wages in factories, and human trafficking of women as sex workers is all too common. With low wages comes a lack of decision-making power, dignity and confidence.
Social entrepreneur Kirsten Dickerson recognized the critical role of women in breaking the cycle of poverty. The mission of the ethical fashion company she founded, Raven + Lily is to benefit impoverished people and the planet, as well as to turn a profit and ensure sustainability. The company’s inclusive business model empowers women in countries across the world through their involvement in the design and production of unique, eco-friendly clothes and accessories. By partnering with artisan groups, Raven + Lily is able to reach women in remote areas, and tap into their traditional design knowledge and expertise.
To date, the company has partnered with 19 of these groups, representing 1,500 women globally. For the women artisans it works with, Raven + Lily provides unprecedented market access and design input as well as fair wages – empowering women artisans to take control of their lives as they support their families.
The organizations the company partners with are helping to transform the lives of human trafficking victims, formerly homeless and other vulnerable women by providing them with dignified work and decent pay. One organization in Peru is helping indigenous women to preserve their traditional way of life through the production of handicrafts. As a result of their partnerships with Raven + Lily, artisans’ incomes average 20 percent above local living wages. With this income, they are accessing better housing and health care, their families are eating more nutritious foods and their children are attending school for longer.
As part of its BCtA commitment, by 2018, Raven + Lily is working to ensure that its fabric supply chain is 100 percent eco-friendly and fair trade. As Raven + Lily scales up around the world, its team aims to integrate an additional 500 women into its value chain by 2020.