March 22nd is World Water Day, a day to bring attention to the over 600 million people in the world without access to clean water. Access to clean water and sanitation are key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty, and women and girls are the most highly impacted when lacking those basic human necessities.
In many areas girls miss out on school because they spend most of their day walking miles to collect water for their families. Girls who do make it to school often drop out once menstruation begins due to lack of facilities. UNICEF reports that approximately 6,000 children die of water related diseases every day, most under the age of five.
Photo: Elizabeth Atalay
WaterAid is the leading international nonprofit in the clean water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and has called on Congress to oppose the proposed 28.7% cut to funding for the US Agency for International Development and Department of State, proposed in the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint. WaterAid states that this action is “out of line with America’s priorities, US moral leadership, national security interests, and the needs of poor and vulnerable people worldwide.” I stand with WaterAid in calling on Congress to fully fund international assistance.
The recently launched WaterAid #GirlStrong campaign takes aim at the inequalities faced disproportionately by women and girls who live without clean water and proper sanitation. Access to clean water opens up access to better health, and more time for education. It is estimated that somewhere around 260 billion dollars are lost from the global economy due to reduced productivity and health care costs from illnesses linked to lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and hygiene. Watch the video below to see more reasons why access to clean water needs to be a priority for all.
In honor of International Women’s Day I received a box of beautiful handmade products from Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program to introduce me to a few of their artisans. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. A notecard in the box read:
“Hello, by opening this gift, you’re opening a world of possibility for women across the world.”
These are a few of the gorgeous handmade items from the 5by20 collection
March 8th is International Women’s Day, and I’m happy to celebrate by supporting Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs around the world by 2020. #5by20 provides access to skills training, financial resources, and mentorship to women worldwide to help them rise out of poverty. Having witnessed first hand the type of impact that programs like 5by20 can have on a community I am excited to share what Coca-Cola is doing to help improve the lives of millions of women around the world. When you invest in women, through education and economic empowerment, the entire community benefits. Studies show that women reinvest 90% of their income back into their home, towards food, education for their children, and healthcare for their families.
We each have purchasing power as consumers, and as a woman, I love to support companies that exhibit corporate social responsibility and to buy from female artisans where I know that my purchase actually makes a positive impact in someone else’s life. I love that the 5by20 program focuses significantly on female artisans as I have seen the positive impact similar programs in South Africa, Ethiopia, and most recently Haiti have had on the women and their families. The women I met all took great pride in their handcrafted products, and in being given a “hand-up” in the opportunity to develop their business in a sustainable way, rather than a one-time handout of charity. The beautiful handmade product samples that I received from the 5by20 artisans came from the countries of Brazil, Turkey, Kenya, Mexico, and the Philippines. Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program began in 2010 and has already reached 1.2 million women across 60 countries.
Jocelyn Pacrin, pictured above, is a mother of four, just like me. She is also supporting her children on her own while living in a squatter’s area of Manila in the Philippines. Despite facing challenges after leaving an abusive husband Jocelyn is optimistic for her family’s future. Due to the training that she received from a Coca-Cola 5by20 local partner organization, the Philippine Community Fund, she is able to build a better future for herself and her children. Jocelyn was taught how to make jewelry, handbags, and other accessories using recycled beverage packaging. The women involved in the program work together, providing a built in network and inspiring support group for each other. The income that Jocelyn now earns will help her to provide education for her children and improve their living situation as her business grows. Mother’s around the world share the common desire to provide for their children and to see them thrive. The 5by20 initiative addresses the most common barriers that women face when entering the marketplace. By giving women like Jocelyn access to training courses, financial services and mentorship Coca-Cola’s 5by20 helps them gain the tools they need to succeed. The ripple effect of their success allows mothers to provide their children with the proper nutrition and education that they need to get ahead in life as well.
I received a PCF Narrow Ring-Pull bracelet made from recycled aluminum can pull tabs from the Philippines like the ones that Jocelyn now produces.
Coca-Cola is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world with sales in over 200 countries. It is a brand name that people even in the most remote communities of the globe are familiar with, and trust. Coca-Cola is leveraging that global reach and taking corporate social responsibility to make the world a better place by establishing clean water initiatives, aiding with health care supply chain and distribution partnerships, and economic empowerment initiatives for women around the globe. The 5by20 artisans are repurposing and diverting discarded packaging from landfill sites while improving their lives. By 2020 the ripple effect of 5 million women being impacted by Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative will have helped to shape not only their lives, and those of their children, but also the communities in which they live.
Check out the touching video below to meet a few of the artisans as they share their hopes and dreams for the future:
To purchase any of the beautiful handmade items created by 5by20 artisans like the gorgeous Coletivo Piroquet Handbag below made from recycled PET scales in Brazil visit the 5by20 store.
In Haiti I stocked up on heart shaped art pieces while on my recent trip to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line. The art of Haiti is beautiful, and the hearts depicted everywhere throughout are part of the reason that it resonated so much with me. Haitian art is heavily influenced by Vodou veves, or symbols, and the heart represents the goddess of love, Erzulie. These pieces make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts because when you purchase them you are helping to support Haitian artisans and their families. It is like giving twice, and you don’t have to travel to Haiti to find them since Macy’s partners with the Artisans and carries Heart of Haiti products online and in their stores.
While in Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow I had the opportunity to visit the FashionAble factory where I met women waving beautiful scarves and better lives. Since then FashionAble has branched out into leather goods and jewelry and I am in love with their new lines. Each piece gives back to those building a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Give your honey some honey! My father was a bee keeper so I grew up harvesting and eating honey on everything. Honey and Honey bees have a special place in my heart so when I saw that the February Roost Crate “Farmer’s market in a box” was dedicated to honey I had to order one as a gift to myself! A Roost Crate “you’re the Bee’s knees” box would also make a super sweet gift to your honey! If your sweetheart is a foodie you might just sign them up for one of the subscription options and keep the love flowing month after month!
(RED) always has fantastic partnerships and proceeds from (RED) products go to the fight against HIV/AIDS. My favorite this Valentine’s Day is the (RED) app! How cute are these emojis?!? A cute, simple gift to download on your Valentine’s phone.
I love this local Rhode Island company that gives back globally. They have partnered with (RED) for a collection of bracelets that benefit The Global Fund. Perfect for your Valentine!
ALEX AND ANIl contributes 20% of the purchase price of each Heart of Strength Charm sold, with a minimum contribution of $25,000 between January 2017 and December 2017 to Global Fund to fight AIDS with (RED)®.
Reviewing the past year always helps me to move on to the new one, and here we are already heading into the last week of January! I just now feel like I’m catching up to the start of 2017! It doesn’t usually take me this long to re-group and find the quiet time that I need to reflect after the holidays end, the kids get back to school, and visits with family and friends slow down. The election results left me distracted this January, but the Women’s March in DC last weekend has helped me to get back on track. Now I feel I can really take a look back at what unfolded over the past year and start to set some new goals for the new one ahead.
With a busy work schedule in 2016 I posted less on my blog than I would have liked. While it was great to be busy, it left me finding less time for my own projects. I hope that in 2017 I can set aside time to do more with video and the writing that I love. Among my social media clients for the past two years I had the pleasure to work in strategic partnerships and as the Digital and Social Media Specialist for a local non-profit that I greatly admire. I worked with Edesia through the transition into a newly built factory where they produce life saving Plumpy’Nut and other ready-to-use foods to treat and prevent malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable populations. It was exciting to witness the progress from plans to the grand opening of this amazing facility that helps to save millions of children’s lives each year from right here in Rhode Island.
Other work highlights included attending the RESULTS conference in Washington, DC for the first time. RESULTS is a grassroots organization that builds momentum to tackle the complex and layered issues contributing to poverty. As a member of the RESULTS Social Media Corps I shared moments from the conference over digital channels highlighting the power to end poverty both at home and abroad through grassroots efforts. The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Conference was also held in Washington, DC, and in 2016 I spoke as a Champion Leader about shaping the narrative of global health. Both conferences are opportunities for constituents to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill to advocate for these important issues. A number of World Moms Network editors and contributors met up to attend the Social Good Summit in New York City during United Nations General Assembly week. As Managing Editor of World Moms Network I work with regional editors on each continent to support our global community of mothers and writers, During the same week I was part of a Twitter Takeover of the GAVI account along with a team of fellow Shot@Life Champion Leaders, keeping global vaccines front and center in the development conversation.
By far the most amazing opportunity for me this year was to travel to Haiti where we met Artisan Business Network artisans who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line. This was a dream trip for me where I soaked in a glimpse of the thriving visual arts culture that is everywhere you look. The Heart of Haiti program was launched in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake as a way to help the many talented Haitian artists rebuild through economic recovery. I was deeply touched by the testament to spirit and creativity displayed in the Haitian Artisans whom we were able to meet. I still have so many great stories to write from this trip I can’t wait to share.
Standing in the spot at the Ciragan Sarayi in Istanbul where we became engaged 20 years ago, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy & old town Split in Croatia
50th birthday celebrations inspired my husband and I to travel to some incredible destinations in 2016. Our travels took us to Scotland, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Turkey. With a growing appreciate for the fact that as our kids get older, our opportunities to travel as a family are dwindling, has also inspired us to take family trips each summer while we can. Last summer the six of us had a fantastic trip to Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia.
Coffee on the beach and meeting the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James.
I have to include the 2016 Nantucket Book Festival in my recap. Aside from Nantucket being one of my favorite places, the book festival is a heavenly event for any reader and writer.
Yes, 2017 has gotten off to a slow start, but attending the Women’s March on Washington last weekend gave me hope. Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who, despite our differences, all believe in human decency and basic human rights, made me feel that love will ultimately prevail. Bring it on 2017, I’m fired up!