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    WE ARE MORE THAN – INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY AT BAGS OF ETHICS

    International women’s day. A day not defined by race, occupation, class, status, group or any deciding factor other than the female gender. It is a day shared by women across the world on the 8th March every year, and is a celebration of both how far we as women have come in the struggle for equality, but also looks to further the developmental acceleration of women’s rights across the globe. No one organization is responsible for this day, it is represented globally by all those who value the women who are so integral to their success. At Bags of EthicsTM, we are proud supporters, believers and cheerleaders for women, both in our business, and across the world. We believe in bolstering and building up the women who are defying gendered societal boundaries and excelling in what they do, they are an integral part of our business, and we want to remember and recognize the key part that they play in our success.

    Whilst gender equality and women’s rights have developed rapidly and exponentially in the last century, globally there is still a lot to be done. That is why International Women’s Day is necessary for both remembering our progress and success, but also for taking action to make the world an even better place for our daughters and granddaughters.

    This IWD we are celebrating some of the wonderful women both in our business, and our clients businesses.  We base our core ethos on remembering the people behind the product. The people who produce each and every tote, tea-towel and travel bag all have histories, stories and attributes that we focus on remembering and celebrating, they are more than just tailors and packers, they are people.

    Sisters are doing it for themselves

    Our factory in Pondicherry, South India, has a 90% female workforce. In every aspect of production women hold the roles of supervision, skilled-roles for which they are naturally equipped for, and excel at. We have an incredibly low staff turnover rate, with most women having joined us in 2006 and staying ever since, this is incredibly rare in the textile industry. They have celebrated hundreds of milestones with their “sisters” in the factory – marriages, births, deaths, they have been together and supported each other through every stage of life. Many have difficult home circumstances and so have become the main breadwinners for their families, taking on financial responsibility.

     

    We are more than –

    There is a fiery sense of optimism and equality in the factory, the women are exuberant, strong, and opinionated, and are seen as immediate equals to their male colleagues, all who show them the respect they deserve on a daily basis, again something which is incredibly rare in this kind of industry. Whilst showing extreme skill in their work with highly technical machinery, colour-mixing and merchandising, they also show natural talent for things like art, dance and music – they are more than just their roles in the factory. And if they couldn’t get badass enough, many travel to the factory on motorbikes and scooters, proving that global gender boundaries are capable of being smashed.

    Not just one day –

    We don’t just celebrate them today, our love of who they are and what they do spans across 365 days a year, their names are sewn into our products, their smiles shown as a constant reminder to remember the people, the souls, the personalities, the lives, the craftsmanship, the beating hearts, behind the product.

    And its not just the incredible women who we get to call our Bags of Ethics family that are so integral to our business, many of our wonderful clients are strong, remarkable women who are doing great things. We want to celebrate their stories, and understand what makes them proud to be a woman. Here is what they had to say:

    Mathilde Cabanas – Founder of Mathilde Cabanas, French gift and accessories brand

    What does international women’s day mean to you?

    It’s a day that celebrate women, it allows us to speak openly about inequality between men and women, women right all around the world and patriarchy.

    What makes you proud to be a woman?

     I’m especially proud to be a woman these days. I’m so impressed by all the women who speaks up and make the world change. 

    Have you faced any gender based challenges as a woman in business? 

    For sure. I mean almost each time I have to work with a man I tell myself that it would be different if I had a woman in front of me instead. But the most challenging thing I have to face is to raise my 3 kids while managing my own company.       

    Do you have a woman who inspires you the most? 

    There’s a lot of women that inspires me those days, Greta Thunberg, Beyonce, Adele Haenel… But the strongest woman I know is my mother.

    Do you have any words of wisdom for other women who are striving for their own success? 

    Failures are part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn you’ll never change.

    Do you have any questions to ask our wonderful manufacturing team of women in India?

    What’s your everyday joy? For you the best feeling in the world?

    We posed Punitha, one of our wonderful tailors, Mathilde’s question, and here was her answer:

    What is something that brings you joy every day?

    My real joy is my work and music in the work place.

     

    What does it mean to be a working woman?

    I am solely responsible for running my family and I work for betterment of my children’s education. As a woman I feel proud of myself and hard work gives me happiness.

     

    We also posed the same questions to Gemma – founder of Muthahood, a female celebratory brand, who’s slogan, “strong girls club”, is worn by mothers, daughters, and sisters alike, who believe that “strong is the new pretty”. Here is what she had to say:

    What does international women’s day mean to you?

    IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the power of the girl, to really get the conversation started about what it means to be a woman and how striving for equality is positive for all of us.

    What makes you proud to be a woman?

    Seeing my girls grow up, and teaching them to own the space in which they stand has made me incredibly proud to be a woman. They’ve given me the confidence to see myself in a better light, to speak more kindly of myself and to stand taller. I want to be a role model of confidence for them.

    Have you faced any gender based challenges as a woman in business?

    I’d be surprised if anyone hasn’t to be honest. I once worked in a very male dominated industry and was fully aware of the pay differences that all of the freelancers were facing, especially the women. I was once sat side by side with a man doing exactly the same job, with the same level experience and yet when the credits rolled at the end of the programme which we’d been making I was given the title of a much lower, almost negligible role, compared to him. Sadly, I didn’t play snooker or golf or watch the football with the boss. 

    Do you have a woman who inspires you the most?

    My Mum. She was a single Mum when I was three and she worked in IT in the City during a time when women were few and far between. She would rock the briefcase, the shoulder pads and oversized spectacles during the day, and cover my room in Care Bear wallpaper at the weekend.  She spinned all the plates expected of the modern day woman and she did it like a total boss.

    Do you have any words of wisdom for other women who are striving for their own success?

    Do not expect anyone to be your cheerleader, that is your job. Never diminish your achievements for fear of appearing too ‘braggy,’ you need to shout about what you’ve accomplished and be proud.

    Do you have any questions to ask our wonderful manufacturing team of women in India?

    Do you know that you’re the reason our product is so good? That you’re not just integral to your business but to mine too? In short, do you know YOUR worth? 

    We posed Gemma’s question to several members of the tailoring team, who said that said that they love making our product and that they have a lot of community pride about the product through BOE.

    These are just the stories of a few women who we have had the privilege of crossing paths with. There are 3.8 billion other women on this planet, all with their own stories, triumphs and successes. Take this day as a reminder to remember all the incredible things that we as women have done, do, and continue to do. We run businesses, we run marathons, we lift weights, we raise families, villages even, we fight battles, we save lives, we impact, we develop, we contribute and we create. Why? Because we can. We are more than our background, our career, our appearance, we are women, and we can do anything.

    Daisy from Bags of EthicsTM

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