As International Women’s Day approaches, I pause to reflect on the growth and impact that Dress for Success Worldwide has achieved over the 22 years since its inception, as well as women’s global status in the evolving climate of gender equality and female empowerment.
The International Women’s Day concept was started in 1909 in New York City by a group of revolutionaries and is now recognized, if not always celebrated, around the world with culture and local politics dictating its societal resonance. In Italy women receive flowers from men on March 8; in Iran and Egypt gatherers have, in the recent past, suffered violent rebukes. In the United States, we do not recognize the day as a national holiday as some countries do, however numerous awareness campaigns and fundraising activities spotlight women’s achievements and continued challenges and help benefit women.
Dress for Success Campaign:
Dress for Success is a global, non-profit organization whose mission is to lift women out of poverty and to help them achieve economic independence. We are honoring International Women’s Day by kicking-off a global campaign http://www.yourhourherpower.org
We are asking people to donate one hour of their pay to support a woman entering our program, where she will receive work attire and access to professional and personal service to help her secure a job and thrive in work and in life. While we are widely known for the “dress” we do so much more and are in need of generous donations to help us serve the many deserving women that come through our doors.
Why Dress for Success?
As Board Chair for the last two years, I was drawn to Dress for Success many years ago because it was the sole organization of its kind. It offered women not only confidence building attire but also practical programs to support them in their professional and personal life journeys. It grew quickly and globally because the need was great and “it” (women helping women) worked. It proved to be sustainable. Some of our “graduates” have been with us for 20 years, volunteering to give back to other women; others have become part of our executive team. Marking her own 20th anniversary at the organization this February, Joi Gordon, our visionary CEO, has vastly grown the organization internationally and mentored countless clients who have become like family to her.
Dress for Success reaches across international borders of 29 countries and is active in the United States, Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, New Zealand, South America, and the West Indies. Started in a tiny church basement in New York City, we are now flourishing in 152 locations.
According to a 2018 World Bank Study, equal pay, equal hours, and equal participation in the global workforce for women could lead to a global wealth jump of US $23,620 per person as well as critical benefits for women and their families. These include a safe home, enhanced health & wellness and access to improved education.
We are proud to say that we positively and directly impact not only the empowerment of women but the entire planet. When women rise, so do communities. To date, we have helped 1M+ women on their journey to financial independence; 57% of our clients are working mothers and the majority of those mothers support at least three children. 42% of them are head of household.
Leveraging International Women’s Day for our global campaign allows us to shine a light on the women we serve globally and their success stories and also shine a brighter light on the obstacles we still face. March 8th not only calls for a celebration of female achievement but also to take action on our global campaign, “Your Hour, Her Power”.
Now more than ever, as caring global citizens, we must come together to support all women from all walks of life.