By LAUREN SHUTTLEWORTH
It can be a seriously tough world to navigate if you’re a young woman. Everyday we’re dodging photo-shopped magazine covers, thigh gaps, pay gaps, cat-calls – even misogynist slogans on the back of old vans.
It’s a lot to contend with. Collectively and quietly, all of these words, images and stereotypes pack a pretty powerful punch. Sexism is rife, and yet the last place I expected to find it was on the front cover of a girl’s school book.
I was at the airport when I spotted it – on my way to the boarding gate, when I stopped to grab some supplies.
‘Boys, heels, blogs – let’s get back to the basics’.
Needless to say, these hugely disempowering words made me pretty mad. It was especially frustrating to see them written on a notebook – a place for knowledge, ideas and creativity, and on an item that girls and young women would use at school or university. Can you imagine the impact this would have, reading these words multiple times a day? Girls are smart, courageous and strong, and they deserve to be seen and represented as such.
Rather than stay mad, I decided to take action.
This month I’ve launched a social enterprise called Words With Heart. It’s an eco-friendly stationery brand that champions messages of empowerment and equality, and donates 50% of profits to charities working in women’s and girls education.
Incredibly, 66 million girls across the globe are not in school, and over two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. In the long term, almost every aspect of national productivity, from health to family planning, from women’s rights to economic productivity, is profoundly affected by girls education. I want to create positive change for girls and young women everywhere, and I believe supporting their right to education is the most powerful way to do this.
But I need your help.
In order to get Words With Heart up and running, I’m pre-selling our launch collection of stationery via the ING Direct Dreamstarter Initiative on StartSomeGood. I need to raise a minimum of $15,000 in the month of September, and so far I’m over half way to reaching this target.
I’m so passionate about the impact that Words With Heart can have for women’s and girls’ empowerment, and I know we can make it happen. Earlier this year I graduated from the School of Social Entrepreneurs, and I have sound business plan, strategy and systems in place, ready to go! If girls and women’s empowerment is something you’re interested in, I’d love you to visit our campaign, share it with your friends and family, and buy some impactful stationery. Together we change the world, one notebook at a time.