Grace + Ivory proudly champions for women and girls all over the world. We’re a social enterprise and are committed to supporting women and girls in need, currently through Plan International’s The Girls’ Fund. Through their wedding dress, our brides support Plan International to achieve its goal of transforming the lives of 100 million girls by 2022.
This social mission has been at the center of our business model from the moment we were founded. We know that women are strong, brave, and kickass, and we want women and girls around the world to have the freedom to make their own choices. At Grace + Ivory, we believe in giving back to help women kick even more ass.
So why did we pick Plan International? First and foremost, it is a development and humanitarian organization that focuses on children’s rights and equality for girls. Girl’s rights? Yes please. Diving deeper, we saw the valuable programs that they’ve launched around the world to support girls and women battle issues like child marriage, education access, and equality. Supporting the Girls’ Fund was a no-brainer!
What kind of programs do they have, you ask? That’s what this blog post is here to tell you. But there’s too much to tell! So today, we want to show you some of the amazing work they do on just one issue: ending child marriage.
Of course, different societies have different views of marriage. In some places, widespread poverty means that families rely on collecting a dowry (or bride price) to help them survive. Sometimes, marriage is seen as a way to keep young girls from delinquency or prostitution. But can you imagine being told at age 12 that you have to marry someone twice your age? That’s what happened to Marnesh, a 15-year-old girl living in Ethiopia. She didn’t know she was getting married – or who she was marrying – until the day of the ceremony!
Child marriage is estimated to affect the lives of 12 million girls like Marnesh every year. That’s 12 million girls who see an early end to their childhood and education in order to raise a family and manage a household, whether they want to or not. In addition to losing access to education, these girls also lose the ability to decide when to have children and how many. They may even become victims of domestic abuse. When we support The Girls’ Fund, we support programs that will put an end to this practice.
Okay, so how is Plan International tackling child marriage? A lot of their programs are community-based, such as setting up child rights clubs and child-friendly spaces where girls can receive health advice, learn assertiveness skills, get entrepreneurship skills training, or simply play sports. The Girl Power Program helps girls access skills courses so that they can become economically independent. Girl Power groups also provide a support network that teaches girls about their rights and empowers them to speak out about the issues that affect them.
Take Ayalnesh, for example. She was trapped in an abusive marriage for 13 years after being forced to marry as a young girl. Now, she is a community leader determined to combat child marriage. When she hears that a family is planning to marry off their girls, she reports them. Badass!
Cliché as it sounds, we’re all for making the world a better place. Did you know that the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015? These 17 goals are an ambitious blueprint for creating a better, more sustainable future for all – and the deadline is 2030. While ending child marriage isn’t an explicit target, the practice hampers efforts to meet other goals, such as no poverty (goal #1), quality education (goal #4), gender equality (goal #5), decent work and economic growth (goal #8) and reduced inequalities within and between countries (goal #10). Solving this one issue can help us make progress on so many others. Pretty cool, right?
As you can see, Plan’s programs don’t just work to change mindsets around the cultural issue of child marriage. They give girls autonomy over their lives and bodies (SDG #5). They make sure that girls can stay in school and learn new skills (SDG #4). Their entrepreneurship programs help girls find work (SDG #8), lift them out of poverty (#1), and also level the playing field (#10).
We love Plan International for their grassroots, impact-focused approach. At Grace + Ivory, we are passionate about this kind of results-oriented, locally-driven development work that can change the lives of millions of girls worldwide. When you buy your beautiful, custom-made wedding dress from Grace + Ivory, you’re not only making an everlasting memory on your special day – you’re also empowering women around the world. We think that’s pretty kickass.
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Photos courtesy of Plan International.