Supporting Gender Equality for the Holidays

Looking for ways to buy gifts and support gender equality at the same time? The Body Shop US is donating one dollar to Plan International USA for every holiday pre-packaged gift box and bag sold between November 1 and the end of the year. The money raised, up to a total of $50,000, will contribute to Plan USA’s work to empower girls globally. The program will enable 1,200 youth, through national leadership and advocacy programs, to transform gender norms by creating new narratives about girls focused on power, intelligence and capability.

Plan USA’s Youth Leadership Academy
Credit: Plan International USA

The impetus for the Body Shop’s “Empower Our Girls” donation are the results of a Plan International USA study on gender equality. Some stats from the survey:

• Barely one-fifth of girls (21%) say there is equality for girls now, compared to 44% of boys;

• Sexism is seen as big problem by 51% of girls ages 14-19, compared to 19% of boys;

• More than three-quarters (76%) of girls feel unsafe as a girl at least once in a while;

• Roughly the same percentage of girls (71%) and boys (75%) say a successful career is “very important” goal in their life, but there remains a lack of women in STEM-related or corporate leadership jobs;

• Over seventy percent of survey respondents have heard of the MeToo movement, but only 36% of girls and 28% of boys say a parent has talked to them about how to prevent or stop sexual harassment.

Accordingly, Plan International is raising awareness of gender inequality and how it affects girls (and boys) in their journey to adulthood. “For too long, the narrative about girls has been limiting, perpetuating a culture where girls feel undervalued,” said Shanna Marzilli, chief communications officer at Plan International USA. “For 80 years, our organization has been working to overturn this trend and this partnership with The Body Shop US presents such a great opportunity to further advance this cause. I’m excited to see the result of our efforts.”

Plan International USA is an independent development and humanitarian organization advancing girls’ equality and children’s rights. It is part of the Plan International network of collaborative partnerships between 21 national offices and more than 50 program offices. Plan International was established in 1937 by a journalist and refugee worker assisting children affected by the Spanish Civil war.

Body Shop US General Manager Andrea Blieden is a strong supporter of Plan International USA and its work on gender equity in young people. “This initiative is so near and dear to our founding. Our brand was born based on our founder’s strong feminist views, and so empowering young girls – and really women overall – is deep-rooted in our DNA.”

Credit: Plan International USA

The Body Shop was founded by Anita Roddick in Brighton, England in 1976 and sells ethically and sustainably-produced, naturally-inspired skincare, body care, hair care and make-up. The Body Shop pioneered the philosophy that business can be a force for good and this ethos is still the brand’s driving force. Its 3,000 retail locations are found in 66 countries.

Specifically, the Body Shop’s holiday campaign will directly support Plan’s Youth Leadership Academy (YLA), which will engage and train youth to participate as active citizens in their communities. The YLA is a residential academy, where 50-60 students, mostly girls ages 14-18, are selected each year to participate in a week-long program aimed to equip them with leadership, advocacy, and communication skills.

Through the program, selected participants will have access to workshops hosted by international development professionals and are given the opportunity to apply and practice their newly acquired skills within their own communities. Each student will design a Leadership Development Project over the course of the YLA to address at least one Sustainable Development Goal within their community.

Other companies leveraging retail sales to benefit feminist causes include J. Crew’s Garments for Good program (a collection creating positive change through partnerships with organizations that are making an impact in which 50% of each item’s retail price goes straight to the partner charity), and Sephora Stands (which includes a range of programs, initiatives and trainings around inclusivity, gender equity, sustainability and body positivity, as well as donations to groups promoting gender and racial justice).

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Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

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Author: Tim Lehnert

Tim Lehnert is a writer and editor who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island. His articles and essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Monthly, the Boston Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere. He is the author of the book Rhode Island 101, and has published short fiction for kids and adults in a number of literary journals and magazines. He received an M.A. in Political Science from McGill University, and an M.A. in English from California State University, Northridge.

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