This Social Enterprise Helps Women See Strategies for Giving Up-Close

secret sisterhood

Jacquie Love becoming a student for the day at ZOE International rescue house in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

As feminist strategies in philanthropy continue to grow, new organizations are being created to serve the needs of this sector.  Among these new organizations is the Secret Sisterhood, founded by Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Jacquie Love. Launched in the second half of 2017, the enterprise reports already having 40,000 women in its network.

Along with creating jewelry that celebrates gender equality and women’s leadership, the Secret Sisterhood conducts “philanthropic journeys” —  travel events in the developing world that offer women an opportunity to see first-hand how philanthropy can aid in gender equality movements. The journeys have four aims — empowering female entrepreneurs in developing nations, reducing human trafficking, eliminating violence against women, and providing education for girls.

One upcoming journey for the Secret Sisterhood will be to Thailand and Cambodia, and involves studying the history of genocide under the Khmer Rouge, as well as witnessing work with at-risk children in the red-light district of Phnom Penh. Over the course of the 11 day itinerary, women learn about strategies for educating girls and micro-financing women entrepreneurs. To delve further into microfinancing, the trip will take participants to the Grameen Australia chicken farm in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  With support from Grameen, the chicken farm employs women who were formerly dumpster-scavenging, earning less than $2 a day.

The Secret Sisterhood’s upcoming March 30 to April 8 philanthropic journey will take a deeper dive into the issue of human trafficking by visiting ZOE International, a foundation in Thailand that applies a holistic approach to child victims of trafficking. A video (below) from a survivor of child trafficking shows how the program is able to reach children and give them a chance to recover and pursue a better life.

While these are difficult topics to look at close-up, it is by this process that philanthropists often figure out important pieces to their strategy puzzle. Along with these challenging explorations, the trip also provides ample time for participants to relax and unwind, as well as reflect with one another about how the experience is impacting them.

The Cambodia-Thailand trip is expecting to have 10 participants. With each of those ten making a $10,000 (AUD) donation, as well as paying trip costs of $7,950 (AUD) (not including flights, visas, insurance, and vaccinations) the journey will generate $100,000 which will be invested in the following goals:

  • Empowering 140 girls to stay in school
  • Reaching 140 at-risk children living in the streets of Phnom Penh
  • Funding eight outreach programs to prevent human trafficking, with an anticipated reach of 2,000 women and girls
  • Funding the training of women in chicken farming in Cambodia

The Secret Sisterhood provides an interesting new model for how women can help each other build the pipeline for gender equality philanthropy globally. By supporting the Secret Sisterhood, philanthropists get a built-in tour of the work they will be funding, and also get the opportunity to travel with other like-minded women. Through this kind of traveling and networking, women donors may find unique opportunities to build on each other’s skills and work together to address gender equality.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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