Early this morning, I scrambled along the El Dorado Ramble, visited only by deer and jack rabbits and my husband's good company as the sun lit up pink cliffs. Later, at home in my garden, I had the Sunday good fortune of a daybed, a pot of coffee and a laptop. Summer at its best, I think, is about feeding on light and air and a rambling kind of pace, the spoils of the farmer's market, and the chance to dive deep into things which call your name.
In my case, on this leisurely afternoon, I took an online dive into the latest research focused on women in developing countries. As Ibu grows, we are in deep conversation with the artisans we serve, inquiring about the challenges they face daily and how we might better address their whole lives. Today, as I read reports by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, I find our person-to-person accounts echoed in every statistic.
A rundown of what is most pressing for women in developing countries is summarized, for one, by Global Citizen. The Top 5 challenges:
1. Education: A UNESCO report in 2013 found that 31 million girls of primary school age were not in school.
2. Work for Pay: Women earn 1/10th of the world's income, despite working 2/3 of the total work hours.
3. Family Planning: The developing world has 74 million unplanned pregnancies and 36 million abortions a year.
4. Maternal Health: 800 women a day die of preventable pregnancy-related causes.
5. Sexual Assault and Violence: 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.
And there are more challenges, of course. You can find the sources for this data and more in this Global Citizen report.
Behind the scenes for the past year, I've been working quietly with an amazing team to build a second force in the Ibu Movement: a non-profit sister to our Ibu brand. The Ibu Foundation. This team is talking with artisans, establishing need and strength, beginning to flesh out projects to address those needs and elevate those strengths and disrupt the systems that cripple women. Slowly but steadily, we are crafting an Ibu Foundation that will serve global women artisans in their unstoppable rise from unpaid/underpaid labor into financial self-sufficiency, from silence into strength of voice, from limited rights into the leadership roles defining rights. In so succeeding, daughters will join their brothers in school; homes will be reimagined as sanctuaries of respect, women's work will reshape the world.
D.I.S.R.U.P.T. That's what I want this movement to do. Disrupt poverty. Disrupt boys-only in school. Disrupt cycles of abuse and unwanted pregnancies. And in so disrupting, let women rise.
In the next few months, you will hear more about the Ibu Foundation as the new director and board will begin to lay out their vision and plans. We want to launch it with your support before the end of the year, and then publicly in the new year. Until then, I want you to know of this emerging sister-twin to Ibu: a non-profit working side by side with our for-profit in a movement for women everywhere.
Before we dive into this ocean of need and opportunity, my imagination is quietly putting an ear to the ground and listening to the pulse of women in this world, hearing a heartbeat of unison rising louder and clearer. Just under the pressing and oppressive challenges that women face, there is a seismic shift going on. Women are leading it. There is so much to be done.
So, let's join them in getting it done. We're a movement, after all. Get ready to move.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker