Dear Leading Ladies
As you are aware, Shoes by Shaherazad was set up to empower women and girls living in poverty, to gain the life skills they need to build a stronger and independent future for themselves.
Profits from every single pair of heels purchased help a woman or girl in need to gain essential skills. That's why I've chosen, along with my customers, to give to grassroots projects who allow women and girls to make their own decisions about their lives based on the learning that they think is best.
It is a well researched fact that locally focussed organisations increase the reach of their interventions to deliver even more effectively for the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. My corporate partnership with GlobalGiving UK enables me to work with carefully selected projects and directly communicate about what the girls in the projects need, and how they're doing at school. Projects around the world describe what they would like funds for, and then Shoes by Shaherazad helps through our happy shoe profits! It's great to hear directly from the project leaders and build up a close relationship with the teams who are doing good deeds on the ground.
One of my personal favourite projects is one based in Peru called La Casa de Panchita. Here's a beautiful video shared by the project of a happy Sunday spent by these beautiful little girls at school one Sunday:
Whilst in many countries an unaffordable "luxury", in Peru having a so-called empleada (domestic worker) who does your cleaning, laundry, cooking, watching the children or even driving you around is quite common and for middle and upper-class Peruvians and foreigners still affordable. Therefore the practice is very rife.
Sadly, this means that many young girls end up in domestic labour, cooking and cleaning in return for meals and a place to stay. Many are badly treated, and even those who are "looked after" with a shorter working day and plentiful meals are missing out on the love and comfort of their own families, of going to school and of growing up in their own time as a girl should.
La Casa de Panchita empowers 300 girls, some as young as 9, and 250 women to escape 14 hour workdays, avoid abuse, attend school, and earn a fair wage. The project helps girls to stay in school and enjoy their childhood, giving them a chance to build a better future. They also train, tutor, and give legal advice to adult domestic workers and women wishing to access the labour market in Lima.
Half a million women and girls work as servants in Peru. Most come to Lima from rural poverty or shantytowns. The majority do not enjoy basic rights: schooling, a 6 day work week or minimum wage. Girls as young as nine serve others to earn a meal. They care for young children, foregoing their own education.
This project allows girls the chance to reclaim their childhood through educational and recreational support. It also enables women to improve job skills, as they learn to negotiate better job conditions.
With access to school support, workshops aimed at making them aware of their rights and vocational training, 300 girls per year have a chance to stay in school, complete their education and find better and qualified jobs. 250 skilled and informed adult domestic workers will have access to dignified employment and fair pay. They will take part in their own emancipation, improve the livelihood of their household and protect their children from child labour.
Blanca Figueroa is a project leader at La Casa De Panchita in Peru and says:
"This year we want girls in child domestic labor who participate in Sunday sessions at La Casa de Panchita to have the opportunity to enjoy the cultural offer of Lima. We have taken them several Sundays - while the weather was still warm - to the Water Park, which has many fountains in which to play. We also took them to see a theatre play for children. They had never been to the theatre and some girls did not know what a theatre was. They liked it very much and for them it was a very valuable experience!"
The project team is proud of the results it achieves and says:
"We are helping break through a heritage of poverty and servitude passed from mother to daughter because of a lack of opportunity and education. As they gain skills, confidence and understanding of their rights, the girls and women we serve each year will pursue better education and secure better jobs. They in turn will educate other domestic workers, and parents of young girls. They will fight to ensure the rights of all domestic workers are respected."