International Women’s Day, or IWD, marks a day to celebrate the efforts, hard work, and achievements of women throughout history in countless countries. The importance of a woman’s role and capabilities transcends languages and cultures. The celebration of an IWD has sparked through generations for over a century. Although it was officially acknowledged by the United Nations (UN) in 1975, the origins of Women’s Day can be dated back to 1908 in New York City when 15,000 women marched through the streets calling for shorter work hours, fair pay, and voting rights. Two years later, an international conference in Copenhagen consisting of working women decided to make this empowering day international.
The spirit of Women’s Day is present and growing stronger within the Bandhwari Women’s Project (BWP), launched and supported by the International Business Honor Society (IBHS) and the Incentive Foundation. The BWP is a social initiative and business in which underrepresented women in the village of Bandhwari, India are trained to create handcrafted items such as handbags, headbands, and face masks. These stylish creations are sold through IBHS on their online website and Instagram Shop, where 100% of the profits are allocated to the women who worked for them.
This business is not just any business. It represents life changing experiences for these women in India who had never had an opportunity to be independent and earn income prior to the Bandhwari Project. The customs of this impoverished village consist of male dominance and a lack of education and jobs for females. Since the man is usually considered the head of the household, he is the one who has work opportunities, earns the income, and has decision-making power in the family. However, the BWP is the glimmer of hope that has enabled women to change the course in this patriarchal society. Gradually, the women of the Bandhwari Project are learning useful skills, accessing paid work, and managing their own bank accounts. This initiative not only provides a new purpose and advancement for them, but also for their children, who could have a better-quality life and more educational possibilities.
Celebrate this IWD and Women’s History Month by purchasing a handcrafted, unique piece made by the Bandhwari group as a gift for yourself or for a friend. A special piece can be found for everyone, and each one symbolizes a different story for every woman behind the BWP. Whether you buy something, participate as an Ambassador for the initiative, or simply share about this organization with friends, you will be making a larger impact than you realize for women whose potentials are finally being recognized.