International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a day to celebrate the achievements of womankind, to recognise the contribution of our gender to worldwide peace and development and to bring issues that are directly affecting us to light.

This year marks twenty years since the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 where the Beijing Platform for Action, a plan for increasing women’s rights, was developed and signed by 189 countries. The theme of this year’s International Women’s day events is ‘Beijing +20’, designed to spark a review of the document in regards to the progress that has been made in the campaign for gender equality, as well as to encourage further action.

Back home, the Australian National Committee for UN Women hosts events all over the nation. They suggest that you can get involved with the campaign by attending or hosting an event, becoming a member, selling ribbons or simply donating.

These are all fantastic ways to support the movement, but if you cannot commit the time to these initiatives, do not stress, you can still play a part!

There are many organisations operating across the world with the aim of empowering women to take control of their lives and achieve financial independency. This International Women’s Day, why not support these women by purchasing an item from one of these companies or charities? Better yet, gift them to your girlfriends and colleagues to spread the word about International Women’s Day, socially conscious organisations and the issue of gender equality!

Without further ado, let us introduce you to 9 such organisations that you can support to make a difference in the lives of women this International Women’s Day.

Gifts for International Women’s Day

1. Sawa Australia NSW Inc.

SAWA (Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan) Australia NSW is a charitable organisation whose current major project is providing free education to Afghan refugees via Heward High School in Pakistan. It is one of the only schools in Pakistan that remains open to Afghan girls where 147 students currently attend from grades 1-12.  Amongst more traditional subjects, the students are educated on the topic of women’s rights in an effort to change the next generation’s perception of gender roles.

To support the cause you can purchase an Eco Shopping Bag, available in a wide range of colours, or a pack of 6 gift cards to send to your girlfriends this IWD!

Eco Shopping Bags $10 each, Sawa Australia NSW Inc.

 

2. Popinjay

Popinjay is a company that grew from Founder Saba Gul’s realisation that artistic talent in her home country of Pakistan was stifled due to the lack of connection to the world market. So she set out to be the voice between the local and global markets and in the process developed a successful brand that is about quality over quantity, locally sourced raw materials and intricate handcraft. By providing above average wages and training Gul has enabled the women she employs to become financially independent.

Popinjay offer a range of limited edition products, including clutches and totes made from handwoven fabric and detailed with silk embroidery.

Baracoa Zip Clutch $205, Popinjay

3. Oxfam Shop

At Oxfam they are working on a sustainable solution to poverty that involves providing people in need with the training, resources and market exposure necessary for success. Oxfam currently has trading relationships with 136 producer groups in 38 countries (even including Australia!). They use their Oxfam shops to sell these hand-made and fair trade goods and by making a purchase you are supporting the small-scale producers around the world, as well as helping to raise funds for new and existing programs.

In store or online you can find a variety of unique goods including children’s toys, home décor, kitchen supplies, clothes and accessories, books and cards and food and drink at very affordable prices!

Jewelled Metal Cuffed Bracelet $16.95, Oxfam Shop

 

4. On Purpose by Kate Spade

Kate Spade has developed a range of handmade goods under the brand ‘On Purpose’. This is a side project of the company, who has set up training and production facilities in Masoro, Rwanda. They stress that the initiative “is not a charity project” and that they are “training them to become a profitable supplier and participate in the global marketplace”. By employing 150 women from the Masoro community they have been able to positively impact the lives of some 20,000 people in the community.

The On Purpose range extends across all brands under the company – Kate Spade New York, Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade (for men) – and you can purchase everything from bags, scarfs and jewellery, to beanies and hand-stitched pocket squares!

Kiss Me You Fool Clutch $198, Kate Spade On Purpose

 

5. Moeloco for the Hope Foundation

Kathy Wong’s MoeLoco, is a socially conscious brand that has been developed in line with the ‘buy-one-give-one’ business model to combat poverty, particularly amongst children. This means that for every pair of shoes purchased they will give a pair of shoes to the Hope Foundation for allocation to an orphan in need. This simple system will help the children avoid injury and health problems and attend school.

Currently MoeLoco stock beautifully designed thongs that feature inspirational messages on the top and sole. This is so that when you walk in the sand, you leave behind words of kindness such as ‘love’, ‘happiness’ and ‘peace’. How great is that?!

Dream Crazy Flip Flop $35, Moeloco

 

6. The Brave Collection

The Brave Collection is based in Cambodia and aims to empower women through job opportunities. They employ local women from disadvantaged backgrounds, single mothers or those with a disability to work in their studio producing hand-woven and carved jewellery. In return the women receive a fair working environment, above average wages, benefits such as health insurance, and are able to bring their children to work. In addition, The Brave Collection donates 10% of their profits to fight human trafficking and collaborates with local organisations to educate and empower the local women and girls through creative arts programs.

Each piece of jewellery sold by The Brave Collection has been dyed, woven and carved by hand. The ‘Brave Bracelet’ featured in the picture is one of their signature pieces. See their website for more beautiful designs!

Brave Bracelet (Deep Moss) $38, The Brave Collection

 

7. The Akola Project

The Akola Project is a not-for-profit organisation that believes the only sustainable way to reduce poverty is to empower women to become change makers in their community. They do this through a six step model that includes building community infrastructure, providing vocational training, producing globally competitive products, rewarding workers with above average wages, assisting beneficiaries with health and financial advice, and encouraging and supporting the women to embark on their own business venture. This approach means that each woman can support 10 children and is equipped with the skills and resources to make a better life. Until recently, Akola’s main focus has been communities in Uganda, but they have just introduced a program in Dallas, Texas.

Akola women create beautiful accessories using local materials and techniques. The cherry on the cake? 100% of the profits from the sale of these items are reinvested into the project.

Drape (Chartreuse) from $96, Akola Project

 

8. Women for Women International

WFWI run training and development programs for women in 8 countries to help them rebuild their lives after war. These programs provide the women with in-demand skills and a health education and inform them of their rights so that they may become active in household and community decision making.

Featured on their website is the link “Shop with a Purpose” where you will find the products created and the shops endorsed by WFWI. Recently they launched their first cookbook titled ‘Share’ that includes local recipes from around the world as well as individual stories of the women that completed the WFWI program. You will also find contributions from world-renowned chefs and humanitarians. What’s more, 100% of the profits go back to the program. The perfect gift for that master chef friend of yours!

‘Share – The Cookbook’ $28.34 (on Amazon), WFWI

 

9. Global Girlfriend

Global Girlfriend is a GreaterGood online store, which means that every purchase made gives a charity royalty between 5-30%.Global Girlfriend’s charity of choice is GROW (Girl’s Right to Opportunity Worldwide) who work to assist young girls to attend primary and secondary school by providing them with the necessary resources and covering tuition fees.

The products sold on Global Girlfriend’s website are women-made, fair-trade and eco-friendly and sourced from all over the world. You can find many affordable gifts, great clothes and accessories and find out all about the organisations who make them.

Bangladesh Botanical Note Paper & Pencil $10, Global Girlfriend

 

By purchasing a gift from any of these organisations you are making a real and positive impact on the lives of the women producers and their families across the world. International Women’s Day is a great excuse to check these organisations out and to realise the power of our daily spending in making a difference.
Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Authors:

Ozlem Beldan

Ozlem is the Founder of Spirit of Womankind – a platform for facilitating womankind’s reconnection to their truth so they feel free to design the lives they truly want to live. Ozlem is also an Associate at Xplore for Success – an organisation dedicated to driving gender equality in the workplace.

Sarah Phasey

Sarah is based in Melbourne, Australia where she is completing her Business degree.

Feature image credit: Moeloco


As the year comes to a close, we start to evaluate our successes and failures in the year and look forward to the future. If you’re thinking of starting your own business in the new year or have some time on your hands and are simply looking for some inspiration, here are 10 must read books we think every aspiring entrepreneur should read:

make your mark notebook by kasia gospos

1. Make Your Mark

This one is a no brainer for the Leaders in Heels team! The Make Your Mark notebook was the result of lots of hard work by our founder Kasia Gospos and would make the perfect gift for a friend or family member who needs a bit of a push in the right direction. Filled with positive quotes, thoughts and assignments for the everyday woman (or man!) these are interactive books aimed to stimulate a new way of thinking and develop positive traits in your life and business.

daring and disruptive lisa messenger

2. Daring and Disruptive – Unleashing the Entrepreneur

There’s no doubt Lisa Messenger is a risk taker. Engaging and raw, this book is filled with stories of Lisa’s real experiences running her businesses – including a successful publishing company and the Renegade Collective magazine – while living life to the fullest. Filled with the fun and the failures, Daring and Disruptive is not just another feel good book blending Lisa’s personal stories with the important business lessons she has learned along the way – you won’t be able to put it down!

Me Time Front-Cover3. Me Time – The Professional Woman’s Guide to finding 30 guilt-free hours a month

Everyone has the same amount of hours in the day, but imagine if you had an extra 30 hours a month to do whatever you please. Oh the things you would do! This is what author and entrepreneur Kate Christie tries to give you in her simple and practical 5 step guide to finding those elusive extra hours. Solution focused and with interviews from successful Australian women, including Natasha Stott Despoja, this is book will have you seeking out those hours across all aspects of your life!

lean-startup_book-cover4. The Lean Startup

Perfect for those wanting to start their own business, this book gives a scientific approach to creating and managing start ups from the very beginning and being flexible to the beast that is a new product or service. Author Ries tries to instil the ‘work smarter, not harder’ approach to new business and gives great tips for people to think about before they start their journey.

wired for life

5. Wired for Life: Retrain your brain and thrive

Written by 2 female entrepreneurs, this book has helped many people create the business and life they want. Drawing on their own personal experiences with corporate and private clients, the authors reveals the 5 fears that will hold you back and how to overcome them through a three-step process for harnessing the power of your mind and creating the life you want. By understanding why you behave the way you do and the reasons behind your decisions, you will gain insight into how you can change your mind (and life) for the better.

thrive-book-cover6. Thrive

Thinking about influential entrepreneurs, we could not forget this one on the list.  Thrive is an honest account of  Huffington’s  journey to the top whilst juggling life, her family and beyond and describes her personal “wake up call” that a successful life is about more than just money and reputation. Learn what priorities you should be focussing on and get inspired.

losing m virginity richard branson cover

7. Losing my Virginity

Another one at the top of the entrepreneur’s list is Richard Branson’s autobiography. Described as “a portrait of a productive, sane, balanced life, filled with rich and colorful stories” this book will reveal how Branson first began and how he manages to stay on top of his competition. A true risk taker in every sense  – this book is an inspirational memoir that belongs on every entrepreneur’s bookshelves.

the 4 hour work week

8. 4-Hour Work Week

This book is all about escaping the 9-to-5 lifestyle and freeing up your time while making money. #1 New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss will teach you how he is able to work a four hour week  to make $40,000 a month. There is no need to wait until retirement anymore and Ferriss will show you how it’s all possible!

the_100_startup9. The $100 Startup

Another example of how you can take an idea and turn it into a reality on the cheap, Guillebeau presents 50 case studies of successful entrepreneurs who have built their businesses from a modest $100 (or in some cases less!) and how they did it to live the life they really wanted. Highlighting that often you don’t need that university education or investor behind the scenes, this book will teach you the most valuable lessons learned from those who’ve already done it.

Design-Your-Life-by-Vince-Frost-Cover

10. Design Your Life

“This book is more than words, more than images. It’s about inspiring ideas to life. It’s about proving the impossible possible,’ – Vince Frost”.

All about inspiring others using design principles, it’s a bit different to the usual but the messages and principles Frost presents are relevant to any person looking for guidance. Littered with motivational quotes, informative interviews with other successful people and personal anecdotes, Frost will have you looking at your life a little differently, and that’s a good thing.

Do you have a favourite book that inspires you? Tell us the title in the comments below and how it has helped you!

Sian Edwards Leaders in Heels Business EditorSiân Edwards is a Sydney-based communications professional with experience working in public relations, media and marketing roles in both the private and public sector. With an endless thirst for knowledge, particularly in the areas of digital marketing and social media, Sian is a true believer of ‘lifelong learning’. When she’s not working in the corporate world, she is out and about exploring Sydney and beyond for her popular food and travel blog and building on her skills as a freelance writer and editor.

Photo credit: azrasta


Most of you probably have that proud, self-proclaimed geek in your life. A child, niece or nephew, maybe your significant other. Here are five geeky gift ideas that will make that special geek very, very happy come Christmas.

Gaming console (PS4, XBox One)

ps4 xbox one
photo credit: tandemsystemsltd

Both Sony and Microsoft released their latest generation gaming consoles, the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One respectively, in November last year. Fast-forward one year, and both consoles have finally had their worst bugs ironed out, and a slew of great games released. If your special geek has gaming inclinations but neither of the new consoles, perhaps now is the time to start considering a very special gift under the tree this Christmas!

Premium subscriptions

 psn plus
photo credit: NewGameNetwork

Sony and Microsoft offer premium subscriptions to their online gaming networks – PlayStation Plus for the Playstation line, and Xbox Live Gold for the Xbox line. They’re a necessity for multiplayer gaming on the latest generation consoles, but even those with the older generation will benefit. Both offer a selection of different free games every month and discounts on selected games for their members, for example. A free, ever-changing library of games is a gift that won’t be forgotten.

Incredibly lifelike figurines

joker

Hot Toys is a company that creates amazingly detailed, lifelike figurines targeting the pop culture market. Batman, the Joker, Iron Man, Han Solo (to get ready for the new Star Wars movies, of course!), to name some of the more popular characters. If you can find your special geek’s favourite franchises, there will probably be a Hot Toys model they’ll fall in love with.

Artbooks

hyrule historia

photo credit: Frandji

Artbooks are becoming increasingly popular these days, especially for video games. There are many beautifully bound and presented books to choose from, depending on your special geek’s interest. Do they love the Zelda games? Hyrule Historia. Assassin’s Creed fan? There are artbooks for most of the later games in the series, including the latest, Assassin’s Creed Unity. There’s also the amazingly evocative The Last of Us. Did they fall in love with the surprisingly emotional Journey? There’s an artbook for that, too. You can generally find an artbook for most recently released games, if you just look. Your video gaming geek will thank you for it.

Home automation goodness

belkin

These days there’s everything from app-controlled light switches and power switches, to smart locks that let you use your smartphone as your key and assign temporary keys to others. Practical? Perhaps, if you want to set up a light show remotely or let friends into your house while you’re away. Cool? To a geek, very much so.

featured image: Bukowsky18

Do you have any other gift ideas, or gifts that have gone over well in previous years? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!