“Mom, did you know that everything that happens to the women in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is actually happening every day to women somewhere in the world?”

My 16-year-old daughter told me this as we passed the popcorn between us while we were watching the hit Hulu Series taken from Margaret Atwood’s classic novel “A Handmade’s Tale” starring the wonderful actress Elizabeth Moss.

Denial of Education. Human Trafficking. Period Poverty. Domestic Violence. Sexual Slavery. Conditions like this, are only not part of a dystopian future. They’re a reality happening right on our doorstep. Right now. Today. In real time.

According to the World Bank non-profit research center, gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.

The numbers are staggering:

  • 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
  • Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner.
  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
  • 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
  • Human Trafficking Becoming on the Fastest Growing Sectors in The Global Economy as cited by the National Center for Biotechnology Information
  • There are approximately 800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually and, of these, 80% are women or girls, and 50% are minors.
  • The global sex trade is the fastest growing form of commerce, worth $32 billion annually.
  • Victims of sex trafficking acquire adverse physical and psychological health conditions and social disadvantages.
  • Victims may face legal barriers, where the traffickers will confiscate or sequester all forms of immigration and citizenry documentation. Language barriers, fear, limited knowledge, and lack of money are other barriers that women and girls may face to prevent them from escaping the sex trafficking ring.
  • Health care professionals can work to improve the screening, identification, and assistance of victims of sex trafficking in a clinical setting and help these women and girls access legal and social services.

Women Around the World Denied Basic Human Rights

Nationality laws in 27 countries worldwide prevent mothers from passing their nationality to their children on an equal basis with fathers. Over 60 countries deny women equal rights with men regarding the ability to acquire, change and retain their nationality, and to confer citizenship to non-national spouses.

Period Poverty Afflicts Everyone

In the US alone, 41% of kids live in low-income households

25 Million US Women live below the poverty line. Feminine hygiene products are not covered by health care or food stamps.

1 in 5 American girls have missed school due to lack of period protection

CNN.com reports 16% of girls in Tanzania miss up to one week of school per month due to the expense of tampons and pads being out of reach.

Gender Bias in Education Is Real. 130 million school-aged girls worldwide do not have access to education

That’s why I am proud to support my friend Cinzia Brandi and the New York Metro Chapter of the UN Women in creating this worldwide initiative to provide on the ground help for women’s human rights, economic, and educational equality.

Admittedly, these problems seem so overwhelming for those of us who want to help lift women out of poverty and into equality, but we all have to do what we can when we can. Here’s how buying one of these t-shirts designed by my friend Cinzia Brandi in collaboration with artist Marco Santini can help change lives around the world:

  • Training to end violence against women and girls
  • Training to support survivors
  • Teach women to read and write
  • Vocational training in refugee camps
  • Dignity Kits for feminine care in a post-disaster area
  • “Oasis Centers” for psychological support, education, training
  • Leadership skills to adolescent girls through sport training
  • Solar Lamps to protect against violence and sexual assault
  • Crisis and psychosocial counseling
  • Financial and business training to start a sustainable enterprise
  • Food for a woman living in a shelter
  • Legal services and support
  • Support the change of laws to reflect women’s equal rights

The future is female. It’s up to all of us to build a better tomorrow.


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References

Domestic Violence

National Center for Biotechnology Information

Period Poverty

US Women w/ limited or no access to feminine hygiene products

US Girls missing school due to lack of hygiene

CNN Stats

130 Million Girls Out of School

Countries That Deny Conference of Citizenship