We are always on the lookout for simple, creative ways to empower women and help change the world. It's even better when we can do this by linking arms with women across the globe to help end human trafficking- all while wearing pretty dresses!
Dressember is a fashion challenge started by Blythe Hill in 2009 in order to creatively raise money for International Justice Mission and a21, non-profits focused on ending human trafficking. The challenge is to wear a dress all 31 days of December. In an interview with Darling Magazine in 2014, Blythe explains that a fire was ignited inside of her when she learned that millions of girls and women all around the world are trafficked from their homes each year to endure sexual abuse. She wanted to do something to help, but her talents in fashion, design didn't seem to match up with her heart for human rights. Slowly, as the idea of Dressember gained momentum, raising over $25,000 in just 3 days in 2013, she realized that putting a dress on every day, especially during one of the coldest months of the year, creates meaningful conversation. Sometimes these conversations lead others to wear a dress, donate, or just learn that there are more slaves today than there have been during any other point in history. Conversations are powerful. Education is empowerment!
"Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern-day slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are." - Gary Haugen, Founder of International Justice Mission
There are an estimated 45.8 million people trapped in slavery right now. Slavery is defined as “the use of lies or violence to force another person to work for little or no pay.” These are men, women, and children being exploited in factories, mines, and brothels. It’s happening in nearly every country around the globe. Gary Haugen, founder of IJM, says slavery today is “as brutal as ever; more vast than ever, but more stoppable than ever.” And that’s what Dressember is all about- stopping slavery! Women worldwide have raised more than $1.5 million in the past 3 years for IJM and a21.
The rules of Dressember are simple: wear a dress. Not skirts, dresses. Not pants, dresses. Check out this gorgeous Dressember collection of Elegantees dresses, made in Nepal by survivors of human trafficking and available now! (And go ahead and follow them on Instagram @dressember for inspiration!)
Don't worry, there are a couple of exceptions to wearing a dress during the campaign: you get a free pass while you're sleeping, exercising, and cleaning. Phew! Of course, if your job requires that you
wear pants to work, then wear pants! You can still participate by wearing a dress when you come home for the day and on weekends. The dress is the flag of the movement to fight for justice on behalf of the oppressed. Blythe Hill explains it so well in her TED Talk “How A Dress Can Change the World.”
How does Dressember work? When you sign up you are automatically given a Go Fund Me account. You can email this link to friends, post it on social media, or just have people search your name to send in donations. If you and a group of friends are doing it, you can create/join a team when you sign up! This money is then donated to IJM and a21 and used in the fight against human trafficking.
If dresses really aren’t your thing, still consider it! It’s one of the easiest things you can do to show your dedication to ending slavery. If you can’t commit to all 31 days, then try and wear one for a few days, wear this Dressember button every day to serve as a conversation starter, or purchase this Giving Keys "Brave" Necklace to wear!
If none of those options sound right for you, you can always encourage and support your friends who are doing it, maybe even through a donation to their fundraising campaigns.
We at SHE are firm believers that the smallest shifts can collectively create hugely impactful change. We love Dressember and the way it turns a staple of femininity into a symbol of empowerment. Join us this Dressember and sign up on the SHE Changes Everything team now!