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This Sexy Lingerie Does Good Globally This Sexy Lingerie Does Good Globally
Culture

This Sexy Lingerie Does Good Globally

by Catalina Girald

February 1, 2014

The lingerie industry typically portrays women as catering to men; at Naja, we emphasize the relationship between a woman and herself. That’s why all of our panties empower women with inspirational quotes in the lining and the bra cups are all printed on the inside. However, I also wanted to create a brand that could have a positive impact on underprivileged women and that is why I created Underwear for Hope.  

Through Underwear for Hope and our partnership with the Golondrinas Foundation, Naja trains women from the poorest and most violent areas of the world to sew. We then employ some of them so that they can help themselves and their children. Our pilot program is currently run out of a "comuna" called Caicedo--which is perhaps the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellin. Many of the people that live there were formerly employed by Pablo Escobar and are now part of powerful gangs of hit men or people involved in Colombia's drug trafficking, sex trafficking or kidnapping rings. This is the kind of neighborhood that taxi drivers don't go to because shootouts and bombings are regular occurrences. It's a tough place for women and children and an even tougher place to find opportunity.

So how does this relate to lingerie? When you order a bra from Naja, you get a free lingerie wash bag made by a woman from Underwear for Hope. Every purchase made is a direct contribution to the employment of a single mother. We currently employ three women through Underwear for Hope. They work from their own homes on their own time, which allows them the flexibility they need to take care of their children.

Through Underwear for Hope we're giving women with few opportunities a chance to help themselves. They are single mothers like Zulli who can't work because she has a mentally and physically disabled child. We give her a chance to work from home while caring for her daughter. Or they are women like Maria who have suffered as a result of violence and have been displaced from their homes. In Maria's words:

I am one of the 'displaced' in Colombia-after gangs killed my sister, I was forced to leave our village with my three girls and my sister's two girls," she said. "The violence hit me very hard. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to die, but I couldn't because I had them to take care of. Now, I try to teach children about the violence and I have a group of about 50 kids. I cleaned up a little park around the corner and on weekends I turn it into an activity center-I teach the children to plant, we fry potato chips in kettles, and we draw.

We recently ran an initiative where we employed single mothers to sew cotton underwear for the girls of Foundation Rwanda. Foundation Rwanda educates the children of the women who were raped during the Rwandan Genocide. Through Underwear for Hope we donated 1400 pairs of underwear to the girls. Most of them were aged 17 to 19 and had never owned a new pair of underwear in their lives. Because we put quotes on the inside of our panties to inspire women, we asked the girls of Foundation Rwanda to come up with their own quotes in Kinya for their panties. My favorite, "Abiyubaka" means "Let us help one another." Each girl was given a set of three.

We currently have a campaign on Kickstarter to raise awareness for Underwear for Hope and source funds to expand our sizing to fit women of all shapes and sizes. With our program, we’re not only creating micro entrepreneurs, but also a network of women helping women.  One panty at a time.  Because when you educate a woman, everything changes.  

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.

business women social entrepreneurship social enterprise fashion empowerment global development push-for-good global impact
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