By DEBORAH LUBANGA
For a long time feminism seemed like a “dirty word” that often evoked images of hairy, man-hating women. But recently this negative stereotype has begun to fade. In fact young celebrities, like Emma Watson and Lena Dunham, have made feminism seem “cool.” And companies have found a way to cash in on this changing stigma with “fem-vertising.” These ads use “girl-power” messages to sell products to women. Although, the idea of makeup and shampoo companies profiting off of women’s rights issues seems a little suspect, these ads have only grown in number. Thankfully, there are some companies that have been funneling a portion of their profits into projects that help women and girls.
Over the last 30 years, Always has provided puberty education for 17-20 million girls around the world. In 2011, the feminine hygiene brand broadened its educational goals to include supporting literacy in Africa. With the help of UNESCO, this effort has impacted the lives of 100,000 girls in Nigeria and Senegal.
The beauty brand Dove partnered with organizations, such as Girl Scouts and Girls Inc., to start the Movement for Self-Esteem in 2010. Aimed at girls, ages 8 to 17 years old, this project provides resources for confidence building programs and workshops. Moreover, the Dove Self-Esteem advisory board creates online content for girls and their parents on topics such as relationships and body image. To date, this movement has reached 11 million girls and Dove hopes to increase that number to 15 million by 2015.
The Nike Foundation launched the Girl Effect project in 2008 to help adolescent girls in developing nations. Working in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation and the UN Coalition for Adolescent Girls, Nike’s investment has benefited 500,000 girls around the world. Most recently, the Girl Effect team created the Girl Declaration, which is a call-to-action to put the wellbeing and advancement of young women at the forefront of global development initiatives.
Pantene established the Shine Strong Fund in collaboration with the American Association of University Women in June 2014. This fund finances the Campus Action Project grant program to help female students enact change in their universities. It also connects young women with female industry leaders through virtual professional training programs. Moreover, the money supports the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program, which gives free, real-hair wigs to cancer patients.
In June 2014, Cover Girl announced that it would be donating a minimum of $5 million over the next five years to support individuals and non-profit organizations dedicated to the advancement of women and girls. Among the first recipients was Girls Who Code, which received $500,000 to increase its computer science programs. The makeup line also gave The Soledad O’Brien + Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation $200,000 to expand its Career Readiness curriculum.