By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – The real United Nations is seen among women artisans and entrepreneurs vigorously doing business under one roof. On March 15, 2017 – when people were still feeling intense cold after the blizzard Stella – business was brisk as women-made artistic products all over the world were on display and for you to take at the right price.
The non-government organization arm of the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) put together the event as an annual tradition to celebrate International Women’s Day at the UN Church Center. While it was aimed at promoting the artistic and cultural wealth of member countries, the fair pragmatically was a venue to generate income that supports women’s advocacy work.
Cherry M. Smyth, CEO of the not-for-profit Kids Philippines Inc., was thoroughly amazed at the windows of opportunity for her to partner with like-minded women who are passionate about education for rural children. She said she has sat down with at least three women leaders whom she will be in contact with to put in detail subsequent partnership arrangements.
Kids Philippines Inc. is Smyth’s baby, a two-year-old organization providing tuition and school materials for young school children in southern Philippines.
Apart from that, Smyth, a Filipino community leader from Connecticut, has caused the sales of Philippine crafted purses and clothes to finance the operation of We Care for Humanity, a not-for-profit organization headed by Joy Theriot which she supports.
Smyth, a good old friend since 2012, giggled with me each time we made sales. “This is fun,” she said grinning.
I sold out all my first children’s book on girl empowerment, “Hats Off for Gabbie” that day, as well as way too many several pieces of fashion jewelry created by women artisans in my birthplace Cebu in the Philippines. I did not know I could do sales work. Being enterprising gives me a unique kind of high, as rewarding as finishing a journalistic piece.
Artisan pieces of woven fabric, purses, necklaces, and rugs were on sale from Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia for the whole afternoon.
The fair also teemed with advocacy work, Kaila Mintz came around and told us about her group’s Code Blue Campaign which seeks to address impunity around the world. She gave us baby blue scarfs to symbolize our support.
Beatrice Unander-Scharin spoke of her work at the National Organization for Women’s Shelters and Young Women Shelters in Sweden as its vice president. Gertrude Eigelsreiter-Jashari from the University of Vienna, shared her interest on raising empowered grandchildren.
In another table, sales were likewise brisk for Alaffia which sold organic soap bars from Africa. The business of Allaffia promotes equality, empowerment, and beauty. The company is an actor of fair trade that ensures equality of business pursuits of small producers and traders while ensuring beauty through organically grown materials.
I got me a few bars of coconut soap after a hurried conversation with Allafia marketing person Cherron Perry-Thomas who remained smiling while attending to several customers at one time. Such is a woman’s grace in the midst of pressure.