Courtesy: FEED
Lindsay Dolak
Mar 08, 2016 @ 11:00 am

Shout out to the ladies: It’s International Women’s Day! Today, on March 8, we celebrate women and their many social, economic, cultural, and political achievements on the path to level the gender equality playing field. However, it goes without saying that the road is long and winding and there is still a lot of work to do. Which is why International Women’s Day, or IWD, is also meant to raise awareness about the challenges still facing women globally and rally women together to create even more change. And FEED Projects is hoping to do just that with their It Starts Here campaign.

“The campaign is all about the idea that there is no more time to wonder how to make a difference. It’s really time to make the difference,” says Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO and co-founder of FEED. “We all have the power to make the difference and instead of just celebrating women this year, we want to inspire women to take action.”

Courtesy: FEED

The campaign itself, which will run through March, is centered around profiles of Chicago women using their influence to break barriers and build bright futures for themselves and, in doing so, create brighter realities for other women and girls. From a chef and restaurant owner to a managing director at a retail company to an artist and world traveler, these women’s stories are meant to show the impact that one woman empowering herself can have on other women and her surrounding community. “It Starts Here is really about emphasizing that you don’t have to be in the government or nonprofit leader to have a stake in real, positive change,” says Lauren. “It’s within all of our power and these women show that.”

Courtesy: FEED

In addition to sharing these change-maker stories, FEED partnered with nonprofit Nest and the artisan group Hilos y Colores to release a gorgeous limited edition IWD bag. The Artisan 1 FEED bags ($125; feedprojects.com) are hand embroidered by the female artisans from Peru. Proceeds will directly benefit the group, enabling the artisans to break out of the poverty cycle, and the purchase of one bag will provide an entire year’s worth of nutritious school lunches for one child.

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“Girls are going to school and staying in school because of these lunches,” says Lauren, who created FEED in 2007 to provide school lunches to children in poverty-stricken nations and empower them to change their lives. “They stay in school longer, receive an education, and better their own lives, as well as their communities.”

Courtesy: FEED

So what can you do? Join the conversation by using the hashtags #ItStartsHere and #IWD2016 and share what impact you're making personally to move the needle for women's equality wherever your here might be. And, of course, purchasing the limited-edition bag or any of FEED's other products will directly benefit women and girls in need globally.

"The It Starts Here campaign is a rally cry for action," says Lauren. "Whether you're in New York City or rural Kenya, gender inequality is so universal and we need to look that squarely in the eye and take action."

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Check back to FEED's website this month for more empowering stories and continue to spread the It Starts Here message all month and beyond.

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