Support At-risk Women
According to the International Labor Organization, 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally. The Empowerment Bag aims to free women in India who are otherwise vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking.
All our bags are made by women at risk of exploitation in West Bengal, India. These women are given financial independence and an alternative to the sex trade through sewing training, literacy skills, and employment with fair wages.
Purchasing our bags allows over 200 women in West Bengal to receive salaries and work in a healthy, safe, and productive environment. Here's what some of the women we've helped train and employ have to say:
“I’m 38-years old and have one teenage son in secondary school. This job...trained me in sewing and taught me to read and write. I remember signing my name to collect my first salary. I'll never forget that day in my life." -Rima
“I’m 31-years old and have one daughter who is growing up with my mother in the village. After years of working in the trade, I made the choice to join...Before, I was short tempered and would abuse people for small reasons...Now, I don’t pick up fights, and I try to understand other people’s perspective before reacting on impulse. I feel transformed and more included in a good society.” -Soma
"[This facility] not only taught me to become a skilled seamstress but how to manage my money and save. With one of my first savings, I bought a water filter. It was the first water filter I've ever had in my own home. Now I'm 30-years old with a husband and a daughter, and I’ve been promoted as one of the lead sewing trainers. Working...has allowed me to see a different future for not only me, but my daughter too. Now I'm saving money so my daughter can go to college." -Joti
Fuel Even More Empowerment!
We are fully committed to freedom from human trafficking and exploitation. Therefore, we give 5% of sales on The Empowerment Bag to New Light, an organization also in West Bengal that provides shelter, education, and healthcare to trafficked women and their children. We believe this component of our business is crucial to keeping the children of mothers who've been exploited from falling prey to trafficking as well.
The kids at New Light that we give 5% of sales back to
Our business model is founded on a cycle of empowerment. We help vulnerable women in West Bengal learn how to sew, read and write, and make bags. By buying our bags, YOU allow us to give $$ back to that same community so that exploited women and kids can live safer, healthier, and more successful lives.
Utilize Eco-Friendly Material
All our bags are super eco-friendly. They are stitched from either laminated jute or organic cotton, depending on the style of bag. Jute is a natural fiber that is both durable and recyclable. And the lamination comes from a biodegradable plastic backing. Our cotton is organic, meaning our cotton suppliers use sustainable farming practices that do not rely on damaging chemicals, hormones, or preservatives. We strongly believe in using the best material to make our products!
The Empowerment Bag uses eco-friendly products and practices
Our manufacturer's screen printing process uses only water-based inks, avoiding harmful petro-chemicals and compounds. They also try to source their bag components locally through ethical partners. When you use our bags, you can not only feel good about having a practical product but also about wearing an ethically-sourced, environmentally-friendly fashion piece!
Who Created The Empowerment Bag?
Vaishali Umrikar, Founder + CEO of The Empowerment Bag
Vaishali Umrikar started The Empowerment Bag because she is passionate about stopping human trafficking. She was also looking for an affordable, sustainable, and ethically-made everyday bag. She could not find such a product. She also did not find a brand she trusted that provided a variety of bags to keep up with her varied activities and hectic lifestyle, so she decided to launch such a brand herself.
Vaishali has been involved with anti-trafficking projects since high school. When she attended Carleton College, she founded and led an anti-human trafficking task force. She was awarded a scholarship to work with the Cook County Adult Probation Sex Offender Unit and the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). She also worked with the Australian Government Office for Women. She recently underwent professional Domestic Violence training.
The Empowerment Bag was Vaishali's way to merge her passion for anti-trafficking work and social entrepreneurship. Vaishali's hope is that by supporting The Empowerment Bag, we can all push forward in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
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