2018 has already been a big year for awareness of the abuse and exploitation of women in all walks of life. We’ve seen the emergence of movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp as women all over the world come together to campaign for equality.
Today is International Women’s Day and the event calls women everywhere to #PressforProgress, a strong call to action that they are hoping campaign groups will adopt, not just today, but throughout the year as we strive for gender parity. We’re doing our bit at Cognifide through the Project Shoebox initiative which aims to help women in domestic abuse shelters in London, Poznan and New York.
We’ve been collaborating with various partners, including other WPP agencies, across our three offices - and with the help of our brand new engineering outpost in Bydgoszcz, Poland - to collect, pack and donate thousands of much-needed toiletries and personal items for women’s refuges across our cities.
Project Shoebox was introduced to Cognifide 3 years ago by a colleague who decided to box up unused items, collected over various business trips, to donate to a local hostel. The response from women, often escaping life challenging situations with nothing really to call their own, was overwhelming and Project Shoebox grew into the multi-office drive that it is today. We’ll distribute 250 boxes in Poland, 130 in London and up to 50 in New York.
In each city we are working with local charities to reach out to women in need. In London, the charity Hestia, supported more than 9,000 people last year including victims of modern slavery and those who have experienced domestic abuse. And in Poznan and New York, similar charities have opened up to us and helped us to reach these vulnerable women at a time when they most need help.
Every year that we launch our Project Shoebox drive, we’re amazed with the support that we get. Not just the generous donations from our colleagues - you know who you are, thank you! - but from organisations who hear about what we are doing and want to jump on board. In Poland this year, our first donation came from an anonymous donor who has no connection with Cognifide but had simply heard about what we were doing and wanted to help. And the Student Equality Association at Adam Mickiewicz University has also pledged their support, setting up a local drop and preparing their own posters to promote the cause.
What can we achieve?
CEO of Hestia in London spoke about what Project Shoebox means to them and the people that they help, “For many women and children escaping an abusive relationship, having to leave in a hurry means that they often arrive at our refuges with little more than the clothes they are wearing. It is often the simple things that we take for granted, like having a toothbrush or shower gel, which can result in women returning to abusive homes. With the generosity of the staff at Cognifide, these women can begin to feel like themselves again and recover from the trauma of domestic abuse. Hestia is proud to be working with Cognifide to celebrate women in our refuges on International Women’s Day.”
We work in a male dominated industry and we’re doing our best to drive change there through initiatives such as our Digital Academy which aims to bring young women, as well as men, into the business. Doing our bit to help women in our communities is equally as important to us.
Together we’re working hard to #PressforProgress. Have a great International Women’s Day!