A couple of months ago, my friend Katy was offering a book giveaway through her blog. Since I love to read, I entered to win. Her sweet son picked me as a winner! It was supposedly a random drawing, but I like to tell myself that he really wanted me to win so he could come over to play and deliver the book. As the winner, I agreed to read the book and offer a review. Allow me to add that Katy, in addition to being a wife and mom of two extraordinaire, she's also a real life writer! Please remember that I am not and this is my first book review.
Global Girlfriends was written by Stacey Edgar, and tells of her passion and efforts to help poverty stricken women artisans in underprivileged countries through a fair trade market opportunity.
Right off the bat, I was surprised by the statistics listed in the book. Did you know that there are 1.3 BILLION people living in extreme poverty on less than $1.00 a day?! Seventy percent of that number is women. I simply can't imagine not being able to send my children to school, or feed them, or give them clean water to drink. Yes, our country is in an economic slump. Yes, times are tough. I still don't have to walk for miles and miles to bring contaminated water to my home.
I also didn't realize that women in the United States control 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions. *This makes it even more surprising that Dr. Pepper would promote a campaign titled "It's Not for Women". Duh. Not only is it offensive, it's dumb, too.* The point is that as women, we can help improve the lives of other women (and their families and communities) by supporting them through our purchases.
Stacy wanted to create a company, "Global Girlfriends", that would exclusively sell women-made, fairly traded and eco-friendly goods. She started with her $2000 tax return and set to work to make it happen. She goes into detail about her many trips to various countries to visit the women artisans that Global Girlfriends supports. The chapters seem to jump around a bit, which may only be bothersome to me....I like for a story to start at the beginning and go in order. (imagine my discomfort while watching the movie Momento, which starts at the end and goes backwards...yeesh!) But, chronology aside, I enjoyed reading about the artisans in each country and Stacy's experiences. I was shocked at the simplicity of their lives, but then found myself wondering if these women ever scratched their heads over our overly complicated lives. They seem to be filled with joy, even though they don't have much. I sit here, in my house with the AC on, my computer on my lap, the TV turned on, waiting for the washing machine to finish a load while Jay cooks steaks in the kitchen and I can still forget to be thankful? Shame on me, my friends.
I would have liked for Stacey to include more details about her personal, day-to-day life in making this company work. She did an excellent job describing the difficulties of traveling,
communicating outside our own culture and navigating customs, shipping,
manufacturing, etc. But, for example, who took care of her 3 kids while she was traveling abroad? She makes it clear that her husband supports her efforts, but literally, who picked her kids up from school? How was she able to juggle kids, husband, grocery shopping, homework, illness, lunches, etc, all while filling and placing orders? How did her kids feel about her garage, basement and dining room being over taken by boxes of shipments? Was it difficult or did everyone just go with the flow?
Also, I feel like the tag line "Stacey Edgar had a two-thousand-dollar tax return and a deep desire to help provide economic security for women in need." is a wee bit misleading. Yes, she had only $2000, but it seems that she had much more than that, too. Her husband's family is prominent in the political world and therefore had connections to organizations and people that many of us would not be afforded. Also, Stacey has a group of tight knit friends that were able to help her tremendously. I mean, I have friends...very good friends that I know would drop everything and help me in whatever way they could (and they have!), but Stacey's friends were available to help for hours and hours every week. My neighborhood during the day is like a ghost town. Everyone is at work! The other women that I know that are at home are busy taking care of little ones, so while they may be available to chat briefly on the phone or get together for a play date, they certainly don't have hours to donate. Please don't misunderstand me, though, I'm not saying that Stacey was being dishonest or anything....more like her $2000 is a lot different than MY $2000.
Overall, I admire her work and her tenacity to further the cause of helping women. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to start a similar business venture. Go look at the website here, make a purchase and help a woman get out of poverty. If a book can inspire me to do something to help someone else, then it must be a good thing, right?
My thanks to Katy for the opportunity to read Global Girlfriends. I definitely would not have picked it up on my own, but I'm glad I did.
Friday, May 4, 2012
This toy has lived in our house for years and years.