FairTrade Caravans is pleased to announce our new year-round partnership with Dressember! When consumers come to our website, Dressember is now one of four nonprofits they can choose from to donate 25% of their purchase.
Dressember? It’s a concept that blends wearing a dress (or a tie), the month of December, and awareness of human trafficking.
Every December, the Dressember Foundation hosts a month-long conscious decision to wear a dress. Advocates from all over the world wear a dress – or tie – for 31 days to raise awareness for an all-too important cause: ending human trafficking. While most people know that human trafficking exists and is a horrible thing, not many people know the facts versus the fictions of this issue. To educate and empower others with information and resources, the Dressember Foundation has created a community that aims to help end human trafficking.
What started as a style challenge without a cause or campaign element soon blossomed into a passion with a huge purpose. Founder Blythe Hill came up with the idea of wearing the same dress every day for a month in college. She didn’t really intend for it to become an idea that would stick, but the next year her friends were ready to join in. Friends joined, then friends of friends, then random followers, and now future world changers are participating. Adding a fundraising element to a fun fashion event allowed Blythe and others to move from feeling powerless in fighting against human trafficking to feeling empowered in making a significant impact.
Dressember was not only created out of a general passion for fashion and helping others, but there is also a an element of personal experience. At a young age, Blythe herself experienced sexual abuse and spent years – even decades – in therapy dealing with the impact of her experience. The shrapnel and reverberations from this situation gave Blythe a glimpse into what others are experiencing in the world of human trafficking. When talking about her experience and the impact it had on her life, Blythe said, “This is what continues to compel me into this work.”
The Foundation started with the simple goal of raising awareness and sparking action. From there, the impact has continued to grow and develop into educating others about the realities of human trafficking and providing resources and programs to help address this issue. While there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation around human trafficking, there are also a lot of ways to support people experiencing the vulnerabilities that may put them at higher risk for trafficking.
“We know that trafficking rarely occurs as a lone injustice; it is an intersectional human rights issue preying on individuals with compounding vulnerabilities.”
– Blythe Hill, Founder of Dressember
Because of these varieties of vulnerabilities, Dressember aims to address the whole cycle of trafficking – from advocacy and prevention to intervention and survivor empowerment. Dressember partners with twenty programs across the world that focus on needs such as aftercare, therapy, safe housing, job training, and more. Dressember has even launched two of their own internal programs to fill in gaps that they saw in the support of trafficking survivors. They’ve created a scholarship fund where the dollars are specifically aimed at helping survivors take a step towards their future through vocation and education support. This often helps survivors avoid returning to a situation of economic hardship.
Whether or not we want to think too seriously about the reality of trafficking, unfortunately it is a more common topic than people realize. Less than 1% of human trafficking is due to random kidnapping, and instead the majority is due to compounding vulnerabilities such as:
- previously experienced sexual or physical abuse
- disconnection from an education system
- involvement in foster care or child welfare systems
- low-income communities
- lack of sustainable economic opportunity
- oppressed or at-risk communities
So, while not everyone is equally at risk, everyone is still susceptible to vulnerabilities. We all know someone who has experienced – or is experiencing – a circumstance from the list above. We all know people who are vulnerable. We all have been vulnerable ourselves in some form or fashion. When we think about human trafficking, we should think of our loved ones – our neighbors, our friends, our sisters, our daughters – and we should imagine the pain we would feel if one of them was caught in the snares of human trafficking. So many innocent young women – and men – are taken advantage of in situations that they can’t control, and that is why Dressember exists.
Dressember not only attempts to approach their aid from every angle, but they also do this year-round. Even though the name “Dressember” has a focus on the month of December, the platform is open all year long to start fundraising pages. It only takes about two minutes to create a campaign online, and then the organization will offer an abundance of resources that will equip and empower advocates when it comes to talking to others about human trafficking, building support for survivors, raising funds for financial campaigns, and more.
When talking to founder Blythe Hill, she said, “We underestimate our own power. We downplay the power or influence that we hold in our lives.” Dressember is empowering and bringing others to realize this. We need to embrace the power and the influence that we have. We have power in our relationships. We have power in our buying decisions.
We have the power to fight back against human trafficking in both big and small ways – whether that means wearing a dress for thirty-one days or donating to the cause. At Dressember, fashion and fundraising go hand-in-hand.
“We work closely with ethical brands to promote conscious consumerism and to ensure that fashion empowers and does not exploit.”
– Blythe Hill, Founder of Dressember
When it comes to working closely with ethical brands, Dressember is part of FairTrade Caravans’ ongoing program to partner with national nonprofits to give back year-round. Both Dressember and FairTrade Caravans have very common goals: the education and spread of awareness, the fair treatment of individuals, and the respect that all people deserve. You can shop our products here and make it a win-win purchase as 25% of what you buy here will go to Dressember.
Consider this your personal invitation to be part of Dressember – to do something that is easy and fun but that has the power to make a significant impact. Participate in their fair trade fundraiser on our website, learn more about Dressember by visiting their website or share their new documentary with friends and family to show others about their global movement to end human trafficking and how we can build a better world together.