Perhaps the sweetest aspect of being human is found in how inextricably connected we are with each other, regardless of race, gender and lifestyle. Our global community is a wonderful mishmash of different cultures, values and ideas. But as history has revealed time and time again, women aren’t always equally represented. Thankfully, there are a number of incredible female-centered charities working around the clock to make sure our voices are heard.
Alanis is a loyal charitable activist who believes that investing in important causes can yield incredible returns on a global scale (which is probably why she received a Global Tolerance Award from the United Nations), as well as a sense of connection within. Here, we explore eight of her favorite organizations that are devoted to the empowerment of women.
For over two decades, Equality Now has been working tirelessly to level the playing field for women and girls across the globe. The focal point of their work is the idea that basic human rights are our birthright, regardless of our gender; something that inspired Alanis to join the group’s advisory board. By partnering with like minded grassroots organizations, Equality Now turns their words into action. They pinpoint discrimination and identify cases of female abuse and discrimination. And, most importantly, they affect real change. Areas about which they’re particularly passionate include sexual violence, discrimination in law, sex trafficking, and female genital mutilation.
What would this world look like if we all put the quality and functionality of our relationships at the top of our priority lists? This is precisely the question being posed by Relationships First, a nonprofit organization on a mission to transform the world around us by investing in human connection. Cofounded by Alanis and leading authors and leaders within the relational movement (John and Julie Gottman, Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Dan Siegel and Caroline Welch, Sue Johnson, Diane Ackerman and more). This call to action makes sense; think about all the energy we expend on withstanding or buckling within the dysfunctional relationships in our lives. If, instead, we can transmute that pain into a vehicle for awareness and healing, the resulting energy shift is likely to have a far-reaching ripple effect on our day-to-day lives—and the world at large. This belief system applies to not only our physical relationships with others, but also the relationships we have with our own selves and with God. It seems fitting that Alanis herself selected the name “Relationships First” for the organization, with her being a self-professed “relationship woman”.
National Eating Disorder Association
Eating disorders affect a startling number of women (20 million in the U.S. alone). The National Eating Disorder Association is facing the epidemic head on, working toward early intervention and improved access to care. Going beyond treatment, NEDA is using both the media and community involvement to spark a national conversation about eating disorders. The group calls out unhealthy cultural messaging surrounding weight and beauty, and urges us all to come into our true selves. Nurturing the body is an absolutely essential part of this journey, something Alanis believes in deeply. In 2009, she ran the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon to help raise both funds and awareness for NEDA.
Girls Not Brides
Girls Not Brides is a multi-country, global initiative designed to protect young girls from child marriage. Instead of being forced into unwanted matrimony and sexual activity, the group spreads a message of hope and independence. According to Girls Not Brides, 15 million girls are forced to marry as children each year; some are as young as 8 years old. Not only does this bring their childhood to a grinding halt, it also denies them the opportunity to pursue their education and personal path—a profound human rights violation. Girls Not Brides is blowing the whistle on this archaic and abusive practice.
Attachment Parenting International
Attachment parenting is structured in a way that supports the nourishment and bonding between parent and child—which is what developmental experts say is exactly what our little ones need to create a secure attachment, the platform that allows them to grow into functional and connective adults who can live a life of great vitality, awareness, self-love and contribution. Attachment Parenting International is breaking down the stigmas surrounding this beautiful, empowering movement, and revealing it for what it truly is; an approach to parenting that fosters security, and thereby more compassion, empathy, interdependence and functionality in the world.
It seems that American children are being put under more and more pressure to perform on state-mandated, standardized tests. But as the great education leader and author Sydney Gurewitz Clemens put it best: “Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves, instead of more like everyone else.” Enter P.S. Arts, a much-needed initiative devoted to providing our children with access to the arts. Using in-school programs, the organization reaches thousands of children throughout California, most of whom are in underserved communities. The gist here is that every child deserves high-quality art instruction. And that fostering artistic expression in young people nurtures all the qualities and capacities that allow growth and expansion for them (intellectually, physically, emotionally, etc.) throughout their lives.
MADRE is an international, women-centered organization that uses human rights to move social justice forward. In addition to prioritizing emergency and disaster relief and spotlighting rape prevention in warzones, MADRE also mobilizes women throughout the world to take part in female activism efforts. Past projects have included collecting donations of vitamins, medical supplies and breast pumps for the Afghan Midwives Association.
Days For Girls International
Getting your first period is a welcome rite of passage for young girls. One to be celebrated and marked with honor. For many, unfortunately, menstruation brings shame and isolation. Instead of seeing this natural act of the body as a sacred and empowering aspect of femininity, many young girls worldwide are left unsupported, scrambling for feminine hygiene products. By providing eco-sustainable feminine hygiene kits, Days For Girls International helps keep girls from missing school due to their periods. (The organization reports that many of these girls are reduced to using newspaper, mattress stuffing and even rocks in place of pads or tampons.) This charity helps preserve their dignity, allowing them to see their bodies for the beautiful miracles they are.