This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it’s been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic’s economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.
But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.
“Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most,” says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.
Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.
And now, for International Women’s Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.
“I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me,” Burch says.
This year’s Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:
Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani
Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn’t a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.
Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman
Varsha Yajman is another one of this year’s nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen’s and several big Australian banks at AGMs.
Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy
Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.
Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon
Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.
Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi
Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin’ with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You,” won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine’s best podcasts of 2020.
And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.
Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she’s selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.
Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empow