From the moment I founded Cate Calco and first started designing my shalley, I was motivated in large part by the spirit of female empowerment. Yes, a shalley can be a pretty accessory, but far more importantly it makes getting dressed for the day so much easier.
I found it frustrating to have to change my clothes to go from work to an evening event if I wanted to feel suitably dressed for both, when I'd rather have spent the energy preparing for a presentation (for example). I found it a hassle to wander on holiday in hot and humid climates and have to dress in long sleeves or bring a bulky alternative to cover up in modest cultural sites, when instead I could have packed a spare bottle of water and enjoyed the trip more comfortably. The real value of a shalley is really in the sense of freedom and empowerment it gives you over your body, your day and your life.
But I wanted Cate Calco to do more in driving more impactful change, because I really do believe in the words of George Bernard Shaw (paraphrased here):
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one... I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."
I can think of no more powerful way of empowering a woman than giving her access to an education. And that's why it was an obvious choice to partner with the Wonder Foundation. Their sole purpose and focus since their founding in 2012 has been to help girls, women and their families throughout the world get access to education to exit poverty for good.
Having been raised in a family where education beyond the age of 18 was nearly not made accessible to me because of my gender, I have never taken it for granted. I know how every course, certification and degree has enriched my life through knowledge and skills, but also through friendships and networks as well as self-confidence and self-reliance. I can picture a world in which every girl and woman is given access to achieving her own full potential in this way, and it's a vision I would like to see become a reality. I sincerely hope, as tomorrow is International Women's Day 2019, you'll choose to mark the occasion by embarking on this journey with us.