Kate Spade New York Partnership

Women for Women International Partnership Marries Design with Economic Empowerment

HAND IN HAND: our designs. her livelihood. your support.

Washington DC, November 2nd, 2009 — kate spade new york and Women for Women International (WfWI) are proud to announce their exclusive, partnership called HAND IN HAND. Together they'll create much-needed economic opportunities for women survivors of war.

Starting in November 2009, the holiday collection of kate spade new york will feature merchandise hand-crafted by WfWI graduates in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The women, who have received a year of rights and vocational skills training at the hands of WfWI, will be offered access to normally scarce employment opportunities by knitting hats and gloves for holiday as well as additional items in upcoming seasons for kate spade new york.

The HAND IN HAND partnership is such a crucial opportunity to help Bosnian women rebuild their lives and that of their families and contribute to the stabilization of their country's economy," said Zainab Salbi, founderof Women for Women International.

This model of public-private partnership has proven a valuable tool for countries that are struggling to develop--roughly a third of Bosnia and Herzegovina's workforce is unemployed. The slowly recovering economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina has left women especially vulnerable; eighty-one percent of the marginalized women Women for Women International works with in Bosnia and Herzegovina are unemployed at the time of enrollment.

Women for Women International was founded 16 years ago to assist Bosnian women who had survived horrific experiences in the Balkans wars and genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of women were raped and civilians lost their lives. Salbi says: It is so important to me that sixteen years later we are able to deliver such concrete opportunities to women who have survived so much and feel much of the world has forgotten them. The launch of HAND IN HAND is actually the launch of a new era in our ability to move women survivors of war from victim to survivor to active and productive citizens."

The enterprise is the next step in an ongoing product development partnership over the past four years. WfWI provides the training in knitting for the women, with creative direction from kate spade new york. Knitting, a traditional skill in the region that has passed through generations of women, is now a source of income for these enterprising women. This partnership has helped WfWI graduates transform their traditional handcrafts into beautiful winter accessories. Rabija Mujalo, a participant of the Women for Women International training program and sponsored employee of kate spade new york, says "I earned nearly as much money knitting at home in my spare time as my son who works full time in a factory." Rabija's story is an example of how HAND IN HAND is creating sustained economic self sufficiency.

Since 2005, kate spade new york and Women for Women International have been working together to promote micro-enterprises for women in the still recovering communities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. In an effort to encourage the transition from artisans to entrepreneurs, the 2009 WfWI curriculum for the country included additional training in commercial aspects of fashion and handcraft production through a grant donated by the Joyce Fund.

"Working with Women for Women International is truly inspirational because it so directly benefits the woman's daily life," says Deborah Lloyd, Creative Director and Co-President of kate spade new york, Giving these women the opportunity to support themselves and provide for their families has been an invaluable experience to the brand and myself. We're very proud to be part of their work."

The HAND IN HAND partnership will be featured in Elle Magazine's December issue. Hand knitted hats, mittens, scarves and dog sweaters will be available for sale in kate spade new york stores and online beginning November 2nd, 2009.

Women for Women International works with women survivors of war and conflict to help them rebuild their lives, families and communities. For more information regarding HAND IN HAND please contact Shannon Madlin at smadlin@womenforwomen.org.

 
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