AUCKLAND: Organic Initiative, (Oi) today encourage all women to reach out and support socially disadvantaged New Zealand women: Make a small, but meaningful gesture, because periods are one thing that all women have in common. Oi, a new organic cotton company (starting with sanitary products, available now in supermarkets), is thrilled to be partnering with, and supporting, Annah Stretton’s RAW (Reclaim Another Women) Initiative.
From today, Oi customers will have a unique opportunity to gift a box of tampons, pads or liners to a women in the RAW programme with one simple click. As they buy their monthly essentials, they can choose to reach out to a woman who’s on a path to change her life, and the lives of her family, and her community, in a positive and empowering way.
“The RAW Incubation Programme is something that many of us would struggle with if we had to go through it, so getting behind these women, and this extraordinary programme, is a unique opportunity in my eyes. One that doesn’t exist anywhere else in New Zealand,” explains Executive Director and Oi’s Co Founder Bridget Healy. “A privilege, in fact, that breaks the cycle and presents an opportunity to help another woman make positive changes in her life and find meaningful ways to contribute to society. One fabulous opportunity. A chance to reclaim their lives and to take control of their destiny in a powerful and positive way.”
Oi’s ‘Buy a Box, Give a Box’ initiative can be found on their website www.oi4me.com. Whilst customers are buying what they need, they just tick the ‘Give a Box’ box and $5.99 will be added to their order. Oi will then make sure this certified organic cotton sanitary gift is dispatched to the RAW programme.
At the vanguard of real change in New Zealand is Annah Stretton, her sister Rebecca Skilton and other family members. Annah, Just recognised as ASB Social Entrepreneur of the Year, is helping women offenders, some in prison, some on probation, to help them make a better life for themselves, through supported living. She gives us some insight into the women who need our support: “Many of us will never have an understanding of the environment these women are from: Women born with few opportunities, where a life based on crime is socially acceptable, lucrative, the pay-out is good, the working hours are reasonable, and if you get caught, prison isn’t such a bad place to go to. At least there’s surety around food, shelter and companionship.” explains Annah. “Their options are limited from the get go and integration into mainstream living is as foreign to them as moving to another country. Oi customers are enlightened people, already making a smart life choice, it’s a natural step for them to want to reach out to these women and their small gesture will make a big impact.”
Oi will be supporting this partnership with a campaign creating awareness around RAW and running a ‘money can’t buy’ competition where winners will see their slogan on an Annah Stretton designed t-shirt. The t-shirts will then be sold to help raise money to support RAW.
“Oi wants to end that feeling of helplessness that many Kiwi’s feel when it comes to making real change. Many of us turn a blind eye because we believe the problem is too big to tackle on an individual basis. While this response is understandable, Oi wants to help. We’re all about big change through baby steps and we know our customers will be delighted with how easily they can now make a difference to fellow Kiwi women.” adds Helen Robinson and Oi Co Founder.
The ‘Buy a Box, Give a Box’ scheme is more than just tampons; it’s an acknowledgement, an acceptance, and a rallying cry that says ‘I see you and I stand by you, you are not alone, we walk this path together, woman in support of women, side by side’.
The RAW partnership is imperative to Oi and what Oi stands for. Bridget Healy explains: “Oi believes in business as a force for good and wants to close the divide between women, educate through awareness, dismantle unhelpful judgement and prejudices and create a new vision of what is possible. Oi’s vision is to inspire positive change by transcending social and cultural barriers. We measure our success by the positive impact we have on people and on the world. We see ourselves as revolutionaries and we aim to empower people everywhere to make healthy choices for themselves and the world.”
Oi, with RAW, are on a mission to raise awareness for women in socially disadvantaged situations in New Zealand through education. Begin this journey with us, we believe women are pivotal and have the power to make enormous positive changes within our communities. Join us and help change our world, and make a difference. Education changes everything, and through education women are empowered to build a future for themselves and their families. We all want to be able to say ‘I made a difference, I changed a life’.
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Notes to editors:
OI was founded by social enterprise businesswomen Bridget Healy and Helen Robinson as a positive response to the impact of traditional tampons and pads on both women and the environment. By drawing attention to the problem and ensuring mass availability of an everyday product, they hope that women, together, can change their world.
Oi pads, panty liners and tampons are free from viscose, rayon, chlorine, dioxin, wood pulp, pesticides, plastic, perfume and unnatural super absorbent materials. Experts in women's health and gynecologists recommend organic cotton over synthetic alternatives which have the potential to cause irritation and inflammation to the most sensitive part of a woman's body.
Oi products naturally biodegrade in 5 years, while synthetics take about 500 years or more. By choosing Oi customers can personally contribute to reducing long-term waste and their environmental footprint.
An incubator programme, which offers life-long tiered support, through educational pathways, for socially disadvantaged women.
With a tried and tested business model, that leading global entrepreneurs have advanced in developing countries, RAW breaks the cycle of drugs, crime and violence for around 60 (15%) of the New Zealand female prison population through supported living, education and work.
RAW is helping women offenders, some in prison, some on probation, to help them make a better life for themselves, through supported living. In March 2015 RAW opened its first 'incubation house' in the Waikato - far removed from distractions. Today RAW has three 'incubators' operating with four women in each. Their goal is to grow the number of incubator houses in operation up to 15 by the end of 2016 and have over 50 women in study and/or employment.
The RAW incubator programme begins in prison where women are assessed against rigid criteria to confirm their readiness for change and for “incubation”. On release from prison, RAW women are placed in incubator homes which house up to 4 women, including one house mother (usually a RAW woman who has been out for more than 4 months.) These homes have been secured and rented by RAW in the Hamilton area.
The incubated girls have also been approved by Corrections to re-enter the Wiri Prison to promote this initiative to other inmates – this is unprecedented!
To date they have an almost 100% success rate with the women that have been released into incubation. They have not been recalled and are actively involved and guided in selecting educational change that acknowledges the country’s biggest skill gaps; IT, engineering, art, health and the trades.
To fund one women through this life change costs around $13k pa, whilst to fund a women in prison costs $100k pa. Rather like Oi, this is a no brainer.