International Women’s Day

2 years ago on International Women’s Day I gave my friend Jenni a blank gift certificate and said to her, “It there is a dream inside your soul, you have never put on the ground…

If there is something you have always wanted to say yes to, but haven’t…

Then this gift certificate is for your longed for, unspoken dream.”


Jenni sat on the gift certificate for nearly 12 months.

I would ask her, “What do you long for?  Have you got any idea how you want your dream certificate used?”

She would respond, “I’m thinking about it.”

I would reply, “So long as you are thinking about your dream and not everyone else’s.”

I was hoping she would come back with, “I want to go on a romantic holiday with my husband or I want to take the kids to…”

12 months later, on International Women’s Day, she sat across the table from me and said, “Shaz, is the dream certificate still available?   I want to build a sanitary pad factory in India and I want to educate women about menstruation.”


We had her dream.


This amazing woman’s dream involved loving others.


I remember bringing the dream to the International Womens Day Event I was hosting.  On the outside I did my thing. Advocating the dream, releasing the dream, championing the dream and feeling very enthusiastic about the dream.


On the inside I went “Crap!” ( Being honest )


“We have to raise $40,000.  Me and my big mouth!  How on earth are we going to do that? What have I gotten myself into!  Sometimes Sharon you just need to keep your mouth closed or at least put limits on what you offer.”


I crawled into bed, beside my husband late that night and went, “Honey, I’ve just committed to raising $40,000 how on earth is it going to happen?”  He rolled over and said, “Don’t know!  Good night!”


12 months later my friends dream is alive.


I have no idea how we raised the $40,000 for a sanitary pad factory.

All I know is generous men and women caught the dream and gave.


Now we are raising money for the second Sanitary Pad Factory


When you have a population of 1.37 billion and 70% of India’s 355 million women cannot afford to purchase hygienic sanitary pads, 25% of girls drop out of school because of obstacles created by menstruation, there is a lot of space and need for sanitary pad factories and education.


Here we are in this space sending love on its way


This International Women’s Day I didn’t host an event.

(I was too frightened to invite Jenni back and I wanted to place some limits on my mouth.)


Instead we have put all the dreams and hopes International Women’s Day creates into creating this beautiful web site so the dream can be shared and other men and women invited into this unfolding story of love.


I am grateful to so many people this International Women’s Day because in 12 months so much has been achieved:


  •  Money raised for the first factory
  • Building Acquired and manufacturing equipment purchased
  • Girls trained in how to make sanitary pads
  • Girls about to be trained in sales, marketing and health education
  • Women raised and trained to run the project on the ground
  • Women in India feeling so empowered and excited about this project they are now fundraising.
  • Locally we have ambassadors putting their hands up saying, “I will help!”
  • Our beautiful web site has been created.

And a total of

 $57,662 has been raised in 12 months.


I am grateful to my friend Jenni Chacko for dreaming.

I am grateful to my friend Celine Egan from Juice Plus who has helped with strategy.

Grateful to the girls at Tailrace Community who have come on board and accepted one of Sharon’s crazy moments.

Grateful to all the people who have given, donated, shared and put their hand up to help.  So grateful.

I am excited and grateful to our New Ambassadors:  Claudine Clarke, Kerrie Gibson, Shen Puccio, Susannah Wilkinson, Alice Dowie.

I am very grateful to the team at Mezzanine Media for their help with the web site.

To the team at Empower Aid – Jason and Simon thank you for your questions and support.

Thank you to MVisuals, Michael and Kate O’Neill for all the stories you have captured.

Thank you to my gorgeous family who always get behind Sharon’s craziness and help make things happen.  Love and appreciate you.


So here’s to the next 12 months and who knows what International Women’s Day might look like next year?

A national event of celebration???

Who knows…

Thank you for loving girls and women in India.

Sharon O’Neill