Culture & Entertainment

Female-oriented fundraising misses the mark

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Female-oriented fundraising misses the mark

June Dresses raises money for Calgarian high school students Anyone who has read my blogs in the past knows that I’m a firm believer in gender equality. I support and speak out about female causes as much as I can. But there are still some initiatives that I can’t get behind. Like Beyoncé’s contributions to the Sheryl Sandberg campaign Ban Bossy. (Talk to me when you ban the word bitch, Bey.) But that’s just one example of how a pro-femme pitch has missed the “mark” in “marketing.” There are still others that, while likely genuine in conception, come across as sexist or totally irrelevant. I’m not sure which is worse. Take, for example, June Dresses, a fundraising initiative from the United Way that supports programs aimed at empowering Calgarian women. The pilot campaign was launched last year and raised $10,000 for the female cause. It’s back in 2014, this time benefiting All In for Youth, an initiative developed by the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council and aimed at reducing the female high school dropout rate in Calgary by 50 percent. While that’s a cause I can get behind, the campaign isn’t. How it works Girls and women interested in participating in June Dresses can sign up at junedresses.ca. There they can pledge to forego pants for the month of June, create personal profiles, share photos of their dresses and interact with the community. Why it misses the mark It’s unclear what wearing dresses has to do with education. Are we supporting our fellow females by wearing the uniform of pre-suffrage women? Not only does the campaign fail to relate back to the cause itself, but it glosses over the real issue of education and the reasons why so many girls drop out. Not that United Way isn’t alone in this oversight. When one thinks of breast cancer awareness, images of pink ribbons and 5K races come to mind rather than medical research and health-care advances. It’s arguably the most well-known of all female-oriented campaigns yet, although commercialism and sexual imagery have raised the profile of breast cancer advocacy, it hasn’t helped raise awareness. An “I heart tatas” bumper sticker doesn’t tell me that breast cancer is the second deadliest cancer affecting Canadian women. Rather than addressing the hard and ugly issue a campaign is meant to tackle, we make the truth a little easier to swallow by hiding it in a pretty pink package. And it seems as though this might be unique to fundraising efforts aimed at females. The facts about education in Alberta According to the Calgary United Way, only 75 percent of high school students in Calgary finish their diplomas on time. Of those who graduate, only 58 percent attend a post-secondary institution. The annual societal cost of a single high school dropout is $15,850. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that there will be 100,000 unfilled jobs in the province of Alberta by 2017. What this means for June Dresses While I’m not a fan of June Dresses, All In for Youth is still a worthwhile cause. If you’re up for the challenge, by all means, participate. But I’m not sure why we consistently try to empower girls by telling them what to wear or not to wear. Can we find a way to get female issues across without involving dresses, makeup or the colour pink? (Photo: All In for Youth/June Dresses)
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Female-oriented fundraising misses the mark

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