How the YWCA International Boutique Helps Women

When I first stumbled upon Toronto’s YWCA International Boutique, I loved that it had really interesting and beautiful items from around the world. When I became a volunteer, I discovered that
there is so much more to the Boutique than just unique merchandise. InternationBoutique-08sm

There is a really wonderful virtuous circle that is happening at the Boutique. First, all the people who work there are volunteers. Second, all the products we sell support fair trade organizations. And finally, proceeds from sales support overseas projects that improve the lives of women and girls.

People from all walks of life and careers donate their time to the Boutique. As one of those people, I know that I get as much out of volunteering there as I give. InternationBoutique-02sm

One of the wonderful things that makes the YWCA International Boutique special is how our buyers select the inventory. Our two primary buyers, Anne and Marcia, work very hard to balance the international products with locally designed and produced jewelry, art and household gift items. Keeping inventory fresh and interesting is a challenge that all shops would have. Our Boutique has the added complexity of finding treasures that are fair trade and ethically produced. Ensuring artisans are fairly compensated and well treated is a critical part of our virtuous circle.

Then, there is the backbone of the Boutique’s mission: to invest proceeds from sales into YWCA projects abroad that help women and girls. Last year, funds helped offset the travel costs to send a young woman from YWCA Kenya to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City. We supported YWCA Honduras’ maternal health programming for young women. We also made a multi-year commitment to support YWCA Jordan in developing a Centre that will serve the growing numbers of women refugees from Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, when you shop at the YWCA International Boutique, you help to double our humanitarian impact. You are helping to create change in the lives of women and girls here in Canada and abroad.

Nicole Preston is a volunteer at the YWCA International Boutique

Please note that in June 2018, we sadly bid farewell to the YWCA Toronto International Boutique. For over 40 years, the Boutique has worked to provide fair trade and local artisan goods, with all proceeds going to support YWCA World projects around the globe. Click here to view just a few moments of that admirable history.