Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Bizarre Women mix business with social justice
Entrepreneurs gather to show their products as well as learn about human trafficking
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Discovery Toys, Norwex and Tupperware were just some of the home-based businesses featured at the Bizarre Women's Entrepreneurial Business Show.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Local women searching for new ways of earning extra cash found a few bizarre ideas at St. Joseph’s Basilica.
The Bizarre Women, a subset of the Catholic Women’s League, held an entrepreneurial business show March 7 in the basilica’s O’Leary Hall.
“The Bizarre Women’s mandate is the promotion of the Catholic Women’s League and membership. We try to host events that tie in with the mandate,” said Natalie Rose, organizer of the business show.
The inaugural show featured about 20 local entrepreneurs showcasing their many and varied products, and offering a variety of home-based business opportunities for women.
The event was a chance to network and learn more about the options for home-based businesses, including ACN, Discovery Toys, Mona Vie Juice, Mary Kay, Epicure, Pampered Chef, Tupperware and Norwex, among others.
“This was a way to bring vendors together and provide a smorgasbord of business opportunities available to women,” said Rose.
Vendors commented that the morning snowfall and cold temperature might have negatively impacted attendance. Those who showed up got the chance to check out business opportunities, network with like-minded individuals, as well as sample cultural cuisine at the international kitchen.
The business show was also aimed at raising awareness of the local and international issue of human trafficking. Proceeds from the event were split equally between Servants Anonymous, a nonprofit group that raises awareness of human trafficking, and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO).
Human trafficking is the recruitment of people, mostly women and children, for the purposes of slavery, forced labour, sexual exploitation and servitude.
Angela Kastelic, working with Servants Anonymous, greeted guests. The organization’s aim is to reduce human trafficking, particularly in Third World countries, and they work to get children out of the cycle of sexual exploitation. This is a global problem, with some countries luring girls into prostitution.
“With these girls, often their parents are told, ‘We have a wonderful opportunity for your daughter, we’re going to give her this great job, and she’s going to Canada, and she’s going to have all of these great opportunities available to her.’
“Then she’s sold into a brothel and she’s told that she has to work until her debt is paid for. She’s never told how much that is or when the debt is paid for,” said Kastelic.
She distributed information about Servants Anonymous and WUCWO to business show visitors. Some of the information she called “sickening.”
For example, some countries offer tours for men looking for prostitutes — any woman, any age.
Around for centuries, human trafficking became truly socially unacceptable in the last part of the 20th century.
In 2002, the United Nations declared that trafficking in human beings was the fastest growing business of organized crime, generating about $5 billion to $7 billion annually.
FREEING GIRLS FROM SLAVERY
“There are situations where the girls have children, and the children are under the bed while their mothers are turning tricks on top of it. These girls are often locked in a room and left there until they have customers,” said Kastelic.
Servants Anonymous provides individualized programs, ongoing support, hope and wholeness to young women who are victims of, or are at risk of, sexual exploitation. Among the programs offered are recovery-oriented life skills education, babysitting service, job training, work experience and follow-up care.