The SCARF Society By Casey Margarite
What if every women and young girl had the confidence to share their inner light with the world? We would now be able to hold up the entire sky.
Across the state of Florida, women are not harnessing their strengths for a multitude of different reasons. Across the world- this problem grows exponentially. There are multiple women and children that are homeless, in foster care, have mental disorders and are victims of human trafficking, right in our Orlando community.
The ratio of male to female owned businesses in Central Florida is 4:3, yet Florida ranks 26th for women’s success, health and economic prosperity and women in Florida make 84 cents on the dollar (Center for American Progress Action Fund).
The numbers are not adding up. Something is affecting families, our communities diversity, youth, and the overall economic development of our cities.
The SCARF Society believes that accountability and having a strong support network provides resources, mentorship and friendship at the best and worst of times. It is community. It is the force that says, “You are not alone- you have the power inside of you to move mountains, and I want to see you shine.” When a woman is afraid to speak her truth, the world is missing something beautiful. We started this conversation in 2015 after our mentors inspired us to speak our truths- especially for those women that are not able to around the world.
In Orlando, there is a need for more discussion and action around the global equality of women. We need to understand the gender disparities and work to bring a diverse group of females to the table. Hearing from a multiple perspectives from different socioeconomic backgrounds allow conversations to reach new heights, and communities to grow.
Casey Field, the University of Central Florida student that founded the SCARF Society in 2015, had always grown up around young women. The women around her were shy and timid- they did not speak out in fear of being wrong or simply due to lack of confidence in their own thoughts.
From homeless young girls and women on the street, to women that lacked mentors and family support, all of them had one universal need- the need to have a safe space to talk about their issues and feel in community with others.
Field traveled to China and the Dominican Republic to share her message and was recognized via invitation by the Clinton Global Initiative University and World Academy for the Future of Women for her women’s initiative. When she returned home, Casey saw the need for young girls like her sister to have strong mentors and women in their life.
The SCARF Society exists to empower women to use their passions and wisdom to create positive social change in their communities. It is an organization that provides a platform and safe space for the discussion of community issues and needs and builds mentorship opportunities for women and young girls.
The SCARF Society uses scarf swaps to create this conversation. The event starts off with white posters on the walls and a SoapBox style conversation that empowers every woman to have the opportunity to rise and speak out about their passions and issues in their community. Following the focused discussion, each women writes their story on a scarf and then exchanges it with another “future sister” in the room.
To date, the SCARF Society measures its impact by the number women and stories exchanged at our swaps. They also intend to track the stories and secondary impact created by the women that attend our events and are inspired to embrace their light and purpose because of them. To date, the society has hosted swaps in Orlando, on the UCF campus, for the women of UCF Hillel, at the World Academy for the Future of Women in China and have impacted more than 400 women around the world.
The SCARF Society aligns with SDG Goals: 5, 10 and 8. Goal 5 is gender equality. We work to help women develop confidence and community in order to feel safe sharing their passions with the world.
Goal 10 is reduced inequalities- We want to reduce the gender gap between men and women around the world and help connect women to the resources they need to build confidence and thrive.
Goal 8 is decent work and economic growth- in Florida 18% of women live in poverty. We believe that by providing a space to recognize the passions and progress of other women, we can create future business opportunities, connections, and relationships that will boost economic prosperity internationally and locally.
The next step in the journey for the SCARF Society is to create a for-profit SCARF Society Collection, novel to express the work of brave women around the globe, and a network of resources for women innovators to create economic opportunity in their city by starting their own companies.
We want you to join our movement. To share your story, harness your passion and find sisterhood with an international group of brave women, please email firstname.lastname@example.org ! We will be hosting winter events soon- get your scarves, stories and ideas ready. We cannot wait to watch you change the world!
Men- we want you in the room too!
Special thanks to Tiffany Hughes, Roy Reid, the ATHENA International Network and the entire board of the SCARF Society for the believe in the power of women around the world.