Empowerment through literacy
Speaking at the start of the year, L’Oréal Group Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon reiterated the need for modern companies to play an active role in bettering society.
With this in mind, luxury brand Lancôme is taking on a cause that reflects its values and international reach: illiteracy among young women around the world. The brand’s commitment ties in directly with its mission to help women find personal fulfilment and express their uniqueness. Françoise Lehmann, Chair of Lancôme International, puts it this way: “By reaching out to women all over the world, Write Her Future is a perfect match for Lancôme.” To take this initiative forward, Lancôme has joined forces with CARE, an international humanitarian organization that provides support to some 60 million people in 90 different countries. Driven by a shared determination to act, the NGO and brand have built a partnership founded on mutual trust and complementary skillsets.
A situation that affects 76 million women globally
UNESCO says that 76 million women around the world can neither read nor write. Illiteracy is a problem that plagues the poorest sections of society in every country. Moreover, it tends to be passed down across generations, as young women in disadvantaged families quit school early to work and help their families, drastically reducing their chances of a better-paying job and making it more likely that their own children will drop out for the same reasons. Responding to this, Lancôme and CARE are pursuing a pragmatic approach that addresses the actual needs of the women. The idea is to provide them with skills and knowledge that they can apply directly to their daily activities.
Raising the cause’s profile
The two partners are concentrating their initial efforts in Morocco, Thailand and Guatemala. In each country, the campaign against illiteracy is taking a different tack. In Morocco, the aim is to reduce school failure by making it easier for young mothers to be involved in their children’s education. In Thailand, the goal is to get women recognized as valuable players in the economy. In Guatemala, the emphasis is on teaching students Spanish to help them stand up for their rights.
Accompanying these efforts on the ground, on February 20 Lancôme launched "Write your name so she can write her future,” a massive awareness-raising campaign on social media. To boost the campaign’s profile, the brand has called on its ambassadresses, including Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, and Penélope Cruz, who have agreed to put their names to the cause. Praising these actions, Philippe Lévêque, CEO of CARE France, observed: “Lancôme commands access to a global audience and can galvanize public opinion. This is an enormous strength.”
Results-wise, Lancôme hopes that about 8,000 people will benefit directly from its program over the next five years, along with another 40,000 indirect beneficiaries. The project will shortly be rolled out in Europe, notably in Germany, France, and Italy, where, as Françoise Lehmann points out, “literacy is a widespread problem as well.”