As sexual violence is largely an act of exerting power, sexual predators inevitably tend to look for vulnerable victims to prey on. In Third World countries where wearing undergarments is the norm, women who cannot afford to buy them are the ones who do not wear them. As a result, women from economically weaker sections are more prone to be victims of sexual violence. In an attempt to address this issue, 28-year-old Hayley Besheer founded a company called MADI Apparel.
MADI, which stands for Make A Difference Intimates, was started in 2014. Through it, Hayley aims to donate undergarments to women who cannot afford to buy them. She was quoted by Startland News as saying,
“(Underwear) is a social and wealth standard. In many Third World communities outside the US, if you had underwear you were not as targeted because you are looked at as if you had more money, or a husband, or a brother looking out for you. If you didn’t have underwear, it puts a target on your back.”
MADI was launched with the purpose of donating a pair of underwear for every underwear that is bought, and so far the company has successfully donated 4,300 pairs of underwear to women from all over the world.
In an attempt to make MADI Apparel the most impact creating underwear firm, Hayley ensures that all products are made from bamboo since fabric made from it sustains for a longer period of time and also dries fast. This is to make the beneficiaries’ life easier in situations where they have access to only one pair of underwear. Talking about the importance of her project to The Pitch, she said,
Making women feel great about themselves is one of the main things we support. The MADI movement as a whole is about positivity and body awareness…. Underwear makes a woman feel confident. No one knows it’s there, but she does. Not many people include underwear in their clothes drop-off.
Despite the fact that underwear is one of the basic needs, it is something that is donated very less not just in the US but across the globe. Hayley started her firm when she felt she wanted to bridge the gap. Women beneficiaries aren’t given some random pair of underwear just because they are receiving it for free. They get to choose the style that they want to wear in most cases and they are also given a handwritten personal note.
The sales of the company have been increasing at 25 percent quarter-on-quarter since its inception. Currently, they have successfully donated in eight countries and plan to collaborate with an Indian orphan shelter and donate underwear to the orphans there. Hayley also has plans to extend her donation of underwear to rape clinics and disaster-relief centres.
Hayley’s intention is to make a positive difference not just through the products she sells, but also with the people she employs. She plans to launch a new programme through which she intends to give employment opportunity for ‘at-risk’ women from Kansas City where all the firm’s products are being manufactured now.