Sophia Bush's #MyTrueBeauty Campaign Aims To Empower Women Around The World, And Here's How You Can Help

When I asked Sophia Bush, longtime activist for women's empowerment and education around the world, how she's seen the climate change for women since she started her career, she responded, "it's important to celebrate the progress that we're making but also not get complacent, because there's still so much to do." I sat down with the Chicago P.D. star on International Women's Day to discuss her involvement with EcoTools' #MyTrueBeauty campaign, along with her ongoing efforts to empower women around the world, and what we can do to help. She defined "empowerment" as "having the opportunity to pursue your dreams and follow your passions," and that's exactly what she's hoping to give back to girls through her philanthropic work.

The busy actress is on the board of The Girl Project, and has teamed up with environmentally conscious beauty brand EcoTools to spread positive messages about women's empowerment, self-confidence, and living your true beauty. For International Women's Day the brand encouraged women to share messages of empowerment by spreading positive images of women on social media accompanied by the hashtag #MyTrueBeauty. For every social media post with #MyTrueBeauty that tags EcoTools, the brand donates a dollar to The Girl Project. "We're going to raise $100,000 for The Girl Project this year," Bush declared with confidence, and rightfully so. She teamed up with EcoTools last year for another cause she was passionate about, and for every brush sold they donated one dollar, quickly reaching the $100,000 goal. This year they wanted to work on a bigger scale and participants don't even need to buy anything, they just need to spread the message.

Bush has made it clear that while we are moving in the right direction towards empowerment, equality, and education for women, the disparity is still staggering. She tells Bustle:

It’s incredible to see more women of all ages, and races, and sizes getting great roles in film and television but it’s still not enough when you look at the statistics of what men are doing versus what we’re getting to do. So yes, celebrate those amazing things but also say ‘Hey, we haven’t quite come far enough.’ I think that that’s true really for any industry and in a lot of spaces. In parts of the developing world where education access is so tough, you still see more boys going to school than girls. And that’s something that we’d like to try to equalize.

Greater strides have to be made if we are to achieve the kind of progress Bush envisions. She encourages others to get involved with the cause at whatever level they can. "Whatever it is you want to do, there's always a way to start," she says. It can go beyond spreading the message on social media and clicking online to donate. Make room in your schedule to contribute in other ways, by reaching out to your community and giving your time. You're never too busy to get behind the causes you care about.

The former One Tree Hill actress is currently in the home stretch of season three of Chicago P.D., and is gearing up to read scripts for the show's hiatus, while also considering just how much she wants to take on before season four — she hasn't decided if she wants to work or just take a break yet. But, what is for certain is her philanthropic involvement will remain a constant. Bush admits, "it just feels like a dream come true, really, for me to be constantly looking at ways in which I can lend a hand." She's proud she can use her platform to try to motivate other people to use theirs, "because it's really if everyone starts working together that we make big change." Here are her suggestions for what you can do to empower women around the world.

1. Share a message of empowerment

On International Women's Day and beyond, Bush is encouraging women to use social media to share messages of empowerment by posting an image with the #MyTrueBeauty hashtag. To make both a social impact and a monetary donation, "women literally just have to say, 'this woman — my mom, my sister, my best friend, me — inspires me so much that I want to post about her.' And that's it." Bush plans for the #MyTrueBeauty hashtag to develop into something bigger, and as it lives on and more and more women share their stories, she hopes to see it become "this beautiful catalog of awesome things women are doing."

2. Donate to The Girl Project

For those looking to contribute even more, they can visit The Girl Project's website to make a donation. The goal of the project is to make sure that 50 million girls around the world who don't have access to secondary education get it. What really excites Bush about The Girl Project is the amount of reach. It's an umbrella organization for four partners, Communities in Schools, Girls Inc., CARE, and Plan International USA. It's important to her that it's not an American organization or an international non-profit — instead, they're working in 95 countries including the United States, all at the same time. With this approach, Bush says "we can really address what each of those communities needs in its own unique way, whether that's tuition costs, whether it's providing uniforms, whether it's helping to fund mentorship programs, after school programs, or self-esteem projects for girls."

3. Google what's going on in your area and volunteer

Bush makes time in her schedule to become fully involved with the the causes about which she's passionate and she encourages others to do the same. She says, "if you're passionate about something, jump on your computer and Google what's going on in your area. See if there's a place that you can volunteer." Giving your time to the causes you support can have the greatest impact.

4. Read to kids at schools

While also helping to tackle education inequalities abroad, you can make an impact first-hand right at home. Volunteer within your local community to read to kids at school, tutor, and help provide school supplies.

5. Work in a women's shelter on the weekends

Take a few hours each weekend to volunteer in a women's shelter. You will be directly helping your local community and also the broader community of women.

6. Donate your next birthday, and make it a fundraiser for The Girl Project

As Bush can tell you firsthand, making a positive impact can be super simple and very fun. On your next birthday, choose to forgo presents and instead make it a fundraiser for The Girl Project. Guests can commit to varying amounts depending on whether they want to contribute to school supplies, mentorship, support programs, or an entire year of tuition.

7. Recognize each other and support one another

Bush has long been a champion of uniting women and cultivating a supportive female community. As we wrapped up our conversation, my last question for Bush was who she wanted to acknowledge on International Women's Day. She replied that she couldn't help but think about her mom, who instilled in her the confidence that allowed her to evolve into the woman she is today. "When the world tries to break your confidence down as a girl as you grow up, having that base from her was really helpful." Bush also thinks about her best friends: "I have such an incredible group of women that I lean on that are my biggest champions and I am theirs, and man I am so lucky."

Images: SophiaBush/Instagram (7)