Tag Archives: Fair Trade Resource Network

Fair Trade: Empowering Women Around the World

27 Mar
These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group that Hope for Women is proud to work wtih

These women formed Arte Comasagua, an artisan group in El Salvador that we are proud to work with.

Poverty and gender inequality are main factors which cause women worldwide to lack employment opportunities and to struggle to support themselves without the aid of men. Engaging in trade can be especially difficult because in many societies it is considered inappropriate for women to take part in this type of work. Fair Trade promotes gender equality through imparting equal wages and providing women with economic opportunities. It also encourages women to take on leadership positions and to fully participate in discussion and decision making about business practices.

Fair Trade gives women the chance to provide for themselves and their families, which strengthens their position in society and gives them the resources and skills needed to take control of their lives and futures. Below are examples from around the world of women who have been empowered by Fair Trade and were able to create a better life for themselves.



Fair Trade USA featured a story on Hinga Kawa, a Women’s Association, which is part of the  Abakunda Kawa cooperative and is comprised of a group of women who joined together as a community to sell their coffee. Many of these women are widows or orphans due to the genocide in their country, so they hold many responsibilities at home as well as at work in the coffee fields. By forming Hinga Kawa, these women are able to take pride in selling coffee that they have grown and also have a supportive network of women who share their hardships. Although Fair Trade has not made these women rich, it has provided them with an income that will allow them to send their children to school and still be able to feed them.

Hinga Kawa Women's Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda

Hinga Kawa Women’s Association of coffee farmers in Rwanda


The story of one woman, Donha Conceção, also featured by Fair Trade USA exemplifies the major, life changing impact that Fair Trade can have on struggling women worldwide.  When Donha Conceção was widowed with five children to care for, she was left with only the knowledge of coffee farming as means of survival.  After a period of extremely difficult times, she decided to join the Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative, Coocafé, where she learned to farm more sustainably.  Through their aid she was able to increase the quality and price of her coffee.  The resulting success of her coffee business enabled her to provide for her family and send all of her children to school.  She became the first woman to be elected to Coocafé’s board.

India and Nepal

The World Fair Trade Organization conducted research on the role of women in the market and what benefits they receive from group membership and Fair Trade.  They looked the Artisans Association, ACP (Association for Craft Producers) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), which are Fair Trade working projects for impoverished women in India and Nepal. The women involved were able to earn their own income in a society where women face many restrictions such as the inability to receive higher education and a lack of resources or employment options. They reported that the rare opportunity they were given allowed them to become skilled, capable craftswomen in a safe environment.  Also, the contribution they made to their household income changed their husband’s attitudes towards them, causing them to be treated with with more respect and to be given more authority.


Photo: Carol Wills

In numerous other countries around the world women are benefiting from the increase in Fair Trade initiatives.  What could be better motivation to support Fair Trade than to know that your purchases are ethical and are contributing to the ability of women worldwide to take control of their lives.


Barrow, Katie. 2010. Women, Coffee & Hope: Fair Trade is Blossoming in the Hills of Rwanda. Fair Trade USA.

FairtradeUSA. 2010. Grandmother, Coffee Farmer, Leader: Meet Donha Conceção.

Jones, Elaine. 2012. Women’s Economic Empowerment Through Fair Trade: Case Studies from India and Nepal. World Fair Trade Organization.

Photo: “Women Coffee farmers in Rwanda” from Fair Trade USA.


Support Fair Trade (in less than 1 Hour!)

11 Jan

New Year’s Resolutions can be difficult to stick with, so instead of getting down on yourself, get up with Fair Trade! Here are a few ideas you can use to incorporate Fair Trade into your everday life.

Consumer preferences shape communities. Green America estimates that consumers keep THREE TIMES more money in their community when they spend it at a local business (vs. when they shop a chain store). Fair Trade Federation member Partners for Just Trade estimates that artisans keep 4-20 TIMES the amount of money when you shop Fair Trade. Who wouldn’t feel good about that?!

In 1 hour or less:

  •  Write a letter about Fair Trade to your local newspaper or government official
  •  Ask local stores for more Fair Trade products
  •  Support a Local Fair Trade Shop- Simply put, choosing Fair Trade benefits you, the people who receive your gifts, your local community, and communities around the globe – it’s a way to quadruple the impact of the choices you make!
  •  Shop Online! Along with www.hopeforwomen.com more than 160 FTF members have on-line stores that can bring great items right to your doorstep. 
  • Email this list to ten friends and challenge them to get involved in Fair Trade!

1 Day or Less

  •  Educate your community by organizing a movie screening about Fair Trade
  •  Host a talk (even among friends) on Fair Trade
  • Plan your trip to Boston for the Fair Trade Futures Conference

1 month or Less

  • Read Fair Trade: A Beginner’s Guide by Jacqueline DeCarlo
  • Take the Fair Trade One-Month Challenge (Over 4 weeks pledge to only use Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate  to support producers in the developing world so they can acquire fairer wages and better support their families and community.)
  • Organize a  Fair Trade Sale at your school or community center. Rally your community together around the great items that Fair Trade Organizations have to offer by putting together a community sale. 

1 Year or Less

  • Make your town a Fair Trade Town

Just in time for a Fair Trade Holiday!

11 Nov

We are very excited to introduce yet another fantastic fair trade and eco-friendly product line- just in time for the holidays! Each collection has five different angels to choose from. CLICK HERE  to see the full collection.

The Orange Peel Angels are created using 100% recycled orange peel captured from Colombia’s thriving street juice vendors; these unique angels represent the best of combining Fair Trade with eco-friendly. The range of green and orange color of the sterilized recycled peel highlights the natural quality of each handmade angel… plus they smell great too!

Orange Peel Angel

Corn husk dolls have been popular in Colombian culture for centuries, and our beautiful Fair Trade Angels will bring that tradition into your home this year. Each handmade angel is made from natural corn husk and wood, and adorned with a recycled orange peel accent – a nice touch!

Corn Husk Angel

These angels are hand-shaped from a traditional Colombian mixture of corn flour, water and paste. No die or mold is used, so each angel is unique to the women artisan’s hands who shaped it. A modern design using a classic process.

Corn Flour Angel

Each angel is approximately 3” tall with a 2 ½” loop. A great ornament or collectible!

A few words from Evan Goldsmith, President of Hope For Women during Fair Trade Month!

6 Oct

October is Fair Trade Month and there are hundreds of activities happening worldwide to highlight the importance of Fair Trade and the positive impact that it is having on farmers and artisans around the world. Fair Trade Month is an effective way to celebrate successes and make more people aware of the Fair Trade product offerings that are available to them. Check in with Fair Trade USA, the Fair Trade Resource Network and the Fair Trade Federation to find out what events are happening near you – have fun and get involved!

Hope For Women is celebrating Fair Trade Month by stepping up our social media efforts on Facebook and Twitter to provide useful information on how Fair Trade is making a real difference in people’s lives, and by trying to find more ways to incorporate Fair Trade products into our daily lives – we look forward to sharing our results with you! We are also participating in Vermont’s annual Fair Trade Business Forum  on October 23, 2010 where I will join 5 other Fair Trade businesses for a panel discussion with the public to answer questions about Fair Trade. Watch our video on how our Fair Trade Tagua is gathered, polished, dyed and created into beautiful jewelery for you!

So make this October your Fair Trade Month – use your purchasing power to choose Fair Trade products, take 2 minutes to tell 5 people how Fair Trade products make lives better, share your efforts on Facebook to show your network how you support Fair Trade products and producers – there are so many simple ways for you join in. Together we can bring Fair Trade products into the mainstream so the farmers and artisans who create the products we use everyday can enjoy the same opportunities that you and I do. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
I always appreciate hearing feedback so please feel free to send any thoughts, changes, and requests my way through our celebration of Fair Trade Month.