Tag Archives: Fair Trade USA

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.

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Rwanda

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

Brazil

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.

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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.

Sources:

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.

Go Fair Trade for 2013!

16 Jan

Its Not too Late to Start a New’s Years Resolution

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A Hope For Women artisan from India who helps to create our beautiful handmade cards.

Hard to believe it is over two weeks into the new year!  Are you still struggling to decide on a New Year’s Resolution? We have a great suggestion for you that will positively impact many other lives as well as your own.  Why not make the commitment to buying Fair Trade products whenever possible? By making this resolution, you will be insuring that the products you purchase are created by people who are earning a fair, livable wage for their hard work.  With Fair Trade products, everyone wins; workers are empowered, lives are improved, and consumers are able to buy amazing products that are produced in a way that is line with their values and beliefs.  Here are a few ideas on how you can begin acting on this New Year’s resolution:

1. Give a Fair Trade Gift EarthLover is a Fair Trade,  Eco Friendly retailer that sells beautiful, handmade goods from around the world. They carry a wide variety of bags, shoes, wallets and other accessories for men, women and babies as well as home goods and body products. http://www.earthlovershopping.com/

Gifts with Humanity is another business that sells hand-crafted, Fair Trade products from various regions across the globe.  They have a diverse assortment of tableware and home decor, which could be given as the perfect hostess gift. http://www.giftswithhumanity.com/

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Hope for Women carries a large selection of unique jewelry and accessories to choose from, which are made from innovative recycled materials such as tire tube and Eco leather. http://www.hopeforwomen.com/lifestyle/products/

2. Send a Fair Trade Card Hope for Women carries beautiful, handmade, “tree-free” paper cards.  These artistic cards are perfect for any occasion.  Valentine’s Day, for example is just around the corner and our gracefully designed cards created with pressed wild flowers would make the perfect valentine!  http://www.hopeforwomen.com/lifestyle/products/indianotecardcollection/

3. Drink Fair Trade Coffee An alternative goal to reducing your coffee consumption could be to instead commit to buying it responsibly by finding Fair Trade certified options. This allows you to support coffee farmers and eco-friendly farming methods while continuing to satiate your caffeine addiction.  Grounds for Change for example is a certified organic coffee roaster, which specializes in 100% Fair Trade coffee and also sells Fair Trade organic tea, hot chocolate and chocolate bars.  http://www.groundsforchange.com/index.php?

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4. Start Buying More Fair Trade Foods Equal Exchange is a co-op that sells not only Fair Trade coffee, but also numerous other Fair Trade products from farmers worldwide such as tea, almonds, chocolate, sugar, olive oil, and bananas. This co-op can help you to purchase many of the foods that you buy on a regular basis, in a way that empowers small farmers and encourages sustainable farming methods! http://www.equalexchange.coop/index.php

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Fair Trade Your Feast

16 Nov

Fact: Thanksgiving is the real reason the world created elastic waste bands. From the painstakingly arranged veggie platters to the lumpy casserole dishes to the endless pies and glazed fruit pizzas, this is the one day of the year that we literally do not stop eating, and it is glorious. It always catches up to us, of course, usually right when we settle in for the third quarter of the football game and suddenly realize we’re in dire need of ginger ale and a bottle of TUMS. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the inevitable post-turkey tummy ache, but I can help you smarten up the way you shop for your family’s feast.

This time of year, grocery stores are crawling with crazed cart drivers, weaving in and out of isles in a reckless race to find all of their last minute ingredients for their turkey day meal. My advice: take a breath! Lower your stress level and the likelihood of a potentially catastrophic cart-on-cart collision by taking a little extra time while you shop.

First off, instead of going straight for the giant bin of generic turkeys trucked in from across the country and packed with preservatives, help out your community and try buying a local turkey! And forget trying to make sense of complicated labeling, just look for the Fair Trade Certified label on some of your favorite products. These products include a wide variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, oils, coffee, wine, chocolate, ice cream, tea, yogurt, granola and tons more to help make your meal complete! Curious about specific items? Search for products on The Fair Trade Foundation’s products webpage. This Thanksgiving, join us here at Hope for Women and support a better Thanksgiving.

Pets Love Fair Trade, Too!

2 Nov

Here at Hope for Women, we’re big animal lovers. I think it’s safe to say that most of us pet owners out there would consider our furry friends to be a part of the family. For all that our fluffy felines and playful pooches do to keep us happy and healthy, the least we can do is return the favor and treat them with some socially responsible Fair Trade products. Your pet will feel great and so will you! A win all around.

Felt catnip-infused mouse toys, food and water bowls, doggy sweaters and bandanas, rope toys, beaded and bamboo dog collars, tasty treats and shampoo bars are just a few of the many Fair Trade products your pet can enjoy. The holidays are sneaking up on us as usual- have you checked your pet’s wish list lately?

Lucky for us, there are many great resources we can turn to to help guide us through the Fair Trade pet product purchasing process. Organizations like Global Goods Partners, Real Animals Fair Trade, Fair Trade Trends and Bark for Peace are some of the many places where we can read up on these products and maybe even do a little shopping for our beloved cats and dogs. Even just one Fair Trade dog biscuit can help make a big difference in people’s- and animal’s- lives the world over. It’s a small gesture that can make a big change. Check it out today!

Featured Retailer: Willy Street Co-op

26 Oct

Hope for Women is excited to be featuring Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Wisconsin! Willy Street Co-op, like many great things, started out small and simple, first serving their community back in 1974.  Known as the “new wave” of consumer co-ops that began in the 1960s and early 1970s, born out of the ideas and philosophies of that period’s counterculture, these co-ops were pioneers in a growing health-conscious society and in what came to be known as the “natural foods” industry that we all know and love today! 

Today, Willy Street Co-Op is Madison’s largest consumer-owned natural foods store, offering the finest organic and locally-produced foods with a new location located in the Parkwood Plaza, at 6825 University Ave in Middleton.

If you have ever been to Madison you know it is a great place to live and shop. That is just one of the reasons that there is a community of people and groups that support sustainable development, fair trade, local artisans, their communities and the environment. In fact, like Hope For Women’s hometown of Burlington, Vermont, Madison is also a Fair Trade Town!

We are thankful to Willy Street co-op for being a loyal supporter of Fair Trade and Hope For Women products. Be sure to find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter!