Tag Archives: hope for women products

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.

How to have a Fair Trade friendly Valentines Day!

6 Feb

Looking for an original way to show appreciation for your valentine this year? Commit to Fair Trade!

Here are some ideas on creative and socially responsible alternatives to the average Valentines Day gift:

1. Fair Trade Chocolate– Chocolate is an essential part of every Valentines Day, but this year consider options such as the Valentines products from Divine Chocolate, the only Fair Trade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers. Company ownership gives the farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry.  Another option, which comes in wide array of unique flavors is Alter Eco chocolate. They offer 10 different types of chocolate bars such as dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark mint, and dark with crystallized orange peel. A third Fair Trade, organic option is Equal Exchange chocolate, which comes in a variety of forms and flavors, each as delicious as the next!

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2. Fair Trade Flowers Many people are not aware of the exploitation that occurs within the cut flower business in order to keep costs low.  Commit to buying Fair Trade flowers this Valentines Day in order to insure that you are not contributing to the mistreatment and abuse of workers.  One wonderful option is One World Flowers, an organization that sells all Fair Trade roses and has a large selection of Valentines Day bouquets.  One of the arrangements in particular, the Helping Haiti bouquet allows you to contribute to a cause while showing appreciation for your valentine because 10% of the purchase price is given as a donation to Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts in Haiti.  Another great option if there is a Whole Foods near you is to buy their Whole Trade Guaranteed or certified organic flower arrangements.  These floral products are grown according to strict criteria for ethical trade and earth-friendly farming.

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

3. Fair Trade Wine–  A bottle of wine is another essential component of most Valentines Day celebrations, so why not make it Fair Trade? There are now Fair trade wineries in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.  Here is a list of the the Top 10 Fair Trade Wines to help you make the best selection.

4. Fair Trade Jewelry & Accessories– At Hope For Women we are offering a Valentines Day special of 15% off select purple, red and pink products, which would make perfect gifts for your valentine! If you are looking to buy specifically gold jewelry for your special someone, check out Fair Trade and Fair Mined gold from the Fairtrade Foundation.

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet - Fire -

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet – Fire –

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

ReStyle Men's Wallet - Red -
ReStyle Men’s Wallet – Red –

56 Million Pounds of Tagua Exported in 1929 – Can Tagua Rise Again?

28 Jan

Tagua, also known as Vegetable Ivory, is the seed found within the pod of an Ivory Nut Palm. We use tagua in many of our Fair Trade products but few people know about the fascinating history of this important rainforest seed. 

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A Brief History

Up until World War II, tagua was a widely used material and was exported from South America on a massive scale.  In the early part of the 19th century approximately $5,000,000.00 worth of tagua seeds were exported annually from South America.  The major producing countries were Ecuador and Colombia; Ecuador reached a peak in 1929 when it exported 56,861,236 pounds of tagua. Throughout the 1920s, 20% of all buttons produced in the US were made from this material.  However, with the introduction of plastic, and other cheaper synthetic alternatives, the popularity of this unique natural material drastically declined.

How Hope for Women Uses Tagua Today

Tagua has exceptional carvability, which is where it’s nickname, Vegetable Ivory stems from. This quality makes it the perfect material to create jewelry from.  The tagua seed is removed from it’s pod, stripped from its outer shell and polished.  Depending on the desired look, the hull is either completely removed or only partially in order to create a striped “zebra” look.

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The Harvesting of Tagua

There is no harm done to the rainforest during the harvesting of tagua because these seeds are collected after they have fallen to the ground.  In fact, the collection of tagua helps to provide incentive to local forest inhabitants to keep the rainforest intact. At Hope for Women, we use two different types of tagua seeds from Colombia.  Chicon tagua grows in the upper montane rainforests in the Narino Department of Colombia and is collected by Awa Indians who are indigenous to the region.  Coastal tagua, which is bigger than chicon, grows in the Pacific coastal rainforests of southwestern Colombia and is collected by Afro-Colombians.  The collection of these seeds provides great opportunity and much needed income to both groups who harvest them, helping to improve their lives.

Afro-Colombian collectors

Afro-Colombian collectors

An Awa Indian collector

An Awa Indian collector

View this slideshow and video to see and learn more about the complete harvesting process:

The Finished Product

Finished whole tagua in multiple colors - both solid and zebra

Finished whole tagua in multiple colors – both solid and zebra

Tagua is an excellent material to work with for jewelry making not only because it can be cut, carved and polished with ease, but it also because it easily absorbs coloring agents.  This allows you to find tagua pieces in your favorite colors! Hope for Women artisans handcraft the tagua seeds into beautiful pieces of jewelry such as the ones below:

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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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Hope for Women featured in Stonyfield’s Rewards Program!

25 May

Did you know that Vermont has the highest people to cow ratio than any other state (almost 2:1)? For me, this and my love for all dairy products are some of the many reasons why supporting businesses like Stonyfield that create dairy products from local farms like those in Vermont and New Hampshire is so important. Aside from the delicious taste, buying Stonyfield yogurt has always made me feel good as a consumer because of Stonyfield’s commitment to community outreach, environmental efforts, and quality products.

And even though yogurt and Hope for Women’s fairtrade handcrafted items may seem like completely different products, there are many ways in which they are similar. Like Stonyfield, at Hope for Women we are committed to creating quality products that our costumers can both enjoy and feel good about purchasing because they are made with environmentally sustainable materials through fair business practices, and support women and families who need the income to survive. In this way, both Hope for Women and Stonyfield products are geared towards the “conscious consumer” who care not only about what they purchase, but about the story behind their purchases. It seems natural, then, for Stonyfield and Hope for Women to forge a connection between their products.

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Enter Stonyfield Rewards Program. Through this program, simply by eating yogurt and other Stonyfield products, you can get free Hope for Women handmade cards or tagua bracelets! Now, not only can eating Stonyfield Farm products support local farms (and their many Vermont cows) but it can also support women artisans in India who create beautiful tree-free (the paper is instead made from recycled cotton), non-toxic, and recycled pressed-flower cards and those in Colombia creating beautiful SimpliciTree tagua bracelets!

   
4-pack of India collection                    SimpliciTree tagua bracelet (amythest color)
handmade cards

To get involved, go to myStonyfield Rewards and create an account (it’s free and fast!). Once you have signed in, you can add points to your account by entering reward codes from the foil lids of Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers (or see the Stonyfield website for code locations on other products). Once you have enough points, you will be able to redeem them for items like Hope for Women’s 4-pack of handmade, Fair Trade Himalayan flower cards or SimpliciTree tagua tree bracelet! Thus, just by eating yogurt, you can help join the community of conscious consumers and support environmentally sustainable practices, fair trade, and women’s rights!

Seems like a pretty good deal to me! Free goods and community outreach all in one!