Tag Archives: What is Fair Trade

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.

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Showing Love for Everyone on Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

It’s the day of hugs, kisses, and love, so let me say “Happy Valentine’s Day.” On this day you should spend time with your special someone, your best friend or take a time out just for yourself. We all love to receive and give gifts on Valentine’s Day but we have to remember to not be a blind consumer. It is estimated that Colombia will export around 500 million flowers for Valentine’s Day this year, and although this creates a large amount of jobs for the locals, it can come at a high cost. So many of the flowers that are bought each Valentine’s Day were picked by women workers who are underpaid, exposed to harsh chemicals, and are made to work extremely long hours. It is great that the Flower industry creates jobs for many Colombians but we should make sure these workers are treated the way we would want our loved ones to be treated. Flowers are still a wonderful gift but please support Fair Trade companies like www.oneworldflowers.org. If more people showed support for Fair Trade flower companies, others will follow suit.

We can’t forget about everyone’s love for chocolate on Valentine’s Day but this year makes sure you purchase Fair Trade Chocolate as well. Would you want to buy a bar of chocolate for your loved one if you knew an abused child was forced to collect cocoa seeds? From www.oxfam.org.vt.edu I found out that 40% of the worlds cocoa supply comes from West Africa where children’s rights are being violated; “U.S Department of State estimates that 109,000 children are working in an abusive labor environment with as many as 10,000 suffering as victims of human trafficking or enslavement.”Although there have been steps by the government to enforce rules and regulations on this problem, it has persisted. The way you can help stop these horrendous crimes is by buying Fair Trade! You will not only be supporting a company that is looking out for their employees, you will also be sending a message that you will not stand for child abuse, low working wages, and an unhealthy working environment. There are so many different ways you can show someone you love them and show workers around the world you love and respect them as well.

If you would like to find out what companies sell Fair Trade chocolate go to www.fairtradeusa.org. You can also tell if you’re buying Fair Trade by looking for the Fair Trade logo, shown to the right. If you aren’t looking for a sweet treat to say “I love you,” it is always great to just send a special message to someone! Hope For Women‘s Portraits of El Salvador cards and Pressed Flower Note cards are Fair Trade products that are all handmade by women artisans, making each one unique.

When you buy Fair Trade you are showing love, which is exactly what Valentine’s Day is all about.

Written by Mary Mathias

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.

Like a Good Cup of Socially Responsible Coffee? So do we.

8 Nov

We’re proud here at Hope for Women to be headquartered in the same beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

GMCR was founded back in 1981, but just last month they made major headlines for being dubbed the world’s largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified coffee in 2010 by Fair Trade USA. To put that in numbers, that’s over 26 million pounds of coffee- amazing!

Needless to say, GMCR has been doing much more than simply creating a delicious tasting coffee for the past 30 years. They have also been dedicated to engaging in socially responsible business practices, and it’s making a big difference-

“Our business success enables us to invest in a more just and sustainable future — whether through sales of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, energy and waste reduction programs, awareness building campaigns, new product development, employee benefits, projects in supply-chain communities, volunteerism, grants, or product donations,” (greenmountaincoffee.com).

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is also committed to supporting Fair Trade farmers spanning all the way from Latin America to Africa through community development projects. Some of these projects include establishing new health clinics, building roads and creating scholarships.

GMCR has also chosen to work with Hope For Women by having us create a GMCR branded tagua key chain for them to use in their marketing and promotional materials. GMCR could have chosen any supplier for this, but made a conscious decision to choose a Fair Trade, eco-friendly product that comes from one of the major coffee producing countries they work in.

I urge everyone to take a moment and explore GMCR’s fun and interactive website and Facebook page, and while you’re at it, make sure to check out their many varieties of coffee that we have all come to love and yes, even depend on.

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!