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Why Do Fair Trade Products Matter?

6 reasons Fair Trade products matter, and ways you improve the lives of women and families worldwide when you shop Fair Trade.

1. Moms Can Provide for their Families

Around the world in developing countries, women are in dire situations. You have likely seen these on the news or in documentaries. If you would like an introduction, watch the film Half the Sky.

In many cultures, women are not allowed to make decisions or to work outside the home. At the minimum, this attitude cultivates a negative attitude toward women.

At its worst, this situation can lead to abuse, the treatment of women and girls as property, and more. In some places, the reality is that parents who are out of options may surrender their children to human traffickers or crowded orphanages.

Fair Trade products help keep families together. They are made by moms who are creative and resourceful; they just need a market to sell their products. Women are more likely to spend their earnings on education for their children and healthcare, so when women work, entire communities prosper more.

2. Women Are Empowered and Learn New Skills

In the midst of the problems of poverty, if we stop to look at the strengths in global communities we see that many women have incredible artistic and business skills, or the ability to learn a new skill.

Fair Trade products matter because they are a path to independence. Often a group of artisans establishes a cooperative owned by its members, and everyone gets a vote in decisions and does a share of the work. Women may be able to earn enough to leave an abusive relationship and make more of their own choices.

In other cases, a social organization teaches new techniques and advises on product design for the Western world. Some companies make micro loans at a fair interest rate for supplies, so that the artisans can keep a consistent supply of inventory for their customers.

When a woman claims the opportunity to run a business and learn new skills, she also builds self-worth. Many artisans have expressed that they feel hopeful about the future and believe in their own abilities more. Fair Trade products matter because a steady income also decreases the risk for human trafficking and abuse.

3. Gender Equity

Fair Trade organizations and certifiers are deeply committed to gender equity. Women and men are paid the same and are allowed to serve in any role, plus work is done to dismantle the stereotype divisions of “women’s work” and “men’s work.”

According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), women in a Fair Trade enterprise are FOUR TIMES more likely to be promoted to a leadership role than in a conventional business. Women are also more likely to hold Board positions, become CEOs, and hold other senior roles.

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This commitment leading the way for the rest of the world, and conventional companies are beginning to notice that businesses led more equitably are also more successful. Also reported by the WFTO, gender diverse businesses are outperforming others by an amazing 15%. WOW!

Handmade gifts and handcrafted jewelry from these global artisans are not just physical items; they are stories of the struggle and victory of finding freedom. This is another reason that Fair Trade products matter.

4. Children Can Go to School

One major key to breaking free from poverty is education. If a family is struggling to survive, children may stay home to work in the fields or sell something to help the family’s income.

When parents are sustainably employed, children can worry less about work for the family’s needs and can more consistently attend school. If the family’s income is stable in a long-term Fair Trade business relationship, home life is more stabilized and children can also focus and learn better.

 As we mentioned above, women especially invest their earnings in their children’s education. School books and uniforms can be costly, but if a mom is working for a fair and living wage, she is much more likely to be able to provide these necessities.

When a mom can send her children to school, her confidence is often further boosted because she can see that she is providing a path to a better future for them.

Fair Trade products matter: when you buy these goods and gifts from around the world, you are joining this effort to provide opportunity to these moms and their children.

5. Cultural Traditions Are Preserved

As the Western world has industrialized and automated more and more processes, cultural handmade traditions are often at risk of becoming obsolete. Some beautiful artistry and techniques fade with time.

 In a Fair Trade organization, culture is a primary value and the traditional skills of a group are important to its success. Beautiful weaving traditions in Guatemala or fabric dying in India, for example, passed down for generations, can continue because the organization has established trading partners who can export to the U.S. and other areas around the world.

Your shopping is a partnership to preserve these cultural traditions. This is why Fair Trade products matter.

6. We Vote for the World We Want

Fair Trade products matter because they give you a voice. You don’t have to perpetuate a system of unfair labor practices and abuse -- your shopping dollars can make a difference and vote for a better way of doing business.

When you purchase Fair Trade, you are proving that this system works. Artisans are paid a fair wage, shoppers get a beautiful product, and more Fair Trade items can be produced.

When you ask questions about where your global items came from, retailers and distributors are confronted with the reality that they may not know the answer.

When you ask your local grocery store to carry Fair Trade coffee, you remind people in the food industry to learn more about Fair Trade.

We know you are asking these questions because you want your purchasing to make changes in the world. Fair wages and fair practices make that possible.

Where to begin?

Whichever reason you find most compelling, Fair Trade products matter. Whether you want to empower women, help moms send their children to school, promote gender equity, preserve culture, or know that your choices count, your choices matter.

 There are so many great ways to be involved with Fair Trade. Here’s what we suggest.

·        Keep learning -- follow us here, and we’ll share more reasons and education.

·        Dedicate some of your shopping to Fair Trade products. Click over to our online store and get started right now!

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