What is Fair Trade

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade organizations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.” —World Fair Trade

Photo: Curtesy of Creative Women Textiles

I remember when my knowledge of fair trade products available was pretty much chocolate and coffee. Since then, I’ve learned that there are so many fair trade products on the market from fruits, vegetables, spices, beauty products, clothing, home décor, gifts, and yes, lots of delicious coffee and chocolate. So what’s the difference between conventionally produced products and fair trade and why should we care?

Well, the difference, is quite simple; when you support fair trade, you’re supporting a movement that stands up for the producers/artisans and protects their right to receive fair pay for the work they do so they may send their children to school and support their families. The fair trade movement seeks to combat the injustices experienced by the most vulnerable populations in the world, such as poverty and exploitation.

Studies have shown that women represent over 70% of the lives that are impacted by fair trade. This is significant as many of the workers are mothers caring for young children and need to be able to work from home. When a woman producer is empowered by fair trade, she will be making a contribution to uplift her community, become a leader, and inspire others to do the same.

Below, we’ve outlined the 10 fair trade principles. The WFTO prescribes 10 Principles that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld:

photo: courtesy of Serrv

Create opportunities for marginalized and economically disadvantaged producers so they may move from poverty and income insecurity to economic self-sufficiency.

Ensure that the organization is transparent in its management and commercial relations. Involve employees, members and producers in decision making processes.

The organization trades with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers and does not maximize profit at their expense.

Fair payment will be mutually negotiated and agreed upon as it pertains to fair prices, a fair local living wage and equal pay for equal work by men and women.

Ensures no child labor and no forced labor as the organization adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national/local law on the employment of children.

Commitment to non-discrimination, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, and freedom of association.

The organization provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and complies at minimum with national and local laws to ensure good working conditions.

The organization seeks to increase positive developmental impacts by working directly with small producers to develop skills in production, and management.

The organization seeks to raise awareness of the fair trade impact and advocates for its objectives.

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible.

We hope this article provided you with valuable information and inspired you to consider fair trade the next time you’re shopping for yourself or your family. If you have any thoughts, ideas or knowledge you’d like to share about fair trade, please comment below; we’d love to hear from you!

 

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