Juggling mum-life and the business got the better of me this week, so I'm a couple of days late on this post - but I still wanted to acknowledge and celebrate International Women's Day.
International Women's Day is a global annual celebration on March 8th to commemorate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It's a day to recognise the progress made towards gender equality and to raise awareness of the challenges that still remain. This year, I thought I would share some thoughts on how empowering women artisans through fair trade can make a huge difference in communities.
"Women hold up half the sky." Mao Zedong
"Women hold up half the sky" is a Chinese proverb that became popularised in the book "Half the Sky" (I highly recommend, it's a fantastic read!). The proverb refers to the idea that women make up half of the world's population and contribute equally to society's success, yet they face systemic oppression and discrimination. It is often used to highlight the need for gender equality and the importance of empowering and valuing women to create a more just and equitable world. This is something that the fair trade movement also tries to do.
Empowered women working for Matr Boomie in India.
Most women in India are at a disadvantage - in this male-dominated society, women earn only 56% of what their male colleagues earn for performing the same work. Over 55% of Matr Boomie's artisan partners are women - with a focus on creating financial independence they are giving these women a voice.
Empowering Women Through Fair Trade
When we talk about fair trade, we often think about ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions for producers in developing countries, but it also has a significant focus on empowering women. In many communities around the world, women are the primary producers of handicrafts and other artisanal goods, yet they are often taken advantage of in the global marketplace. Additionally, women may face barriers to education and economic opportunities, which can limit their ability to fully participate in the workforce and contribute to their communities.
This is where fair trade comes in - by ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions and gender equity, fair trade empowers women to earn a living wage, provide for their families and invest in their communities. Fair trade organisations also work to support women's education and leadership development, helping to break down gender barriers and promote women's participation in all aspects of society.
By supporting fair trade, we can ensure that women receive fair compensation for their work and are able to support themselves and their families.
The Ripple Effect
Empowering women artisans not only benefits the individual women, but also has a ripple effect in their communities. When women are able to earn an income, they often invest in their families' health, education and well-being. Studies have shown that when women have control over household finances, they are more likely to prioritise spending on these areas, leading to better outcomes for their families.
Additionally, when women are empowered through fair trade, they often become leaders in their communities. They are able to advocate for their rights and the rights of others, and contribute to decision-making processes. This can lead to positive social and political change in their communities.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens” Michelle Obama
Tara Treasures create beautiful, handcrafted felt products in the Nepal cottage industry - a small-scale mode of manufacturing generally operated out of a home rather than a large factory. This type of production enables marginalised communities facing income inequalities and other challenges to generate employment - they are often family-run, with a focus on using local resources and having flexible working conditions. In developing countries, particularly rural areas, it plays a significant role in helping raise the living standard of the people⚖️
At Fairplay, we are proud to support fair trade and gender equality by partnering with artisans who employ women at all levels. We believe that empowering women is essential to creating sustainable change in communities around the world. This year we are excited to focus on sharing more stories of our artisan partners with you. By learning more about the people behind our products, we hope to highlight the impact of choosing fair trade and create meaningful connections and conversations.
Fair trade is about more than just buying ethically-made products - it's about creating connections, building relationships and empowering communities to create a better world for all.
Thank you so much for your support of our artisans.
The empowered artisans who work for Above Rubies in the Philippines.