The 8th of March is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and all the awesome work done by women. But it is also a day to raise awareness of existing inequalities and of challenges humanity is still facing.
With the WFTO’s report on Alternative Business Models, we can proudly highlight how Fair Trade also tackles gender discrimination as one of the main issues. A woman is four times more likely to hold a senior management or CEO position or become a member of the board in a Fair Trade enterprise! Find the full report “Creating the new economy” here.
This year, WFTO-Europe presents to you the “Humans of Fair Trade” campaign, inspired by the worldwide famous “Humans of New-York” social media pages. During the week leading to IWD, we introduced you to a new person every day and their view on gender justice and the role of Fair Trade to overcome the challenges regarding gender equality. It is truly inspiring to see the attitudes and work environments at our members’ enterprises and we are very happy to share some insights with you. Read further to see all the portraits.
#SheEmpowersHer: The Fair Trade movement is full of examples of women bucking social norms and overcoming gender barriers. We celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 by profiling the inspiring women who are creating the path to gender equality. Find out more about WFTO’s video challenge and women empowering women.
We, as WFTO-Europe created a special video for you! It is a video about an inspiring woman, how she fights for gender equality and how she empowers other women to stand up themselves. Meet Andrea Fütterer, the head of the policy department of GEPA, Europe’s largest alternative trading organization. The video about her can be found here.
Women’s empowerment and the fight for gender justice is a daily fight. So let’s all be inspiring and empowering not only on International Women’s Day but EVERY DAY.
Humans of Fair Trade Portraits 2020
#1 – Magdalena Hansen, Fair Monkey
“Fair Trade – it kind of grabbed me. The meaning of if I mean. Suddenly I understood how well this way of doing business worked and how important it is for the producer and the ability to change the world -in a small but significant way. Of course, I knew about Fairtrade products like bananas and chocolate and coffee before, but that it also could be applied to handicrafts, that was something I hadn’t really thought about. And the impact this kind of trade compared to regular trade has, it’s just amazing.
So, when venturing out to start our company, because there was a lack of textiles produced fairly for the Swedish Fair Trade market, I really had to learn all about it.The focus is on women and their handicraft -mainly because if you want to change something for the better in this world -you need to give women a seat at the table so to speak. So that is what we do -make sure women artisans have a proper income for their handicraft and a long-term commitment to work together. And with that income the women themselves change their lives, feeling more self-assured, and their daughter’s lives, when giving their daughters a proper education, paid for by their own income.
And this whole business venture wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten involved as a volunteer in a Fair Trade shop here in Sweden. Well, that was 14 years ago, and I haven’t really looked back since. There is always more to learn, more things to do and mainly get better at running a Fair Trade business. Its immensely hard work but very satisfying.”
#2 – Asja Kunto, BHcrafts
“I can proudly say that my two passions [feminism, and the effort to keep Mother Earth clean] are perfectly combined at BHcrafts.
I truly feel blessed to be working at a social enterprise that honours and supports women with such amazing talents in handcrafting techniques, and which directly improves the lives of women artisans all over Bosnia & Herzegovina.”
#3 – Kévin, Les Jardins de Gaïa
“I come to work with a smile on my face. At Les Jardins de Gaïa, the atmosphere is warm, we all greet each other and talk to one another. Knowing that we are not just here to work, but that in our position as a flavouring agent, we are part of a chain with small tea producers is a game-changer. Here, as in my private life, it is obvious to me that a woman or a man can drive a truck or have access to any type of job. But remembering it during International Women’s Day allows changing the way people look at it, to break judgments.”
#4 – Sophie Tack, Oxfam Magasins du Monde
“Celebrating women’s achievements on March 8th is important. However, we should never forget that fighting gender-based injustices is a daily task. Choosing fair trade as an alternative model that empowers women should be the norm. It is time for policy-makers, investors and business leaders to support these models around the world.”
#5 – Fritha Mason, Secret Projects
“Working towards complete gender equality world-wide is my passion and it’s why I started my ethical business, Secret Projects, to empower women. Women don’t want hand-outs – but rather to have opportunities to earn a fair wage to support themselves and their families.
Our challenges have been many since I set up Secret Projects, from operating in India to being a retailer in a changing and challenging retail environment. However, if there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that resilience can help overcome any challenge. Although some challenges do take longer to overcome than others! One of the challenges we face is trying to reach and engage with more and more marginalised women in India. I have recently transformed Secret Projects into a Community Benefit Society and the capital investment we now have from our share offer will mean that we can begin to plan our strategy as to how we can empower even more women through the making and selling of clothing and homeware.
Being a member of WFTO is fantastic for Secret Projects. Working with an organisation whose aims and goals so closely align to our own and believe, as we do, in fair conditions, income and opportunities for people is a dream come true!”
Photo credits: Secret Projects CEO, Fritha Mason with a Secret Sari Dress, produced by a Secret Projects Maker Group in West Bengal, India. Photographed by Sebastian Xander.
#6 – Lisa Niklas, Forum Fairer Handel
“Many people in Germany think that Fair Trade ‘just’ means more money for farmers, but hardly anyone knows that a big goal of the Fair Trade movement is the empowerment of women all over the world – it’s a holistic approach to all kinds of social injustices, including gender inequality. As a fair trade organization, it’s our task to work against these inequalities, to make all these great and inspirational women who work in Fair Trade more visible and to show consumers that fair trade is about more than economical support for farmers. That’s why the theme of last year‘s „Faire Woche“, the german Fair Trade fortnight, had the theme „gender equality“. Local fair trade groups, schools, world shops etc organized more than 2000 events all over Germany, many of them related to this topic. Also, female fair trade producers from Ruanda, Honduras, Ghana and Mexico came to these events to talk about female empowerment in their businesses.
If I had one wish for the future of women I would hope that women’s roles in business would be more visible all over the world.“