By Eva Marie Wüst Vestergaard
We live in an era of trade, Nithin Coca recently wrote in an article on why there is a need for Fair Trade. He finds that today’s consumer society focuses on “profit, not people”. The Western world’s consumer demand for cheap products is fulfilled at the expense of others.
To keep the prices low, a decrease of production costs are continuously forced on producers. Payments to workers in the production stage are so low it is rarely enough to survive. The result is that people must accept abnormally long work hours just to survive. It is only one out of many ruthless work conditions that people face, caused by this demand. Child labour, forced labour, discrimination and unsafe working environments are part of a reality that workers in developing countries face every day.
As the rich parts of the world consumes more products for cheaper prices, the developing world produces more for cheaper prices. The result is a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
This is a devastating consequence of globalization and the “trade era”. As a reaction to this alarming reality, the Fair Trade Movement faces these consequences and gives consumers alternatives. Instead of trade relations where only one side wins, Fair Trade fulfills demands that do not cause human rights violations and that do not dehumanize people.
A great example of how this approach works has just been showcased in an article by Good News Finland. The article features Finnish Mifuko, a member of WFTO-Europe, which produces handmade baskets in Kenya. The production hires local women who receive a fair payment. For example, there is Lydia who with her job as a Mifuko weaver is able to support herself and educate her children. Or Raphael who due to his polio disease struggled until he studied to become a bag maker. He is able to provide for his family and holds dreams to start up his own business.
That is how Mifuko helps people out of poverty and creates economic development in communities. It is not only about profit, it is first and foremost about people.
“Fair Trade needs to become more than a niche – it needs to grow into the norm, a true alternative to a trade systems that traps far too many in poverty. And all of us – the media, companies, and, yes, the 1 percent, all need to play our role”.
This is what WFTO-Europe works for. Our members can together with responsible companies and consumers that choose to be an agent for change by choosing Fair Trade products, make it happen. Through fair trading partnerships and ethical consumer demands, poverty can be eliminated and the Sustainable Development Goal number 1 can be achieved, creating a fair world for everyone.
Find out more about how you can become an Agent for Change here.