Empowering Women Through Fair Trade

Women are paid 30-40% less than men for comparable work.

Can Fair Trade improve the status of women?

By its very definition, fair trade practices “contribute to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to and securing the rights of marginalized workers” – 70% of these workers are women. Therefore, as the fair trade movement gains momentum, the status of women will improve and this current gender wage gap will dissipate.

The issue of gender inequality is one that first-world and developing nations face alike.  The gap between men and women in education, economy, and political empowerment is closing but at a rate that is far too slow. The Fair Trade movement is in motion in many countries, and the momentum generated by this catalyst is helping to rectify the gender wage gap disparity.

Our artisan partner in Nepal, Friends Handicrafts, provides employment for Nepali women and sustains the ancient technique of felting. They use this method to create unique and vibrantly colored necklaces, bags, scarves, and children’s gifts. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Friends Handicraft’s mission is to combat urban poverty. It supports skills-training and income-generation programs for 80 female heads-of-households living in and around the capital and provides access to education for their children, fostering a sense of independence in an otherwise marginalized population.

These women are able to use their creativity and build upon traditional techniques to earn a living. The ability to contribute economically increases self-esteem and helps these women find their voice in both the household and the community. Also, most of the leadership positions in international fair trade co-ops are help by women. Seeing women in these positions will help dislodge social norms that have previously held women back from positions of power in the community. Co-ops like Friends Handicrafts that employ fair trade practices pave the way for more participation by women in economic, social and political affairs and ultimately increase of status of women globally. Global Goods Partners is proud to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation – an organization whose core values aim to empower women.

*Fair Trade definition from the World Fair Trade Organization

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