During Fairtrade Fortnight I had the fantastic opportunity to meet Fairtrade producers from three different countries; India, Uganda and Palestine. To really meet a person from the other side of the supply chain felt exciting and I got insight in to how Fairtrade has improved their lives and their communities. Although these producers live in different parts of the world, in countries very unlike each other, they all talked about the same thing when they explained how Fairtrade benefits them: the importance of the long-term trading partnership Fairtrade is offering.
I was really touched by that, because it actually is that simple. A long-term trading partnership means that the producer knows that he or she will have access to the world market and in turn receive a current, and fair, income. Consequently the producers can be independent, plan for their future and get out of poverty. It doesn’t matter if the producer lives in India, Uganda or Palestine, or any other country; it is a fact that Fairtrade has a strong impact on the lives of thousands of farmers and workers and their families.
One aspect of Fairtrade I’ve always find significant is how Fairtrade empowers women. Jenipher Wettaka, a coffee producer from Uganda, really put into words how important fair terms of trade are for her and for other women in developing countries. She verified my thoughts and I feel that Fairtrade is definitely a vital tool to strengthen women’s rights.
Fairtrade is supporting women and promoting equality between the genders in many ways. For example, it is important to include women in all decision making processes and women are often members of the board of directors within different cooperatives. Premium money has in many cases been used to educate women and also for schooling girls. Furthermore, with their own income women are not dependent on their husbands or other men for their maintenance. They have the opportunity to control their own lives and to re-invest in their families and communities. As Jenipher Wettaka said: “Now women are empowered, now we are changing the world”.