Women in Fair Trade

It was International Women’s Day at the beginning of this week, and it will be Mother’s Day at the end of the week. Which has got us thinking about women and what fair trade does to champion them worldwide. The truth is that around the world, women are not treated equitably. This looks different from country to country and region to region, but the root problem is the same. Though women make up the majority of people producing food, they rarely receive their share of the benefits of their hard labour. 

“The truth is that the majority of the world’s poorest people are women. Globally, there are 700 million fewer women in paid work than men. Women that are earning are more likely to be in low-paid, insecure employment, and all too often, they are barred from controlling the income they do earn. It’s women, too, who disproportionately bear the burden of unpaid care work, and who face discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis.”

Traidcraft Exchange

However, when women are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to get involved in trade, they have the power to shape a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The worldwide fair trade movement has developed a gender strategy that recognises that women’s empowerment and gender equality need to be promoted at all levels. There is special emphasis placed on training and development that empowers the women working in fair trade organisations.

This strategy includes:

  • Setting standards that don’t discriminate
  • Training women to lead
  • Fairtrade Premium funds (an extra amount of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers and workers invest in projects of their choice) going towards locally driven women’s initiatives.
  • Challenging historic gender-based patterns
  • Breaking down stereotypes of “women’s work”
  • Developing interventions to dismantle inequality

Women have historically had less access to productive resources – so reinforcing patterns of female disempowerment. Fairtrade is helping to challenge this recurrent gender gap, enabling women to stake their claim and succeed on their own terms.

Watch this inspiring clip about Rosine Bekoin – who is a mother of five, cocoa farmer and member of CAYAT co-operative in Côte d’Ivoire. Rosine is slightly unusual as cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire go – because she owns and runs her 2.5-hectare farm, which was passed to her from her mother. Normally it is men who own farms and earn the income from them. Rosine first sold her cocoa as Fairtrade in 2016.