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The Importance of Fair Trade

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Fair trade is of special importance to women Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Thinkstock

Fair trade. This label has been appearing on foods, coffee, and retail products for quite some time now. But what does it mean?

As said by Fairtradeusa.com, when something is fair trade, it means that the farmers or people who grow/create a product are fairly compensated.

“We help farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses that positively influence their communities…we teach disadvantaged communities how to use the free market to their advantage.”

Through fair trade practices, struggling communities are given fair wages and means to improve their living situation.

Women in particular are part of the fair trade movement, because females are still being discriminated against.

Many organizations have been created to aid poverty-stricken countries and people, and in order for a business to purchase from a fair trade worker, they have to abide by strict rules.

The Fair Trade Federation, which is a non-profit organization that deals with fair trade in North America, has something they call the nine fair trade principles.

The nine principles are:

- Create opportunities for marginalized producers

- Develop transparent relationships

- Build capacity

- Promote fair trade

Pay promptly and fairly

- Support empowering working conditions

- Ensure children’s rights

- Cultivate environmental stewardship

- Respect cultural identity.

The Fair Trade Federation features businesses that have excelled in fair trade practices. Through food, clothing, and other businesses, these are companies that have taken people out of dangerous situations.

One of the businesses on the site that really made me think was 108 Mala. On the 108 Mala website, the importance of fair trade is truly showcased through the company’s history.

“The founder Aalap Shah was in India working with an HIV non-profit organization. It was there that he met impoverished women in sex work who had to face the difficult choice of asking their clients to use a condom or earn more money as unprotected sex garners higher income. Aalap explains, ‘I started asking myself: who has the right to choice? Why did it seem that people with more money have more access to rights?’ At 108 Mala, we believe the key to helping the 4 billion people, who live on less that $2 a day, get out of poverty is by helping them to become entrepreneurs and producers. Aalap realized that if a woman could gain regular and gainful employment, she would never have to choose between her health and her income or her child’s education and putting food on the table.”

Some people refuse to buy fair trade products because they do not carry designer names, but is that truly more important than saving a woman’s life or impacting her community?

No, it won’t have a “made in Italy” label, but it will be unique and could empower a woman to feel strong enough to create change in her environment.


"Fair Trade Principles: Welcome to the Fair Trade Federation Gallery!" Fair Trade Principles: Welcome to the Fair Trade Federation Gallery! Fair Trade Federation, 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2012.

"Fair Trade USA | Every Purchase Matters." Fair Trade USA | Every Purchase Matters. Fair Trade USA, 2010. Web. 10 Aug. 2012.

Shah, Aalap. "108 Mala." About Us. 108 Mala, n.d. Web. 10 Aug. 2012.

Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments

Fair Trade is hugely important. It is a worthy alternative to the rampant capitalism that we see around the world. It actually is a good and human business model! It treats people as people, paying the workers with decent living wages, empowers women and allows children to be children.
Fair trade is making huge strides nowadays. Hopefully, one day, fair trade will become the norm for business.
Just in 2012, tens of millions of consumers in over 120 countries spent around $6.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 12% over 2010 according Fair Trade International.
It's great for the movement! Our shop retails many fair trade items and the quality of the craftsmanship could not be better.
in conclusion, you have good products at good prices and they treat workers fairly? Really, the best of both worlds IS possible.

September 18, 2012 - 2:18pm
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