Fair trade is the idea that when we engage in free trade we think about the people behind the products we're buying. In the same way that organic food has gotten us to think about what is in our food, fair trade asks us to think about who makes our products. In the global supply chain, it's usually the laborers physically making the products that are paid the least. With fair trade, we make sure the producer receives a fair percentage of the total. In the end, fair trade will only work if we as consumers, choose to purchase products made in an ethical way. We have tremendous power as consumers to shape the way the world does business. Fair trade ensures that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and that is a great investment. A Little History on a Big Idea
The fair trade movement originated in Europe over 40 years ago. The fair trade mission is to create sustainable incomes for poor and disadvantaged producers by:
* providing a living wage, * maintaining stable, long-term trade agreements, and * improving working conditions through education, campaigning, and creating access to outside markets.
Today, the majority of low-income producers are workers in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, free trade agreements such as NAFTA, APEC, and WTO do not protect workers and the environment. In India, for example, millions of people have been employed as garment workers for far-below minimum wage. This practice is tolerated because the market for workers' traditional crafts has been all but eliminated, and their options for creating income grow increasingly limited.
Fair trade values are making their way to the U.S. as consumers become increasingly concerned about the origin of their products. In 2000, fair trade sales in North America totaled $100 million. Today, fair trade annual sales have grown to $350 million. While gaining momentum and awareness, the demand for fair trade is still less than 1% of the total $55 billion giftware industry. Every time we choose fair trade, we choose to empower rather than exploit. Why Women?
We believe passionately that economic opportunity for women holds the promise for real change in the world, because when women have an income, they reinvest in themselves and in their children's health, education, and nutrition, building stronger families and communities over time. Many women try desperately to make a living selling their artisan-quality goods, but find that they have little access to market opportunities. Through fair-trade practices, Global Girlfriend and TheZenLily.Com bring the work of these disadvantaged groups to you.
Today, across the world 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day, and 3 billion live on under two dollars a day. 1.3 billion people have no access to clean water; 3 billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no access to electricity. Sadly, women are the poorest of the world's poor, representing 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty: that's nearly 900 million women living on less than one dollar a day.
We know that women are the backbone of the global economy. Women currently do two-thirds of the world's work, and yet they earn less than five percent of the world's income and are largely denied access to training and credit from lenders. The major economic roles of low-income women are often undervalued and ignored. For too many women these statistics mean a life of grinding poverty and few opportunities. A woman's economic position directly affects her ability to purchase needed improvements in health, housing and education; her bargaining position and power in the family and community; and her ability to act against violence in her home and in her world. Expanding economic opportunities for women further decreases women's vulnerability to human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and violence.
By opening fair-trade market opportunities, providing design assistance, and helping build micro-enterprise for women, we can change lives one global girlfriend at a time!
- Retrieved from GlobalGirlFriend.Com.