Fair Trade addresses the inequities present in our current global trade system, and supports positive social change in the world.
The underpinning guidelines of Fair Trade are the Ten Fair Trade Principles, developed by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). In this blog, I will be exploring the first of these principles; Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers.
Marginalised producers come in many forms, for example: a family business, a group who share particular experiences of disadvantage, an artisan’s collective or a farmer’s cooperative. These Fair Trade ventures have the key aims of creating economic self-sufficiency, security and ownership for those involved. To achieve these aims, it is necessary for a Fair Trade venture to have a reasonable plan of action.
How then, does the First Fair Trade Principle play out in a ‘real life’? To gain a picture of the principle in action, let us explore a story from ‘The Dharma Door’, one of the Fair Trade Association’s endorsed Fair Traders of Australia.
One of the producer groups that The Dharma Door partners with supports marginalised women in Bangladesh to earn a fair and sustainable livelihood through the development of craft and entrepreneurial skills, leading to production and sales of Jute and Cotton products.
The ongoing success of the program in enabling self-sufficiency, security and ownership for the producers is enhanced by a couple of processes. One is a social empowerment program, which addresses topics such as gender and Human Rights, leadership training, and education. The other is a savings and loan scheme through which women can save and access micro-credit loans, to start their own small business, improve their living circumstances or send their children to school.
The Dharma Door has continued to build a partnership with this inspiring group since 2008. It is clear the program has a realistic and savvy plan of action, given the ongoing success of those involved to earn a fair and sustainable income, and become empowered through skills training, social awareness raising and personal development.
This is but one of many encouraging stories that provide a clear picture of how the First Fair Trade Principle ‘creates opportunities for economically marginalised producers’. To learn more about the Fair Trade Principles, stay tuned for our next Blog, which will unpack the Second Principle: Transparency and Accountability.
By Kitty Weier, Australian Networks and Services Officer, Fair Trade Association.