The holiday season is marked by a spirit of generosity, with Australians having spent an estimated $18 billion in the week leading up to Christmas last year. Through ethical purchasing, this spirit can extend past simply giving to family members and friends to include a deep consideration of the sources of the products we give to one another. This ‘season of giving’ is an ideal opportunity to show our commitment to supporting Fair Trade. Purchasing Fair Trade products is one of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to ensure producers in developing nations are also benefitting from the goods produced for the holiday season and beyond.
Besides ensuring that producers are awarded fair wages and work under decent conditions, Fair Trade supports freedom of association and the promotion of gender equality.
Ensuring that the production process promotes gender equality is not only critical for workers themselves, but also for their wider communities. On average, women in developing nations reinvest 90% of their incomes back into their households and communities, compared to only 30% for men. Fair Trade gives many women newfound opportunities to earn an income, which may then be reinvested into improving health and educational outcomes in impoverished communities. The impact of Fair Trade for workers in developing nations cannot be understated.
Endorsed Fair Trader of Australia Ethica Accessories is a shining example of a Fair Trade business committed to the promotion of gender equality. Ethica works with Peruvian women and the Sisters of Saint Joseph to create and sell a wonderful range of home wares, bags, purses, accessories, alpaca ponchos, jumpers, scarves, beanies, socks, gloves, Christmas decorations and cards. Ethica provides women with skills training in knitting, sewing and crocheting; and job training in business, computers and technology. Ethica targets women in marginalised areas of Peru, many of whom would not have many opportunities to earn an income, and a central aim of the business is to provide women with dignity and confidence.
The money women earn by working with Ethica Accessories goes towards food, medicine and books; which benefits the women’s families and communities. Ethica has also provided women with a space through which to connect and network with others. As a result, a bank was created in the Peruvian mountains, which provides women with loans primarily for health expenses. Additionally, women connected with Ethica have rented a one-storey space to expand their work efforts. Ethica is clearly an excellent example of how women are empowered through Fair Trade.
This holiday season, consider the impact that your purchases can have on less wealthy producers in developing nations. Choosing to purchase Fair Trade goods can make a real difference for women and their communities. What better gift than to vote with your dollars to promote freedom of association and gender equality in developing nations?