Globally, Fair Trade is a movement for international trade justice. For producers, artisans, weavers, farmers, and craftswomen and men around the world it is an ethical business model which empowers disadvantaged communities with practices that are free from exploitation; is based on respect for universal human rights, women's rights, child rights, migrant rights, rights of the disabled and labour rights; embraces gender equity; and which incorporates environmentally sound practices.
- Race or Ethnicity
|Human Rights Day: |
December 10, 2011
As Fair Trade buyers of handicrafts, textiles and consumable products such as coffee or chocolate, it is nice to believe that we are leading the way in making ethical consumer choices a reality in the global marketplace. However, for producers, artisans, weavers, farmers, and craftswomen and men without a concrete understanding of these principles, rights and practices it is not possible for them to fulfill their role as Catalysts for Social Change in their communities. Simply stated, they are not empowered with an understanding of what Fair Trade is; how it is intended to benefit them and their communities; or the rationale for introducing ethical business practices. For Fair Trade to be ensured throughout the supply chain, producers must be brought into the fold.
I have to admit that before and during the Journey for Fair Trade, I encountered the same obstacles Rodney North listed and generally for the same reasons. However, this is inexcusable.
Look at this from the perspective of utilizing the established Principles:
To empower producers they must have full knowledge of Fair Trade principles, understand their rights, and able to implement ethical business practices. However, for many producer groups there needs to be a well planned, comprehensive training program provided to facilitate this empowerment process.
In rural communities where many of the world's Fair Trade producers reside, I have found that local government officials are influential in establishing a social norm through their actions. For example, in localities where government corruption is a major impediment to national development, the concepts of Transparency and Accountability can be viewed as a threat and needs to be explained clearly and able to convey why this is important in Fair Trade.
For those who prefer reading black on white, here is the downloadable version of this post on pdf: