The pandemic has shown that the fair trade movement is critical during these times, and we have risen to the occasion over the past six months. There is an imbalance of power in “big business,” prioritizing profit over people. Fair trade is the opposite: a light in the darkness for farmers, artisans, and their communities.
Think about yourself: income affects what you do, where and how you shop, how you navigate each day, your health, and how you support the people in your life. How does income affect coffee farmers in Colombia or dressmakers in Ghana?
There are serious inequities in our world. According to Fair Trade America:
- 152 million children around the world work in child labor. 70% of these children work in agriculture.
- 60-80% of the world’s food is grown by women, yet they do not receive fair payment for it. They cannot control the money they earn, they are prohibited from owning the land or crops or applying for credit, and may not have access to education and training.
- Some farmers only live on $2 a day, according to the World Bank.
Over the last few months, fair trade groups and producer organizations have continued to take action during the pandemic. Here are some of these commitments:
- Fair Trade USA has provided immediate access to Fair Trade Community Development Funds. Communities can vote to quickly distribute their funds as cash bonuses to workers or cooperative members to help them through the pandemic. These funds also provide communities with lower-cost groceries, medical care, and more.
- The World Fair Trade Organization has reported that their members are protecting the livelihoods of people as much as possible. 91% provided suppliers with additional flexibility; 71% retained all staff; and 86% kept all orders.
- Fairtrade International has enacted Producer Relief Funds. Producer organizations are able to invest in the safety and livelihoods of producers and their families, like temporary payment of wages for suspended workers, or emergency healthcare, which reduces the risk of children having to work to support their families.
- Our fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation have set up initiatives to support their partners and set them up for future success, from setting up hand washing stations in Ghana to donating coffee. You can help!
One of the more obvious “pivoting” moments is fair trade masks. Of course, artisans have been making masks for us to sell to you, but they have also been able to provide them to their local communities. Our friends at Global Mamas in Ghana are part of a mask-making project supported by the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program. Their goal is to produce and distribute 20,000 protective cloth masks to help prevent the spread of COVID to under-resourced healthcare facilities, prisons, and to high-risk individuals and to those who care for them.
We are proud to be part of a global movement for a sustainable future, and thank you for being part of the journey with us! Although we are still grappling with COVID-19, we are excited to see what the next six months will bring.
This video from the Fair World Project shows how fair trade business is vital during the pandemic.