International Women's Day 2023 - Fair Trade Embraces Equity

International Women's Day 2023 - Fair Trade Embraces Equity

Posted by Rebecca S on

Today the world is celebrating International Women's Day. The theme for International Women's Day this year is 'Embracing Equity'.

International Women's Day 2023 | The Fair TraderPictured: Bron, The Fair Trader Co-Founder

But what does equity actually mean?

Equity vs Equality

People often think equity is the same as equality. This is because both terms are associated with promoting fairness. However treating everyone equally isn't always fair. When we aim for equality, we fail to take into account individual differences including social, economic and cultural background, gender and health. These differences result in some people having an advantage over others.

Equity leads us to consider what is truly fair. It moves us to ask what we can do to create an even playing field.

"Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits."

- Naheed Dosani

How Fair Trade Promotes Equity

So how does Fair Trade help create equity for women and other disadvantaged groups?

1. Creates Opportunities for Disadvantaged Women

Fair Trade organisations focus on providing economic opportunities for severely disadvantaged people with the goal to reduce poverty.

By prioritising working with the most marginalised groups in society such as women in rural areas, Fair Trade enables women to lift themselves out of poverty with a view towards creating more equal outcomes.

Pictured: Bev, The Fair Trader Team

2. Improves Access to Healthcare and Basic Necessities

Fair Trade helps to break down the economic and social barriers that women in 'developing' countries face, giving them genuine opportunities to participate in society and improve their circumstances.

Receiving a sustainable income has a huge flow on effect for producers' families and communities, resulting in improved health outcomes.

In addition to their wages, producer groups receive a Fairtrade Premium which is a sum of money that is an investment into the producers' community. These funds are allocated by representatives (who are producers themselves), who are elected via a democratic vote. The funds can be used to improve things like healthcare, and water and sanitation facilities.

Some Fair Trade organisations such as Kenana Knitters and Eden Jewellery also have on-site health clinics for employees that have a focus on women's health.

Pictured: Jill, The Fair Trader Team

3. Gender Equity as a Principle

One of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) 10 Principles of Fair Trade is 'Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association'.

This Principle requires Fair Trade organisations to have policies in place to ensure that women can acquire access to the resources they need to do their job. Further, it ensures women have "the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives". This principle also helps remove barriers to women acquiring leadership positions within Fair Trade cooperatives.

Pictured: Bec S, The Fair Trader Team 

4. Improves Education for Girls

Women are more likely to spend money on things that support their children, therefore when women earn an income of their own, the whole family benefits. 

With a reliable wage, women can pay for their children's school fees. Educating girls gives them a huge leg-up in almost every aspect of life. Girls who are educated are more likely to end up getting a job and earning a better income than girls who aren't.

International Women's Day 2023Pictured: Bec K, The Fair Trader Team

5. Helps Prevent Child Marriage

Ending child marriage is an integral part of working towards equity for women in the Global South.

Every year approximately 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 globally.

Child brides are much more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be a child mother and much more likely to die in childbirth. Trauma in childbirth is the biggest cause of death in teenage girls the developing world.

"One of the best ways to end child marriage is to keep girls in school."

- The World Bank

The longer a girl stays in school, the more likely she is to delay marriage and childbirth. By decreasing poverty and improving education opportunities, Fair Trade partnerships ultimately help prevent child marriage, resulting in more equal opportunities for girls and women.

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Want to read more from The Fair Trader about International Women's Day?

Read Bron's blog 'Women’s freedom is neither Eastern nor Western, but universal!' here.

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