International Women's Day Love | Kenana Knitters

International Women's Day Love | Kenana Knitters

Posted by Rebecca S on

This year International Women's Day is on Friday 8th March (which also happens to be the birthday of 'Fair Trader Boss Lady', Bron - Happy Birthday Bron!)

The United Nations theme for 2024 is Count Her In: Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress.

In relation to this theme, the UN has identified 5 key areas that require global action:

  • Investing in women as a human rights issue
  • working to address poverty
  • Implementing gender-responsive financing. (Learn more about this here)
  • Shifting to a green economy
  • Supporting feminist change-makers

At The Fair Trader, investing in women and girls and working to alleviate poverty are two big goals as a Fair Trade business. These two goals are intrinsically connected. One of the most effective ways to end the entrenched poverty is to empower women and girls through education and employment opportunities.

How Fair Trade Promotes Women's Economic Empowerment

International Women's Day 2024 | Fair Trade

One of the 10 Principles of Fair Trade is Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women's Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association.

This Principle requires that an accredited organisation does not discriminate in the hiring, payment of a living wage, career development or promotion opportunities, dismissal or retirement based on a person's gender, or other identities including race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. This Principle not only advances equal economic opportunities for women but also safeguards against discrimination faced by the most marginalised people, who are without power or influence. 

This Principle also ensures that women who work at Fair Trade organisations:

  • Can acquire the necessary resources to do their job
  • Have a say when it comes to the the broader policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks that influence their livelihoods and lives
  • Have genuine opportunities to enter leadership and management positions
  • Have their entire employment rights and benefits recognised
  • Receive equal pay for equal work
  • Have their special medical and safety needs taken into account if they are pregnant or breast-feeding

The World Bank believes that putting resources into women's hands, while promoting gender equality in the household, and in society, results in large development gains.

Investing in Kenyan Women and Girls

One of the Fair Trade organisations The Fair Trader works with is Kenana Knitters.

Kenana Knitters was founded in 1998 to give income to the rural women of Njoro, Kenya through their spinning and knitting skills.

Kenya is the worlds third fastest growing economy, however in rural areas work is still underpaid and hard to find. Women are paid less than men even for the same work. There is no water or electricity to most homes and this makes the women's household work more demanding. As well, ante-natal care is generally poor. Kenya is amongst the 10 nations that have the highest neo natal deaths annually. (Global Health Action - 2017)

Over the last 20 years, the Kenana Knitters have worked with many local ladies who were lacking a market for their homespun wool. With the aim to further impact the community, Kenana taught women in the area to knit beautiful, organic cotton products using local, sustainable resources. By providing a safe, family-friendly working environment, the organisation empowers women, offering them a chance to take charge of their lives, with pride and dignity.  The organisation sells their collections of hand crafted products locally and to countries around the world.

Kenana Knitters artisan - Purity

Pictured: Kenana Knitters artisan, Purity Wachuka

Kenana Knitters first priority is to support women within their local community and enable them to earn an income for themselves, to give them the self respect of being able to support themselves, and improve the quality of their lives by providing them with enough income for themselves and their extended families. 

The Kenana Team is made up of spinners and knitters and the amazing women who use organic locally available products to dye of the wool for each Kenana toy.

Kenana Knitters cow

There are 200 Spinners who earn an income for their wool through Kenana.  The spinners use spinning wheels made from recycled bike tyres to spin the wool. 

The 300 or so knitters are supplied with wool through Kenana for each toy they create. Knitting requires minimal equipment and can be done around the household responsibilities of the women. Each woman signs the Kenana tag on completion of her work. 

Kenana also provides HIV medication, and Family Planning information. It also provides a monthly health clinic for the women, free eye checks and glasses when needed, a savings plan, literacy and numeracy support. The women who live without electricity can also recharge phones and torches during their work time at Kenana Farm. 

At The Fair Trader the women of Kenana inspire us with their resilience and strength, and of course we love the toys they create!

Shop Kenana Knitters toys here.

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