International Women's Day

International Women's Day

"Women are like teabags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Since the beginning of time, men have been the hunter/gatherers while women have traditionally stayed home to raise the family, but as time progressed, women wanted more. Why couldn't they vote? Why weren't they accepted in the literary world? Why were they seen as the weaker sex? Why couldn't they hold responsible roles in the workplace? Why couldn't they protect their country in troubled times? Through history we have seen the likes of Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc and Florence Nightingale redefining women's roles.

Thanks to Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes, we can now vote. Thanks to Jane Austin we can now publish our writing. Thanks to Ruth Bader, we have been able to make huge progress with gender equality and women's rights. The list of women ready to fight for equality in a male dominated world goes ever on. Equality in the world of work is still very much ongoing today with equal pay.


Photograph of Ruth Bader, Pioneer for women's rights and gender equality

Further afield we have a younger generation still fighting for equality with Mala Yousafzai campaigning for educational rights against the Taliban, and Greta Thunberg campaigning for climate change.

 See related image detail. How is Boris Johnson behind Greta Thunberg's 'bunny hugger' Twitter bio ...

 Greta Thunberg

How Fairtrade is empowering women?

The Fairtrade Standards set the basic rules of our trading system, and are designed to empower farmers and workers in developing countries. They cover a range of issues, from labour conditions and product-specific norms to environmental protection. They also contain provisions specifically designed to prevent gender inequality and rules against Fairtrade certified organisations engaging in behaviour that is sexually intimidating, abusive or exploitative. 

Their Standards also require democratic decision-making processes that support women in having a say in the governance of their communities and workplaces. 

Fairtrade’s Gender Strategy recognises that women’s empowerment and gender equality need to be promoted at all levels. They place special emphasis on training and development that empowers the women working in Fairtrade organisations. 

In the Women’s School of Leadership in Côte d’Ivoire, a country where cocoa is big business and women make up some 68 percent of the labour force, training in business skills can be a powerful tool for women, providing practical training in skills such as finance, negotiation and decision-making. The school also trains men, helping them promote the value of gender equality in their communities.

Studies have shown that while the role of women in agriculture has increased over time, women have historically had less access to productive resources so reinforcing patterns of female disempowerment. Fairtrade is helping to challenge this recurrent gender gap, enabling women to stake their claim and succeed on their own terms. 

In 2014, 470 women overcame historic land ownership constraints to establish Indonesia’s first all-women coffee cooperative, and a Fairtrade project in Kenya encouraged the transfer of coffee bush ownership to women, who for the first time garnered their own independent income from coffee after years of contributing up to 70 percent of the labour needed to grow and harvest it.

Fairtrade works in partnership with producer organisations, trade unions, commercial partners, other NGOs and activists to continue pushing for workers’ rights. Fairtrade is 50 percent owned by producers which brings first hand experience and perspectives into the discussion.

Through her participation in the Gender Task Force of the World Banana Forum, Fairtrade’s Global Product Manager for Bananas, Silvia Campos is helping to identify best practice and interventions that can enhance women’s well-being and empowerment in the sector. With the NGO Bananalink, she recently published a globe-scanning summary of these interventions, which range from basic training on how to combat sexual harassment and promote gender equality, to improving working conditions for expectant and nursing mothers.

Of course, these are examples of incremental improvement, and there is much more work to do to bring about true gender equality. Each time you enjoy a Fairtrade product, you are enabling Fairtrade and its partners to continue pressing for progress.

All Fairtrade information is from 


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