Women have played a key role in Fair Trade from its inception in the 1940s when Mennonite worker Edna Ruth Byler marketed Puerto Rican handcrafts through Pennsylvania churches.
Today, women wholesalers and retailers play a central role in stimulating demand for Fair Trade products in the U.S. On the other end of the trading relationship, women comprised 76% of non-agricultural fair trade production in 2008.*
Fair Trade employment provides disadvantaged women the ability to become financially independent and economically significant in their families. As their position becomes more equalized, they have a greater voice in their own health care and education. Economic power also allows them to leave abusive situations without fear of financial deprivation.
Fair Trade artisans typically create products in their homes while caring for their families. This is a major benefit in many cultures, where women are traditionally homebound and unable to participate in the cash economy.
One of the artisans who make our lovely recycled paper necklaces from Bead for Life tells her story in this video.
*Fair Trade Federation 2009 Market Trend Report