Almost half the world – over three billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day, according to World Bank Development Indicators (2008). That’s a sobering stastic, to be sure, but how does that affect me as a mother in the United States? My two toddlers are taken care of, clothed, fed, and attend school every day.
I can bridge the gap. Most of the people living on less than $2.50 a day are women, often mothers, who are unable to care for their children. But through fair trade, those same women are able to use their skills to make products that you and I buy either daily or regularly. Some are farmers who grow coffee beans for our morning coffee. Others make jewelry that we buy as gifts for our girlfriends and mothers. Or they weave baskets from their homes using raw material from the land while they are caring for their children at home. Fair trade ensures that the wage these women make are fair wages; that the work conditions are safe and not exploitative or unsafe. And there is no child or sweatshop labor.
Rather than blindly buying your next gift from a mass merchant and not knowing where it was produced, ask. Search for a fair trade label. Make sure that what you’re buying isn’t indirectly (or even directly) supporting child labor.
Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting South Africa to work directly with artisans. One of the artisans is shown here making copper and brass jewelry for World Shoppe as a result of my visit. The artisans are paid a fair wage and are able to contribute to the economic development of their families and communities. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that our working together not only provides us with beautiful handmade items, but provides respect and dignity to artisans all over the world.
Individually and together we can all make a difference in the lives of mothers everywhere. Let’s start by demanding more fair trade products.
In the coming weeks I’ll be traveling to Pakistan to work directly with women artisans on product development and getting them export ready. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and welcome your comments and thoughts as I trek on this journey!
-Megy Karydes, Founder & Owner