This month’s guest blog is written by Ffion Storer, Project Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales. Ffion shares her passion for Fairtrade, international development, and explores the impact one purchase can have on a person’s life.
From my farm to hers was a trip of around 6000 miles. I grew up on a small farm in the hills of Montgomeryshire; Dorothy is a smallholder tea farmer in western Kenya. We met last year when I travelled to East Africa to visit those responsible for producing Fairtrade tea, coffee, gold and flowers.
Life can be tough for women in rural Kenya. The land rights of Kenyan women continue to lag behind those of men; traditions favour male farmers and family resulting in household responsibilities working against them. Despite this, Dorothy had an infectious laugh and an infinite sense of optimism. Through the support of Fairtrade she has been able to buy land for the first time, providing a secure future for herself and her family.
Fairtrade certification offers an opportunity for Dorothy to earn a guaranteed fair price for her tea, but that’s not all. The certification also helps small farmers gain access to international markets and receive training and support on issues such as gender equality and good farming practices. Fairtrade also provides an extra premium, which she (and members of her co-operative) can choose how to invest in order to improve their businesses and communities.
It may feel as though the world’s injustices are impossible to solve; that there is little you feel you can do about them. Perhaps it’s easier to ignore them completely. However, through buying items that carry the Fairtrade certification mark, you can make a difference to people’s lives. People like Dorothy.
As a consumer, you have the power to make real change. The pounds and pennies in your pocket act just like votes for a fairer, more equal world. By paying a fair price to those who produce the things that we rely on, we can break the cycle of poverty that results in practices that are destructive to the environment, children being hungry and girls being prevented from gaining a proper education.
In many countries across the globe, when families are short of money they send boys to school before girls, no matter their age. Around the world, over 62 million girls and young women do not attend school. That’s the equivalent of 20 times the population of Wales not receiving an education at all. When girls have access to education, they can get jobs, save money, have children later, better support their community and even improve their economy.
Fairtrade was started 25 years ago, and in that time it has grown to be a network of over 1.65 million farmers and workers spread across more than 74 countries. The people of Wales have played a big part in this – did you know Wales is the world’s first Fair Trade Nation? Here, the government, schools, businesses, places of worship, towns and universities champion Fairtrade.
We may be a small nation, but we have made mighty efforts that are helping thousands. Don’t ever think that you’re too small to make a difference.