It’s undeniable that gender inequality is still a global issue, more so for developing countries where such problem contributes to the worsening cases of poverty. It’s the opposite of women empowerment, women are left powerless to better their lives because they don’t only lack the opportunity to do so but also left to endure unfair treatment brought upon by the society or culture.
Gender Equality to Empower Women
According to UN Development Programme, when gender inequalities are reduced, more children go to school, families are healthier, agricultural productivity improves and income increases. Safe to say then, that investing in women is the best way to resolve global poverty and promote prosperity. Sustainable communities will only exist if we empower the very women that hold the family together – it’s about women empowerment. Only then we can begin to expect meaningful changes in the community.
Aside from the cultural aspect, some women are not able to break free from poverty because they lack the resources or capital, the education or training to improve their craftsmanship and the market or platform to promote their products or produce. This is livelihood projects such as fair trade cooperatives, informal organizations and Fair Trade companies will play a big role. They provide the women (as well as men) from small villages of developing countries, exactly what they needed to enable them to work they way out of poverty.
Women and Fair Trade
Through Fair Trade, women are given the opportunity to work in a safe environment, enjoy fair treatment and rightfully reap the benefits of their hard work. Fair trade companies are bound to fulfill the Principles of Fair Trade, and principle 6 clearly states that it is committed to ensuring Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association. It says:
“The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
The organization has a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Organizational constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women to become active members of the organization in their own right (where it is a membership based organization), and to take up leadership positions in the governance structure regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property. Where women are employed within the organization, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work. The organization recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organization takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.”
Women empowerment will ultimately mean a better life for the family – where women can provide or support the basic needs of the family such as nutritious food, decent and safe shelter, and health care if needed and in some cases even education.
It’s safe to say that empowering the women means empowering the society as well. Promoting Fair Trade and its principles is a big step towards gender equality and women empowerment.
*Photos courtesy of www.undp.org