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Natalia Popielska

Fast Fashion’s Dirty Secrets

I started People Tree nearly 30 years ago and whilst we make great clothes, foods, and crafts, which are high on social impact and low on environmental impact, it has never been enough. 

Culemborg, The Netherlands, 8 March 2019 - Today, the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) releases new studies that shows the majority of Fair Trade Enterprises are led by women. According to the study, the network of more than 300 social enterprises in over 70 countries (i.e. WFTO members) have women as the majority among CEOs, board members and senior managers. This is in stark contrast to the mainstream business world.

Carol Wills,
Honorary Member 

Women’s leadership in Fair Trade Enterprises

Over half of Arabs in Israel live in poverty. Within this population, there are 200,000 women of working age who have no post-school qualifications. Sindyanna refuses to regard them as a lost generation. Instead, the social enterprise seeks to empower these women and help them acquire skills appropriate for the modern Israeli labour market. These skills include basket weaving, independent small business management and the Hebrew language, which is a condition for seeking work. 

With growing concerns about non-inclusive workplaces and public spaces, global reports outlining rising inequality and #metoo, the World Fair Trade Organization’s (WFTO) studies on gender equality and empowerment comes as a breath of fresh air.

Right from the beginning our approach was to build some strong connections with the communities, a bridge leading eventually to trust each other; then we trained the women in order to make sure they would have the skills to take full responsibility for managing their business; and of course, a strong focus on quality!

As a woman importer I appreciate the commitment to ‘upskill’ that the weavers are undertaking to produce the difficult weave, which uses 6 batons rather than the usual 2/3, ensuring the weaver is paid more for their skill - which can take months to perfect.

It is essential this information is passed onto the consumer,  as a women led supply chain is generally more empathetic to the way a product is produced and less likely to drive down the price – hence there needs to be a ‘safeguard’ in place when taking the product to the wider market.

In recent decades, we have seen a decline in international cooperation and solidarity. When we talk about cooperation, we think of donations but not of other ways to cooperate. Small farmers and artisans are appealing “no aid, trade” and calling for more active participation in markets. When producers are able to secure more sales, they are able to support their families, pay their debts, cover their basic needs, save for their future and invest in their health and wellbeing. This means improving life conditions – from just existing to living.

PRESS RELEASE

FRANKFURT, GERMANY - 9 February - New plans are unveiled today by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) to expand adoption of upcycling and other circular economy production models by Fair Trade Enterprises. The initiative spans fashion, homewares and accessories and will reach over 50 countries. This is the first global initiative of its kind to work across such a breadth of product categories and countries.

 

At its heart, Fair Trade is about people. It shapes trade in order to benefit cocoa and coffee farmers. It transforms business to empower garment workers and artisans.Around the world, it has forged a movement that is about putting producers first. But it turns out that working for people also means working for our planet. When we look across our global community of Fair Trade Enterprises, we see a surge in upcycling waste, organic agriculture, investments in renewable energy and efforts to eliminate water pollution. The heart of Fair Trade is both people and planet. 

Highlights of the summit:

• 300+ Fair Trade leaders and buyers from across the world
• Meet with dozens of importers and retailers (incl. beyond the WFTO community)
• Programme focused on innovation in marketing, design and market access
• Latest market insights and trends
• House of Nations, exhibiting the best of Fair Trade from individual countries

WFTO community has many stars and many have shined brightly on social media in 2018. Here are the top performing posts from the WFTO in 2018:

  1.  Top post overall - the charter launches
     Top post (Facebook and Twitter) and most watched event video - International Fair Trade Charter
     
  2.  Top video about a member - the designer and the Fair Trade Enterprise
     Most watched video about a member - Mahaguthi story

Seventy years ago today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the world. It is a turning point in world history, spawning other treaties, laws and regulations across our planet that protect the rights of every human. The idea of human rights embodies our collective dignity. It gives us hope.