October is dedicated to raising awareness of two afflictions primarily affecting women: breast cancer and domestic violence.
But raising awareness of an even larger issue affecting women also takes place this month. October is Fair Trade Month.
What’s the connection between women and fair trade? It’s the fact that women are the majority of the more than 1 billion people in the world living on less than $1 a day.
The goal of fair trade is to alleviate poverty by creating economic opportunities for marginalized people in developing nations. Its impact on poor women comes primarily from the handicraft industry, such as jewelry and other fashion accessories.
The economic power of the fair wages these women receive allows them to play a more significant role in their lives and in society. They can leave abusive situations without fear of financial deprivation. Their income is a life-saving alternative to the false promises of riches by traffickers trying to enslave them.
There are social advantages as well. Part of the profits from their products pays for health care, skills training, and schools. The women work in safe and healthy conditions, frequently at home so they can care for their families. They develop a strong sense of self-worth.
“My life before fair trade was not a life. If we could get one meal a day, it was a miracle. We were living in a box. But now I have a small home. My children can go to school. I’m very proud of myself now. I will never be poor again.”
So as we continue to support the movements to eradicate breast cancer and domestic violence, let’s not forget the movement working to lift millions of women out of poverty.