Fairtrade Celebrates International Women’s Day

Fairtrade women farmers in Ghana

Iris Munguia, tireless campaigner for female workers' rights

Esther Guluma, Chair of the Fairtrade International Board

08 March 2012

On International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the women around the world that make Fairtrade great. As producers, consumers, advocates and staff, women are the backbone of Fairtrade movement.

Countless women have inspired us over the past year. Read about a few of them below and check out our slideshow on Women and Fairtrade over at Slideshare!

Congolese coffee farmers

At the SOPACDI cooperative on the shores of Lake Kivu, high quality coffee is produced by 600 rural women producers, which make up more than 20 percent of the co-op’s 3200 members. Women were severely affected in the conflict in eastern DRC, and many of the women farmers are widows. Since 2011, a women’s premium is being paid on all purchases of SOPACDI coffee, estimated to bring in USD 8000 in the first year. Plans for the premium including building a common shelter, coffee field maintenance and paying medical and schools fees.


Iris Munguia

A union leader from Honduras, Iris Munguia has won a prestigious award for her struggle to support banana plantation workers. A former banana worker herself, Iris will receive a Silver Rose prize from SOLIDAR, a network of non-governmental organizations that promote social justice worldwide. She has worked tirelessly to campaign for worker’s rights, particularly for women, who are often victims of sexual harassment and discrimination in the banana labour industry. Iris is also the first female coordinator of COLSIBA, the Coordinating Body of Latin American Banana and Agro-industrial Workers. This is a major breakthrough which no women banana workers would have dreamed possible in previous decades.


Dr Esther Guluma

In November 2011, Fairtrade International welcomed Dr. Esther Guluma as Chair of the Board of Directors. Prior to her retirement, Esther was the Regional Director for UNICEF in West and Central Africa and more recently, served the last two years as an independent board member for Fairtrade International. With over 30 years’ involvement in the aid and development sector in Asia and Africa, Esther brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience.


What we are doing now to support women in Fairtrade

Women make up 42 percent of workers in Fairtrade hired labour organizations and 24 percent of small farmers. On Fairtrade tea plantations, women make up almost half the workforce. (Read more in our 2011 Monitoring Report).

Fairtrade International is in the process of developing a strategy on gender. So far a consultation process has taken place in Latin America and Africa. This strategy will be producer led and owned, impact driven and context sensitive.

As part of this process, Fairtrade International led a workshop on gender and Fairtrade at the 64th annual United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) Conference. The panel featured three speakers from SOPCADI and Fairtrade International, and the audience was standing room only.


Which woman in the Fair Trade movement inspires you? Why not tell her today?!

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