12 Mar 2021
The Women Who Power the Fairtrade Movement – Meet Our Producers
The 8th of March marks the global observance of International Women’s Day – a worldwide celebration of women’s empowerment and a recurring acknowledgment of the ongoing obstacles we face on the path to gender equity.
At Fairtrade, we want to take stock of the tremendous work, courage, and leadership displayed by women producers around the world who tirelessly contribute to a fairer and more equal future for all.
Women are key to the success of the global Fairtrade movement.
On the week marking International Women’s Day, we salute them.
Yvonne Amenan Yao - Cocoa Producer, Côte D’Ivoire
I joined CAUD (Coopérative Agricole Unité de Divo), one of the primary co-operatives that came together to form ECOOKIM (the Fairtrade certified Entreprise Coopérative Kimbre), in 2017. I am also a recent graduate of the Fairtrade Africa Women’s School of Leadership and since 2018, I have represented my co-operative as the person responsible for cocoa purchases.
Life as a cocoa producer is not easy at all. The harvest period is the busiest time and there are many different tasks to make sure it runs smoothly. During the day I have meetings with the daily workers and explain what I expect from them. I show them around the farm before they start working and then I check in on them during the day.
With Fairtrade’s help, I am able to take care of my family, buy things for the house, pay my husband’s medical expenses, send our children to school, and pay for daily workers. Training in budget management also allows me to take good care of the farm – at least half of my income goes back into the farm and its upkeep.
I am one of the few women who represent the co-operative in my community. I am responsible for encouraging my community members to join the co-operative. I also manage the purchases, deposits, and supply of cocoa for the co-operative members living in my community. I am also part of the Village Saving and Loans Association where women pool their financial resources in order to help others. This helps women to start income generating activities.
Graduating from the Women’s School of Leadership means I am able to help neighbouring villages to run training sessions and get other women involved in the co-operative. It is also a great opportunity to address gender matters in the co-operative and in our communities.
There are lots of widows and orphans in our community and I would like to set up an initiative to help these women look after their families. It’s particularly difficult for widows to access land. When their husband dies, all possessions are given back to his family, not to his wife. This is something I’d like to change. I want to help these women. For it to be a reality, not just a dream.
Jackline - Flower Producer, Kenya
I am Jackline. I am a single mom with three children. The two oldest are studying to be an engineer and a teacher and the youngest is in secondary school. They are doing well in school and also help me in and around the house with cleaning and washing clothes.
Our day starts at five in the morning. The children prepare to go to school. I myself am picked up by bus to go to the flower plantation, which is fortunate because it would otherwise be a five kilometre walk. I work there as a harvester and I specialize in harvesting and cleaning roses. Our flowers are really beautiful. The purple roses are my favorites.
Working on this flower farm has changed my family's life. I live in a better house and the children can go to school and continue their studies. I also put some money aside for my dream of one day working a larger piece of farmland and becoming a real business woman. In my spare time I also try to support other single mothers. We have a support group where we help each other with tips to get ahead in life. As a single mom without a job or network you really can't make it in Kenya.
Nercy Altagracia Amesquita - Banana Producer, Dominican Republic
My name is Nercy Altagracia Amesquita, and I’m 47 years old. I live in Guayubincito in the Montecristi province of the Dominican Republic. I work at Paradise at banana unpacking.
I’ve benefited greatly from the Fairtrade premium. I’ve been able to resolve problems with my house. I’m currently building my house. I’ve built the foundations. My bed was in bad condition, and now I have a new one. We had a lot of water problems with the tanks we had, and when the new water tank is ready, we’ll be able to keep a supply of water. We also have some garbage bins that were donated through the premium, and with the 20%, I’ve been able to pay off some debts. I’ve also been able to obtain school supplies for my daughter, so she can keep going to school.
I’m happy with the Fairtrade premium, and I would like it to continue, so that I can make more progress in resolving things in my house.
Ika Irawati - Youth Leader, Karmatera Cooperative, Indonesia
I want to raise awareness among the youth on the economic potential of sustainable local organic farming. The youth can make coconut sugar, farm organic fruits, and sell or export it through Karmatera cooperative. Local economic solutions are helpful for the youth instead of finding jobs outside the village. If we promote and support the youth to thrive in the sustainable local economic potential, it will lead to a gradual shift within the youth, to move away from economic activities that involve the exploitation of natural resources such as collecting woods and sands to sustainable local organic farming and eco-tourism.