Fair Trade- A Brief Explanation

Saturday marked the beginning of Fair Trade Fortnight, a celebration of all things fair and ethical in Australia and New Zealand. As a fair trade organisation Seven Women is delighted to be involved in its events in Melbourne over the next two weeks. But what is fair trade?

According to Fairtrade Australia, fair trade is “about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”.

Essentially, it's about putting people (and the world) before profit.

It matches well with our own vision and practices.

Here's the World Fair Trade Organsation's Ten Principles of Fair Trade. They are explained on this site.

The links here take you to a series of posts written in 2012 by another volunteer, Byron, about the principles and Seven Women's connections to them.

  1. Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
  2. Transparency and Accountability
  3. Fair Trading Practices
  4. Payment of a Fair Price
  5. Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
  6. Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women's Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association
  7. Ensuring Good Working Conditions
  8. Providing Capacity Building
  9. Promoting Fair Trade
  10. Respect for the Environment

Here's an interesting note: while Seven Women is a fair trade organisation, we cannot be a  Fairtrade organisation. Fairtrade, without the space, is a certification system. Organisations can become Fairtrade certified by applying to Fairtrade International and proving that every single point in their supplier chain follows the principles of fair trade.

This works well for products like chocolates or flowers, where the supplier train is easy to track. It doesn't work so well for handicrafts. Seven Women Nepal buys raw materials from the local market, and as these suppliers are not guaranteed to be fair trade we cannot get certification. Unfortunately, it's logistically impossible for us to have fair trade suppliers. It's a problem faced by every fair trade handicraft organisation. Aside from this, Seven Women determinedly adheres to the fair trade principles.

This page can give you more information about Fairtrade certification and labelling.

Any queries or comments? Ask below.