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Kiwis urged to act after fair trade report

Kiwis urged to act after new report highlights critical role of fair trade for impoverished women

Women make up the large majority of people in absolute poverty and the global financial crisis has made their situation critical, warns Trade Aid as part of its ‘Just Women’ campaign marking this year’s Fair Trade Fortnight (1–16 May).

The warning follows the release of the latest Social Watch Report, which uncovers hard facts on the current issues facing women working in developing countries. Trade Aid – New Zealand’s only fair trade food and craft organisation – is now calling on Kiwis to use this year’s Fair Trade Fortnight as the ideal opportunity to help empower women to overcome poverty and improve their lives for the long term.

The Social Watch Report 2009 is the first of its kind as a bottom-up report on the social impact of the global financial crisis. It shows how the crisis has effectively wiped out economic gains previously made by women and has caused significant regression in women’s equality rights on a global scale. This is on top of the crises women already face in relation to environment, food, energy, finance and politics.

Michelia Ward, Trade Aid’s Education Manager, says “The report highlights the critical need for sustainable economic development approaches, such as fair trade, to address the current ecological and economic crisis. It points to the real need to invest in the people (and specifically women) who make and grow the products, providing them with valuable income-generating opportunities, so they can work themselves out of poverty.”

To help address some of the issues highlighted within the report, Trade Aid’s timely ‘Just Women’ campaign aims to show the positive impact that fair trade is having on disadvantaged women’s lives worldwide, and to encourage people to get involved.

A visit from one of Trade Aid’s Nepalese trading partners will play a key role in the organisation’s efforts to highlight how fair trade is empowering Nepalese women (and others like them worldwide) to work themselves out of poverty. Meera Bhattarai, founder of the Association for Craft Producers (ACP), will be visiting a range of New Zealand’s Trade Aid shop areas and participating in their activities throughout Fair Trade Fortnight.

Ward says: “We’re delighted that Meera is joining us to celebrate this year’s Fair Trade Fortnight. There’ll be lots of opportunities for people to hear how her hopes and dreams for fellow women led her to found the ACP, a not-for-profit organisation that supports Nepalese women to become economically self-sufficient.

“We believe Meera’s visit will go a long way in showing how Kiwis’ choice to buy fair trade really does make a difference to disadvantaged women, their families and to developing communities around the world.”

Get involved in Trade Aid’s nationwide Fair Trade Fortnight activities by visiting your local Trade Aid shop, or by checking out Trade Aid’s website – www.tradeaid.org.nz. A wide range of beautifully handcrafted fair trade products can be viewed online – many are made for women by women, making them ideal gifts for Mother’s Day (9 May).

Trade Aid is New Zealand’s oldest and largest fair trade organisation. It attempts to understand the problems its trading partners face and shares this understanding by telling its producers’ stories and speaking out about injustices in international trade rules. Trade Aid puts people before profit and is 100 per cent committed to improving the lives of those it works with.

ENDS

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