Women at the Centre of the Fairtrade System

Unfortunately the inequalities which exist between men and women in our society remain a topical issue. We have had to wait until 2018, for a country, Iceland, to take the leap and make equal pay statutory – setting an example every country should follow.

In developing countries, agricultural work plays a vital economic role and it employs a considerable number of women as approximately 48% of this work is carried out by them. However, women over the world come up against restrictions which prevent them from fully contributing to agricultural production. And yet, if gender inequality were to be properly tackled in the agricultural sector, the number of people suffering from hunger could be reduced by nearly 140 million and agricultural output could be increased by up to 4% in developing countries.

Beatriz Gallegos, daughter and granddaughter of agave farmers in Mexico, has been able to take full advantage of the impact Fairtrade has had in this area. In Fairtrade’s standards, promoting equality between men and women is extremely important. This means that drawing any distinction based on gender or marital status is forbidden. Likewise, any sexually intimidating words, gestures or physical contact are strictly prohibited. After she finished studying, thanks to fair trade, Beatriz was able to see prospects for her future in the rural village where she was born. Today, she plays a significant role in the Ejido Santiago Association, which represents 178 agave farmers who work over 20,000 hectares of land made available to them by the Mexican government. Beatriz is proud that she is able to contribute something towards developing her community; however, she is particularly pleased that she has not been forced to move away to the city in search of a better life.

To ensure that Beatriz’s story is not just a one-off case, Fairtrade is also focusing on education. Education for women, to be sure, so that they can take on more important roles and carry out highly responsible work. But education for men too, and in particular to increase their awareness of gender issues and the role of women.

In doing this, Fairtrade is helping to break down traditional stereotypes surrounding the roles of men and women. Thanks to schemes to train producer networks, women can now aspire to jobs which up until now were reserved for men only. This also means that women’s status can change and they can achieve more equality and recognition.

You will find the agave syrup produced by this cooperative in “Little Miracles” Fairtrade-certified iced teas and at the same time you can discover the health benefits of Chinese ginseng, a plant known to produce energizing and reviving effects.