Ten Thousand Villages marks Fair Trade Month by celebrating hope and dignity for women around the globe.
New Hamburg, ON (Sept. 16, 2013) – Shocking statistics reveal that while women perform nearly two-thirds of the world’s work hours, they only receive one-tenth of its income. Carrying the uneven burden of the world’s poverty means that many women and girls face harassment, unequal treatment and discrimination in the workplace, especially within the agricultural and textile industries. This October, Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating what fair trade means for women around the globe by marking the 10th anniversary of Fair Trade Month. Ethically-minded consumers and retailers are uniting with the aim of raising consumer awareness about the availability of quality, fair trade products that protect the environment, support communities and improve lives.
Gender Equality is one of the 10 principles essential to fair trade, as outlined by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). With women representing 70 per cent of the world’s poor, the need is great. Fair trade organizations ensure that women’s work is always properly valued and rewarded. Women are fairly paid for their contribution to the production process and are empowered within their organizations.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages is the oldest and largest fair trade organization in North America. Through fair trade, artisans receive more than fair value for their work – they regularly share stories of finding respect, dignity and hope. For the women of the Pobitra program in Bangladesh, for example, fair trade means all these things – along with a chance for a new life.
Victims of the Bangladesh sex trade, the women of the Pobitra program take part in an eight-month training program that also educates them on health and hygiene, literacy, mental health, human rights and peace. Upon joining the program, the women, known as “Survivors,” make a public commitment to embrace new opportunities and on completion, are given a blue sari to symbolize their rebirth. Their backgrounds are heartbreaking, yet their stories of transformation are beautiful.
The women work alongside each other to make handmade natural soaps and beautiful throw blankets made of recycled saris, under the name Sacred Mark. The products are then purchased by Ten Thousand Villages and made available in stores across North America.
“We are grateful to partner with the women of Pobitra. Their compelling stories and beautiful work have inspired us to share more broadly the message that fair trade matters. Fair trade makes lives more beautiful here and around the world,” shares Holly deGraaf, Director, Retail Operations and Public Relations at Ten Thousand Villages.
Ten Thousand Villages will be celebrating Fair Trade month with in-store and online specials and in-store events throughout October.
About Ten Thousand Villages
For more than 65 years, Ten Thousand Villages has been establishing long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack opportunities for stable income. The commitment to support artisans around the globe is strengthened through fair trade compensation practices that include cash advances and prompt payments.
Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee Canada, one of the country’s largest international relief and development agencies. The organization deliberately marries the concept of fair trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices. From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, Ten Thousand Villages strives to meet the “triple bottom line” of economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of founder Edna Ruth Byler’s car to a network of more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewellery, home decor, art and sculpture and personal accessories made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world’s largest fair trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 35 countries. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. For more information, visit www.tenthousandvillages.ca
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