It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual campaign to increase awareness around Fairtrade products. The campaign began in 1997. Marion Fraser, in association with Christian Aid, Oxfam, The World Development Movement and others, lead a successful effort throughout Scotland to get every supermarket to stock Fairtrade products. This movement quickly spread throughout the United Kingdom the subsequent year and now Fairtrade Fortnights are held in several OECD countries including New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Australia.
The focus of this years Fairtrade Fortnight is people, in particular the women who grow the cocoa responsible for the chocolate we love. The living wage in the UK is £9 an hour, in contrast the living wage for a cocoa farmer in West Africa is £1.86 a day. Many Cocoa farmers struggle to even make this wage, often surviving on 74p a day or less. To put this into context a UK worker earning £9 pounds an hour makes more in an eight-hour work day than an average Cocoa farmer does in over three months. Women in these positions have the added burden of looking after their children, carrying water, and cooking and cleaning for their families.
Fairtrade standards ensure products are sustainably harvested and enforce a minimum price for a farmer’s products. The organisation also helps communities organise themselves into cooperatives to improve their negotiation position within their supply chain, offers legal advice and invests in education, better housing, schools and medical facilities.
One can often feel powerless in the face of such massive problems which cross borders and intersect with other global issues. However, there are always actions we can take to help – at Considerate we believe every step, however small, counts if the goal is a worthwhile one.
Fairtrade have a number of resources on their website with ideas of how you can involve yourself in Fairtrade Fortnight. These include signing a petition calling upon the UK Government to ensure our trade commitments with developing countries put poverty reduction above profit, fundraising ideas and sharing #SheDeserves on social media amongst others, including of course buying Fairtrade chocolate.
As businesses, we can ensure we buy and supply Fairtrade goods where possible – and ask our suppliers about their supply chains. The Fairtrade website offers further advice.