This year, the Fairtrade Foundation is telling the stories of female cocoa farmers through its #SheDeserves campaign. We’re delighted to see the spotlight on women for Fairtrade Fortnight since the vast majority of our incredible weavers are female farmers. Like the cocoa farmers in West Africa, our weavers are juggling the demands of family life with the ups and downs of agricultural work and drought – weaving their wonderful baskets when and where they can for a more dignified life.
Enabling these women to earn a true living through basket weaving is what The Basket Room is all about, and we’re supporting the #SheDeserves campaign in the hope that more consumers are made aware of the provenance and the ethical credentials of their kitchen staples – things like sugar, chocolate, tea and coffee.
Acccording to the Fairtrade Foundation, £1.86 is the amount a cocoa farmer in West Africa needs to earn each day in order to achieve a ‘living income’ – enough to pay for essentials such as clothing, medicine and school. Enough to lead a dignified life. Currently, a typical cocoa farmer in Cote d’Ivoire lives on around 74p a day – woefully below the poverty line. Those farming with a Fairtrade cooperative, however, will earn this living income as a minimum. So, if you stop reading this blog post right now then your take-away is this: put Fairtrade in your shopping basket whenever and wherever you can. In doing this you’re growing the Fairtrade legacy and enabling farming families to meet their most basic needs.
Big shout-outs to Waitrose & Partners, the Co-op, Ben & Jerry’s and Divine Chocolate who are all sourcing Fairtrade cocoa for their customers. Keep these brands in mind when you do your Easter shopping!
The Fairtrade Foundation’s She Deserves campaign calls on the UK Government and companies to ensure cocoa farmers ALL earn living incomes by 2030.The stories told by the campaign aim to raise awareness amongst shoppers of the challenges facing these women: they work in the fields, they look after the children, they do all the chores and the lion’s share of labour involved in bringing cocoa crops to market… but they have fewer rights than men, rarely own their own land, and so they take home far less income than their male co-workers.
Whilst the Fairtrade label is largely for consumables like coffee and chocolate, the principles of Fairtrade are followed by countless small businesses like ours. We’re extremely proud of the fact that the way we engage with weaving cooperatives across Kenya, Ghana and further afield across Africa enables women to provide living essentials for themselves and their families, and often much more. Below you’ll meet some of our cherished weavers and learn a little more about just how far their wages from basket sales go. For some, it’s about meeting bills and buying groceries; for others the money earned through weaving helps women develop their own businesses, purchase land, and save – literally, in the land of drought – for a rainy day.
“Proceeds from weaving helped educate my children. I am now able to clothe and feed myself and my family from the income from weaving. Sometimes I find that I even have money left over, which I save or invest in my grocery business.” - Madam Dorcas
From basket weaving, I am able to meet the needs of my household: paying school fees, putting food on the table and buying clothes and other essentials, as well as having some money left over to save. - Peninah (left
I never travelled much before, but since we started selling the baskets in Nairobi, I’ve realised how much I enjoy travelling. I am now able to travel all over Kenya with my work, and sometimes I take my family with me. I also don’t have to rely solely on my husband’s income in running my household anymore. - Florence (2nd from left)
Click here to sign the petition to take exploitation out of chocolate.
Click here to find out more about the Fairtrade Foundation and the World Fair Trade Organisation.