Fair Trade Month- Promoting Artisans All Around the World

October marked Fair Trade Month, a month that helps promote artisans all over the world who create personal and household goods that “then pays artisans a fair wage, empowering them to provide for their families and make a difference in their communities. We focus on women because they invest up to 90% of their income in their families and communities” states a business called Threads Worldwide. Threads Worldwide, launched in 2011, strives to provide work for struggling women all over the globe, those who suffer from poverty, sex trafficking, and illness. Through companies like Threads, women all around the world are able to find work in order to make money for food and education, to provide for themselves and their families, allowing them to thrive in their communities and get out from under financial hardships. Many of these women have incredible talent, but need a global market in which to sell their goods. Threads provides artisans in countries from Guatemala to India to assist in this endeavor.

Here in the United States, Angela Melfi, with the collaborative help from co-founders, Kara Wiegand and Lindsay Murphy, began this company in order to aid women around the world. “It’s a tangible way for women to get together.” Says Angela Melfi, “To build a community and a business.”

Fair Trade Month opens up the minds of people to the world of fair trade. “Fair trade is not free trade, that is the big difference” remarks Melfi. Fair trade “promotes fair wages, healthy working conditions, and a sustainable environment for both workers and the planet. A fair wage is a livable income in the local context that does not skew the local economy, but accounts for time, skills, cost of living, and purchasing power” (Threads Worldwide). Fair trade is building a business for the artisans and gives the artisans a chance to get their business off of the ground. Many artisans utilize their countries natural resources as a part of their business. Women in Cambodia will use newspaper, rice bags, and other materials to create beautiful jewelry and bags. Many of the artisan women were banished from their community due to diseases like HIV. Others are victims of sex-trafficking. The artisans will use techniques from their culture to create a beautiful, ethnic style of jewelry.

Melfi and the other women at Threads create many great opportunities for women all around the world, providing them with jobs and financial opportunities; as well as giving them a sense of purpose in a community that may have ostracized them.