Fairtrade and Gender Equality

Feminists for Fairtrade

Let’s talk about the F-word.

Maybe you haven’t spent a whole lot of time wondering why all of our pints have a blue-and-green  Fairtrade Certified label on them. But what if we told you that dipping a spoon into a pint of Fairtrade Certified Ben & Jerry’s ice cream could help support a better world for women? Intrigued? You know you are. Read on, dear ice cream lover!

What Is Fairtrade, Anyway?

That colorful little logo has a big purpose behind it. Any time you see a product that’s Fairtrade certified, like your pint of Ben & Jerry’s, you know that the farmers who grow the ingredients that go into that product – cocoa, vanilla, sugar, bananas, and coffee in our case – have received a fairer price for their hard work instead of being taken advantage of by powerful commodities businesses. Farmers who participate in Fairtrade also agree to a set of standards that better everyone, including environmentally sound farming practices, fair working standards, and investment back into their communities.

But What Does That Have to Do With Women?

If you believe that women deserve political, social, and economic equality with men, among a host of other things— and you’re not afraid to advocate for those rights, either -good! We’re with you there. That’s a big reason why we’ve been working with Fairtrade International since 2014. Here’s another reason to eat your pint with impunity… or, actually, we’ll give you five reasons your ice-cream habit supports women.

Fairtrade farmer

  1. Opportunity To Be Part Of The Action.

    There are plenty of women who want to get a job working in the coffee industry, or the cocoa industry — but who are often passed over in favor of male competitors. Fairtrade International encourages women to get involved, and provides the training and jobs necessary to keep them employed and contributing to their own financial security. So the next time you scoop up some Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, you might be getting your buzz from the Fairtrade-sponsored Growing Women in Coffee project, helping women own and run their own coffee farms.

  2. A Vote And a Voice.

    One of the key principles of Fairtrade certification is empowering people — men and women — through democracy.  At one Fairtrade Certified cocoa cooperative in Ghana, nearly half of the National Executive Council members (including its president) are women. Fairtrade International knows that getting women involved is good for women — and good for business, too. 

  3. Safer Home Lives.

    Studies show that women who fall below the poverty line report incidents of domestic violence five times more often than those who earn more. And that’s in the United States, not in the largely underdeveloped countries where many of our Fairtrade Certified products are produced. But once women start narrowing the wage gap between women and men, incidents of domestic violence sharply decline. By choosing to use certified Fairtrade ingredients — thus ensuring fairer pay — we can help do our part.

  4. Community Development.

    Eat a cone, help build a school — how’s that sound? We think it sounds pretty good, and our relationship with Fairtrade International helps do just that. Part of the deal Fairtrade has made with its farmers is that some of the incoming funds be set aside for community development projects, such as building schools, hospitals, technical training programs, credit programs, or family planning services. What does family planning have to do with the cocoa or vanilla bean harvest? Just ask women who came of age in 1960, when the pill was first approved for contraceptive use: family planning helps women achieve the career they want, on the timeline that works best for them. That gives them the opportunity to own and work their own land, produce profitable harvests, and get paid fairly for them.

  5. Higher Pay For Everyone.

    Women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries — yet have much less access to land, credit, and technical assistance. They’re also paid less than men for the same work. Decreasing the gender gap would benefit both women and the global economy: research shows that women who are paid a fair wage are healthier and more independent, while fair wages also improve the lives of their children. Need another reason to boost women up via Fairtrade purchases? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that closing the gender gap in agriculture would reduce the number of undernourished people by 100-150 million. And all you’ve got to do to play your part is to eat a delicious pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Not so hard, right?

Ok, we just gave you five awesome reasons to support Fairtrade Certified products if you’re passionate about gender equality. But there are even more reasons to support the work Fairtrade is doing to narrow the gender gap and improve the lives of women around the world: buying Fairtrade contributes to justice for women, is good for business and creates a more productive and healthier society. And all you have to do is look out for that blue and green label at the grocery store. (Oh, and we’d suggest finding a spoon, too.)