June 13, 2014
We all know the saying, but what does it really mean?
People sometimes ask me why they should buy artisan products instead of just giving a financial donation to a cause. It’s a good question, of course, so I’d like to shed some light on the answer.
I decided to purchase the Women’s Peace Collection because of my passion to help marginalized, yet talented, women from around the world. All over the globe there are women and families who are starving, in refugee camps, victims of human trafficking and a whole host of other financial and social problems. While making financial contributions or volunteering in developing countries are both extremely valuable, I know deep down that the way to really make a lasting difference in peoples’ lives is to empower them to support themselves.
Research shows that investing in women is most often the key to success in a family and community. Women are committed to raising families, ensuring the well-being of the children, and making sure everyone is safe, fed, has adequate health care and whenever possible, educated. This is not at all to say that men don’t have similar interests and values, but it has been shown time and again that if you empower women with a way to support themselves they will do it and will save money and re-invest it in their businesses and their families.
So the time has come to teach these women to fish! They already have the skills as talented weavers, jewelers, basket makers, embroiderers and seamstresses. Teaching them to fish involves helping them with business skills, marketing, financial planning and saving. They often need to be shown what types of products men and women in the United States and other developed countries will buy. They then use their skills to produce contemporary styles that people will buy, hence creating more income to make more products and lo and behold, they are in business!
In comes the Fair Trade movement. I will write about Fair Trade in more detail in future blogs, but the essence of it is to pay artisans and farmers in third world countries fair wages in order to ensure that they have a sustainable livelihood. There are NGO’s and fair trade businesses worldwide helping women out of poverty through social enterprise. They are not only helping women set up viable businesses, but are creating health clinics, schools and libraries in communities worldwide. Some women entrepreneurs are even getting microloans and are re-investing and growing their businesses, which they then pass down to their children. They are working in artisan cooperatives all across the globe, finally able to support themselves and their families. These women have clearly learned to fish and are fishing their way out of poverty!
How great is that???