Human trafficking is a topic we are loath to discuss, but so important it can't be denied. Most people likely don’t know that the United Nations has designated July 30th as World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. In 2013 the General Assembly held a high level meeting to address and implement a global plan of action to reduce trafficking worldwide and adopted a resolution that included World Day in order to raise awareness of the issue. (Read more about it here: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/68/192)
If you’ve perused our website and read some of our other blog entries you know that human trafficking is one of the issues we are most passionate about at Women’s Peace Collection. Our Freedom Collection, consisting of jewelry handmade by survivors, is rapidly expanding as we find more and more beautiful products and organizations working to eliminate trafficking across the globe.
So what exactly is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is most often described as a form of modern day slavery where human beings are exploited for profit. The most common forms include sexual exploitation and forced labor. There are millions of people trafficked worldwide annually and it is estimated that 71% are women and many are young children. Families in impoverished areas are often tricked into believing that there are employment opportunities for their children in the city. They send off their daughters in hope of a better future, not knowing that these young women are then taken into prostitution where they have little avenue for escape. Yes, unfortunately slavery does exist in the modern world, including in the United States.
Hope for the future
But there is hope as many organizations around the world are committed to eliminating this horrendous human rights issue. Organizations such as International Sanctuary, Starfish Project and Her Future Coalition, as well as numerous others, are devoted to rescuing women and teaching them crafts in order to prevent them from future trafficking situations. (We sell jewelry made by women in all 3 organizations).
What we are doing to help
At Women’s Peace Collection we are committed to doing our part in reducing human trafficking. We believe that empowering survivors by creating a market for their handicrafts is the best way we can help prevent them from being trafficked in the future. If the women have a means to becoming independent and self-sufficient they can live with the freedom and dreams all human beings are worthy of. We aim to help restore dignity and hope to formerly enslaved women. This is fair trade in its essence. Our goal is to source more products each year made by survivors, thus contributing in our own small way to the alleviation of human trafficking. Thanks for helping us do this!
I wanted to take a moment to wish all of the amazing mothers out there all across the globe a Happy Mother’s Day! I spent the day with my wonderful husband and awesome sons, who now in their 20’s, treated me to the most incredible brunch I’ve ever had. I was reveling in the joys of motherhood and how grateful I am to have raised such gracious, socially responsible and thoughtful young men.
My husband and I spent yesterday vending at a festive event in Jamaica Plain, MA, (near Boston) called Wake Up the Earth, an annual festival with music, food and crafts celebrating the beginning of spring. We had a blast and Women’s Peace Collection’s mission and products were well received. What moved me most were the young boys/men and girls/women buying gifts for their mothers. I watched and listened to kids of all ages carefully selecting gifts that were not only beautiful for their moms but that were meaningful. These young folks had clearly been raised in socially conscious families and delighted in giving their moms something made by impoverished artisans, knowing they were helping others with their purchases. I do have hope for the next generation!
And of course there were numerous husbands and adults doing the same thing (yes, lots of last minute shoppers!). I truly do believe that most people love helping others and if we can all do so with our purchases by supporting fair trade artisans this world will be a better place for all.
Last but not least, I think of and cherish my own 82 year old mother and recall all that she has done for us. When it comes down to it we human beings just want to love, help and support each other........don't you think?
Did you know that International Women’s Day has been celebrated across the globe since the early 1900’s? Every year on March 8th the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated and honored. This year’s theme is:
Will you be bold with us? Our mission at Women’s Peace Collection is to empower women all over the world by supporting their creative enterprises through fair trade practices. To us, every day is International Women’s Day, but we love to celebrate on March 8th with individuals and organizations who share our dreams for a world based on equality and inclusiveness for all genders.
Each year Women’s Peace Collection chooses an organization to support on International Women’s Day that we feel is bold in its efforts to help women achieve their goals and dreams. Last year we donated a percentage of sales to Dining for Women, one of our favorite non-profits. This year we are donating to International Sanctuary, another stellar organization that rescues women from human trafficking. Their mission is “to empower people escaping trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth.” Isanctuary provides the following services to the women they work with: counseling, job training, employment, micro-loans, education, scholarships and medical and dental care.
Much of The jewelry in our Freedom Collection is made by the women that Iscantuary is working with. Their pieces are simple, elegant and contemporary and are some of our best selling items. After being rescued, the women are taught jewelry-making techniques, which provides them with a lifelong skill and thus helps prevent them from future sex trafficking. Isanctuary is truly saving lives and empowering young women to achieve their dreams of a life of freedom!
We hope you will join us in being bold for change this year, supporting women in whatever way you feel moved to. Thanks for being on this journey with us.
Alas, another year has passed and we are thrilled with the growth and achievements of Women’s Peace Collection. A look at our website will quickly glean that we have increased our collection multi-fold. One of our objectives for the past year has been to focus on sourcing fair trade products with a specific cause attached to them. While everything we sell is fair trade and thus helping marginalized women and families across the globe, we have in our hearts a deep need to help certain groups.
The first area we expanded is our Freedom Collection, which consists of jewelry made by survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked. We were fortunate to discover new NGO’s working with women in India and China who are teaching them to create stunning, affordable jewelry. The new groups, Isanctuary and Starfish Project, rescue the women and then offer them safe shelter and counseling, and teach them a trade to reduce the chances of them being trafficked again. These are highly successful programs and happen to be our best selling collection of jewelry!
Another new favorite is our From War to Prosperity Collection, which consists of jewelry made from melted down artillery shells in Ethiopia. The farmers find the bullet casings scattered across the fields from former wars and a large fair trade cooperative consisting of HIV positive women handcraft the jewelry. The designs are unique and gorgeous and the cause fits perfectly with WPC’s mission to help eliminate poverty and create peace in the world.
We also expanded our Hear My Voice Collection of jewelry, handmade by deaf women in Kenya. Deaf women have an 85% unemployment rate in Kenya and are shunned in their communities, thus severely limiting opportunities. Our collection of wrap bracelets and stunning brass jewelry have been great sellers and we look forward to expanding the line in 2017.
I’d like to offer a huge thank you to all of our loyal customers – both online and at festivals – for your ongoing support of our mission and artisan partners. Here’s to an even better fair trade 2017 for all!
Since October is Fair Trade Month I thought it was a perfect time to write about an important topic - Fair Trade vs. Free Trade. I often hear people refer to fair trade as free trade, assuming the two are one and the same. Fair trade and free trade are actually quite different in both intent and execution. With the presidential election around the corner one of the hot topics lately has been trade. For example, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest proposed trade agreement, involving 12 nations in Asia and the Americas.
The Fair Trade Federation, our membership organization, recently published this chart that illustrates the difference between these 2 types of trade.
Hopefully this will clarify some of the confusion around this issue. The graphic below is another wonderful illustration of what fair trade is all about so I wanted to share that too. And I'm always available to answer questions or talk more about this topic that I am so passionate about.
On a beautiful fall day we arrived at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, to see a large tent filled with vendors for the third annual Fair Trade Day. Bentley is largely a business college and the Service Learning Program is incorporating fair trade into the curriculum. This was Women’s Peace Collection’s second year as a participant and the event had grown significantly since last year. The crowds were bigger and there were many more vendors selling everything from fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and a variety of beautiful crafts. And of course Ben and Jerry’s was there giving out free ice cream.
What impressed me most were the students. They were excited about shopping for a cause and asked thoughtful questions about how we source our products, what percentage the artisans receive, what makes the items fair trade, and so forth. Our new jewelry collection made by survivors of human trafficking in India was the best seller of the day – not only are the pieces beautiful but these young students loved the idea of helping the women who made them and were touched by the tags which say “made with love” and signed by the artisan. They were buying for themselves and for loved ones and clearly understood fair trade and its impact. And incidentally, I met a professor who teaches a sociology course on human trafficking – Bentley is on the ball!
We have participated in fair trade events at other colleges, including Siena College in Albany, NY, and Worcester State University in Worcester, MA. I absolutely love being at these events. It’s thrilling to meet students who are passionate about making a difference in the world and who understand fair trade as a vehicle for change. It gives me hope for the next generation and for our planet.
I just love summer. I can’t get enough of the warm, sunny New England days - swimming in our stunning lakes, hiking with my dogs and hopping on my bike. And of course – summer festivals! For years my husband and I attended music festivals and craft fairs all summer long as spectators, and now we spend most weekends with our Women’s Peace Collection booth, selling our fair trade handicrafts. We've been out in the hot sun, the rain, tropical winds and the perfect summer day - and it’s a blast!
The only drawback to selling primarily online is that we don’t have many opportunities to meet our customers in person. So this year we decided to be more visible and get to know our customers better. At festivals and fairs all over New England, from Cambridge to the Berkshires, we’ve met amazing people. As an extrovert there’s nothing I like more than schmoozing with people, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with people from all walks of life about fair trade. And once again, I’m humbled and delighted by the response we consistently get not only about our products but about our mission. The truth is people love to help other people! Both women and men, over and over, tell us how they love buying gifts with a purpose (for themselves as well). More people than ever are asking for cards that describe their purchase so the recipient can know the story behind it (and we’ve listened and are now providing them whenever possible).
And we’re carrying more products with particularly interesting stories, such as the jewelry collection made from melted down artillery shells in Ethiopia and our new jewelry made by survivors of human trafficking. And while it’s wonderful that so many people already know about and understand fair trade, it’s also very exciting to educate people who want to learn more. I just love hearing parents explaining to their children that the item they just bought is helping a woman out of poverty.
Soon we’ll be heading into fall where harvest festivals abound but for now I’m soaking in the summer sun, surrounded by all of my beautifully handmade fair trade crafts.