Did you know that almost half of the people in the world live in poverty, including almost a billion children? Those living in poverty lack access to a varying number of necessities such as shelter, food, water, and medical care. According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the leading cause of death in the world.
Poverty is a complex issue because the longer it exists, the more it grows. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day. The countries that have its citizens living in extreme poverty have been in that state for several years, if not decades. However, it is important to note that in 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day. This rate dropped to 14 per cent in 2015, according to the United Nations. Poverty is an exponential problem that cannot be fixed on its own. One simple way that we can all help the issue of poverty in low-and middle-income countries in the long-term is by implementing fair trade.
Fair Trade is a simple concept, but the effects can be quite astounding. It looks as simple as buying products from other countries and basically ensuring that the profits go to the right people- the ones who actually produce them. Whether it’s artisans that create jewelry or farmers that grow crops, the ones who produce the goods need to be receiving the funds.
Fair Trade is meant to be a way to provide a living wage. The amount can vary by a country’s economy, but the idea is that it provides for the basic needs of the producer. That means that they should make enough money to afford a home, food, clothing, medical services, etc.
Fair Trade is meant to be a way to keep all people out of unsafe working environments. That means reasonable working hours, decent conditions, no forced or child labor, and really nothing that can bring harm to an individual. A safe working environment should also protect women from sexual abuse.
Fair Trade is meant to provide a more sustainable solution for the environment. Many artisans who produce Fair Trade goods recycle what is around them to make their products. Farmers are cultivating using the land around them and bringing life back to their ecosystem.
Last, but certainly not least, Fair Trade is meant to bring dignity to the people it supports. Contrary to popular belief, people in these countries are not looking for handouts. They are looking for ways to help themselves and they are fully capable when given the right tools. Providing for themselves and their families brings them pride and creates a better environment for everyone.
When we provide for a person’s most basic needs, we give them an opportunity to explore higher purposes, like education. When parents don’t have to worry so much about whether they can feed their child, they can put money toward books and school uniforms. By empowering those same parents and giving them work, we are allowing them to be positive examples to their children. Helping today’s generation is planting the seeds for a better tomorrow.
Start today and find ways to replace your favorite goods with Fair Trade items or give Fair Trade gifts this Christmas. The difference in cost is minimal to you and the impact to the producers is life changing.
Sarah Haney is a mom, blogger, activist. and founder of the World as One Project.
Featured photo: Jennifer James