We here in the first world take our coffee, bananas, jeans and sneakers for granted, but there are many people in other countries that are not so lucky. Every day, tens of thousands of people in various Asian, African and South American countries—men, women and even children—work themselves to the bone in nearly unbearable conditions for pennies so we can continue to enjoy those things. However, there are many people in this world who feel that everyone deserves decent wages and working conditions, regardless of where they live, and these people have created Fair Trade Day. Fair Trade Day is a global event that aims to draw attention to the objectives and achievements of the Fair Trade movement. The Fair Trade movement campaigns to improve the lives of workers and small producers, especially those within developing economies, by asserting their rights and raising their visibility within international trade. The movement invites consumers to participate in its campaign by choosing Fair Trade alternatives to existing products.
The History of Fair Trade Day
World Fair Trade Day was created by the the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in 2004, though the WFTO itself came into existence 15 years earlier, in 1989. WFTO is a global association of 324 organizations in over 70 countries, and Fair Trade Day takes place on the second Saturday of May of each year, and it is an inclusive worldwide festival of events celebrating Fair Trade as a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crisis that has the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations.
WFTO’s top ten priorities are:
1. Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
2. Transparency and Accountability
3. Fair Trading Practices
4. Payment of a Fair Price
5. Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
6. Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
7. Ensuring Good Working Conditions
8. Providing Capacity Building
9. Promoting Fair Trade
10. Respect for the Environment
WFTO believes that the global crisis confirms the need for a fair and sustainable economy locally and globally. Trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for small and disadvantaged producers. Millions of producers and traders, businesses and policy makers, supporting organizations and volunteers have contributed to the substantial growth of Fair Trade globally.
How to Celebrate Fair Trade Day
Fair Trade Day is observed in countries across the world by various events in which local producers and artisans mark the contribution that has been made by Fair Trade initiatives. Often involving food and art, the events are intended to be a colourful and enjoyable reminder of the success of the movement to date, and a prompt for consumers to consider Fair Trade options within their shopping. If you want to take part in this special day, researching the work conditions of people around the world would be a good place to start, just so you can get a general idea about how those people are forced to live. You are likely to be shocked at how the things you enjoy on an everyday basis are made, but awareness is the first step towards making any kind of chain. The next step wold be to raise awareness among your family and friends—even sharing information on Facebook or Twitter can go along way, as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge of 2014 so perfectly proved. Last but not least, you could make the simple but effective promise to only buy certified Fair Trade products, thereby giving your hard-earned money to only those companies that truly care about the well-being of those less fortunate.