Bangladesh Artisans

Botswana BasketYou know that moment when you are in complete awe of something? And as you embrace it, you think to yourself, “I wish *insert name* were here to witness this with me?”
I had that moment at the end of an amazing experience in Botswana in 2010. But instead of having to wish my mother was there with me, I could look to my side and see that she was just as captivated as I was.

I had somehow convinced my mother to travel with me to Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa for three weeks to volunteer at a nature reserve and a Girl Guide Youth Centre. Still amazed that she even got on the plane, she doesn’t stop talking about the experience.

kristenray (157 of 594)Most girls dream of their wedding day … and I was no exception. Last year, I was able to say ‘I do’ to my best friend and marry him under a beautiful August sky.

Getting to that perfect day, however, was full of many details, one of which was particularly important to us: How can we add Fair Trade products to our wedding, and stay within budget?

Working at Ten Thousand Villages for the last nine years has had a deep and profound effect on my life. I understand how the things I buy affect those who made them, and this knowledge drives the decisions I make every day.

sunita_shrestha_knitting_groupLaxmi Maharjan has “slippery hands.”

So does Edith Najjemba, and Loreta Rafisura, and many other women artisans with whom Ten Thousand Villages works. While this description may seem unlikely – and even offensive out of context – it applies perfectly to them all. Especially to Laxmi, an expert weaving instructor with the Association of Craft Producers (ACP) in Nepal.

We don’t plan to post a blog entry every day, but we didn’t want to miss this opportunity to let you know that tomorrow is a pretty big deal for us at Ten Thousand Villages.

Bangalesh_HajiganjSaturday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of women, with roots tracing back to the early 1900s. This year’s theme is Inspiring Change. There will be thousands of events around the world to commemorate successes, and to inspire women to continue working for equality where discrimination persists.

A “Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association” is one of the fundamental values of Fair Trade. It’s enshrined in the World Fair Trade Organization’s (WFTO) 10 Principles of Fair Trade,  and it guides the work of committed Fair Trade organizations like Ten Thousand Villages.

According to the WFTO’s International Women’s Day 2014 webpage:

Women do most of the work in the world – 67%, in fact, according to a UN report – yet receive 30 to 40% less than men for comparable work, and in many developing countries women receive no remuneration at all.

These are startling, upsetting statistics.

And they’re the reason why Ten Thousand Villages is so proud that 60% of our artisan partners are women.

Please check out the WFTO’s press release about the intersection of Fair Trade with gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

As well, stay tuned next week for a blog entry from one of our store managers about a women’s artisan group that we’re proud to partner with.