Women in the UK shop more ethically than men

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To mark International Women’s Day tomorrow (8 March), the Fairtrade Foundation can reveal that women in the UK are more likely than men to make ethical choices when shopping.

In a recent survey of 3,000 people across the UK by Brook Lyndhurst on behalf of the Fairtrade Foundation, 63 per cent of the UK population who are very positively inclined towards Fairtrade and other ethical issues are women.  Of this group, 68 per cent of respondents are aged over 35 and 58 per cent between 18 and 35 years old.




Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, who will speak to the Monmouth Women’s Festival later this week, says:


Globally, women produce half of the world’s food but earn only ten per cent of overall income. Fairtrade appeals to women in the UK because it’s a very practical solution to making a difference to the lives of women and their families in developing countries.  Women still do most of the country’s shopping, so it’s largely thanks to their support that Fairtrade is holding up so well.’

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight which is supported by famous names such as Sarah Brown and Christine Bleakley, a group of women Fairtrade farmers, including Rosemary Kadzitche  a peanut farmer from Malawi, are touring the UK for  the ’Take a Step for Fairtrade 2012’ campaign and giving a women’s perspective on how Fairtrade has helped their communities.

Sarah Brown said: ‘If you care about the people behind the food that ends up on your plate, or what clothes you wear, then please reach out to the poorest farmers around the world by taking a step for Fairtrade during 2012.’


TV presenter Christine Bleakley (ITV Dancing On Ice) saw what a difference Fairtrade can actually make when she visited a coffee farm in Uganda.  She said:  ‘The question isn’t ‘why do you buy Fairtrade?’ but  ‘why don’t you?’  Ever since visiting Oliva Kishero, who farms coffee on the remote slopes of Mount Elgon in Uganda to support her own children and several orphaned cousins, I have been buying Fairtrade because I’ve seen first-hand what a difference it can actually make.  I shall make sure that all my friends and family are doing the same during 2012’.


Women make up 42 per cent of workers on Fairtrade certified hired labour organisations and 24 per cent of members of small producer organisations.


In 2011, Fairtrade International led a workshop on gender and Fairtrade at the 64th annual United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) Conference. The panel featured three women speakers from SOPACDI coffee co-operative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Fairtrade International, and the audience was standing room only.    www.fairtrade.net/single_view1+M5488966d6a7.html


With Fairtrade, every step counts, and even more so when the benefits are focussed on women.  Sixty three-year old peanut farmer Rosemary Kadzitche, whose Fairtrade peanuts go into Harry’s Nuts! says: ‘Peanuts, or groundnuts as we call them in Malawi, are a women’s crop. They are grown by women. So husbands know the money from the groundnut crop is for their wives. The Fairtrade people should not worry when they give us a good price for the nuts – the money is going to the women and so we use it for the home and the family, to buy food and to pay for our children to go to school.


‘ I am happy to celebrate International Women’s Day in the country where the Fairtrade peanuts I grow are sold in the supermarkets.When you buy our nuts you are helping very poor people in Malawi.  ‘We are better off because some time back in our area the women were behind the men. Even when the women have good husbands it is still important that the men do not control our money. We control it ourselves.


 ‘With Fairtrade money we have done a lot to help the women and the country of Malawi. We have built a guardian shelter which is a place for the relatives of hospital patients to stay to help care for them. Now it is also used by pregnant women who have complications in their pregnancy and who need to see the doctor. They don’t have the money to travel to and from the hospital so they can stay near the hospital in the shelter. This is helping us save the lives of some of these women and their babies because it means they can now go to their appointments. ‘


About 28 per cent of Ghanaian cocoa co-operative Kuapa Kokoo’s members are women. Fairtrade gives them a voice in decision making where they might have struggled to be heard. As women, the benefits of Fairtrade reach far beyond just them, spreading out to their families and into their communities.  Cocoa farmer Akua Gyamfua, says: ‘Fairtrade has educated us women a lot it has brought about considerable change in our lives’.


The UK general population continues to be concerned about poverty and has high expectations of what businesses  should be doing to be more accountable, with 83 per cent of UK consumers saying companies can play an important role in reducing poverty through the way they do business, according GlobeScan[1]. The public believes that their individual shopping choices can make a positive difference to farmers and workers in poor countries and the FAIRTRADE Mark makes it easier for them to act on their values.


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