It is quite easy to feel that all the news around international development is depressing. Even when there seem to be small improvements in the plight of people struggling around the world, they are outweighed by the innumerable reports of deprivation and suffering. While there is, obviously, still a long way to go to make the world a haven of equality, there is a bright shining star in the form of the Fairtrade movement (and of course all the hard work put in by international NGO’s such as ourselves).
Fairtrade is a word which comes laden with associations, either of middle-class po-faced ethics or misshapen home-wares that don’t really have a purpose. Like all stereotypes there is some truth in these images but Fairtrade is much more than that.
Fairtrade is a way for people to be paid a decent amount for the work that they do. No-one can argue that there is something fundamentally wrong with a world in which sweat-shop labour has become the norm and most people couldn’t tell you the provenance of the things they buy. Fairtrade seeks to address that by giving people the opportunity to know that the goods they are buying have been sourced with the well-being of the producers in mind. It is a way for people to earn decent wages and help themselves out of poverty and most importantly it is a way of connecting two apparently disparate groups across cultures and income brackets.
Proselytising over, it is my duty to remind everyone that it is currently Fairtrade Fortnight and that the best way to celebrate this is to come by your local Oxfam bookshop and pick up some of our yummy Divine chocolate. Not only can you feel smug about munching on some Fairtrade loveliness you can also feel good about the fact that all the extra profits go to us and our quest to alleviate poverty. What more could you want from a bar of chocolate?