Mitch Teberg, MAAssociate Member
Here is how it works:
the low prices crafts-persons receive for handicraft products are dictatedby outside agents and there is no room for negotiation in the take-it-or-leave-it offer presented toa household. Like the coffee farmers around the world, there are multiple layers of middlemenbetween the crafts-person and the exporter, all of whom are squeezing a profit out of theirlabors while the laborer lives at a subsistence level. In my work in Vietnam, I found 7 - 12 layersof middlemen between the producer and the exporter. Simply stated, at the lowest level in the
value chain if they don’t accept what is offered they may lose their only income opportunity.
Again, these moves only divide communities and destroy what were once sustainablecommunity livelihoods; and handicraft villages are amongst the most vulnerable.Furthermore, there is frequently a gender-based discrimination that exists in much of thehandicraft production. Most of the labor in processing and preparation of materials to make ahandicraft goes unrecognized and unpaid because these are considered the labors of women ina household. Simply stated, it becomes a gender role. Just as housework and child rearing isall-too-often not regarded as "labor" despite the demands faced, a woman's work in support ofcraftsman frequently goes unpaid.Forming a local co-operative or community association based on Fair Trade principlesaddresses these gender disparities and unites a community of craftsmen and craftswomen frombeing disadvantaged in the local and global marketplace.
Whose Trade Organizationby Lori Wallach and Patrick Woodall
Fair Trade presents a social awareness not seen in the neo-liberal theories of trade emphasizedin the
or in the economic reform packages forced ondeveloping nations in the Structural Adjustment Programs of the IMF and World Bank. There is