Championing women in trade
Across the world, women face discrimination and exclusion from the benefits of trade. Often women are not able to control the income they earn, and they lack access to land, finance and support services they need to succeed in trade and business. Often women are simply expected to stay at home and care for the children and household. When women do secure work, they are more likely to get low-paid, insecure employment.
Traidcraft Exchange has made it a priority to support women and other excluded groups, like people with disabilities, to benefit more fairly from trade and business.
Traidcraft Exchange is currently working with partners in Bangladesh to support women who play a vital but hidden role in the jute supply chain.
After the harvest, jute plants are soaked in water for several weeks, and then these women have the job of extracting the precious jute fibres from the stalks. It’s a hard, physical job, which involves squatting for hours in damp fields. Infections are common and women report intense pain in their joints.
Traidcraft Exchange has worked to help the women organise into self-help groups, these provide the basis for mutual support, training and savings and loan schemes. Women are encouraged to develop new sources of income and get practical training on key topics - from goat-rearing to basic health and hygiene.
With this comes new confidence in other spheres of life. Two years into the work, 80% of women surveyed report more decision making power over their household income. The proportion of leadership positions on local and regional councils in the area held by women has risen from none to one third.