The Many Impacts of Fair Trade, Part 3

Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA

In this country, it’s very difficult to imagine not being able to send our kids to school. But stop and think about it a moment: imagine being a mother forced with an agonizing choice…your family is not going to make it unless you have additional income coming in. Do you send your daughter to school so she has a chance at a better life, or into the fields so that all of you can eat and survive?

It’s a choice no parent should ever have to make. But in too many parts of the world, it’s a choice that’s faced every single day.

This post is Part 3 in my series detailing the many benefits of fair trade (you can read Part 1 and Part 2 by following the links). Today I want to talk about how fair trade impacts education.

Fair Trade and Education Go Hand in Hand

One of the most important benefits fair trade has is the educational opportunities it offers adults and children alike.

People who live in poverty often have to send their children to work in the fields, or in a factory, in order to earn enough money for everyone to survive on. Children are at a much higher risk for abuse and injury when they work for others, especially when those “bosses” are often unscrupulous. Young girls face the highest risk of all for sexual abuse and mistreatment.

However, when families are earning a fair wage for their work or goods, they don’t need to send their children into high-risk environments, or eliminate their dreams for a better life. The additional income earned through fair trade enables them to buy uniforms, school supplies, and food so that they can afford to send their children to school.

Another major benefit is that communities often use the funds raised through fair trade to build their own schools, and hire teachers. In many cases, children in villages that didn’t have a school had to travel miles out of the way if they wanted to attend class. In most cases, however, kids didn’t go at all; it was just too far.

But when a village has their own school, every child can attend. They learn how to read and write, and they learn about the richness of the world around them. Most importantly, they learn how to dream of bigger and better things for themselves and their families.

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