FAIR TRADE PRINCIPLES
WEAVE’s commitment to Fair Trade applies to all stages of the supply, production and sales chain of our women artisans’ handicraft products. We want to make sure that both our artisans, our customers and our partner organizations will always experience doing business with us as a pleasure. As far as the individual principles of Fair Trade are concerned, here is what their implementation in our day-to-day work looks like:
Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Our women artisans are either refugees or of a marginalized ethnic origin. Members of these minority groups are generally inherently disadvantaged compared to the rest of society, and being women, our artisans are even more so. One of the goals pursued by WEAVE is to provide these women with the chance to attain financial independence while unfolding their full creative potential and confidence and thus help them become self-reliant and live a dignified life.
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
To ensure WEAVE’s adherence to the Ten Principles of Fair Trade and the Charter of Fair Trade Principles, we are held accountable on a regular basis by WFTO Asia and our stakeholders for all management and bookkeeping, the economic and social conditions of our suppliers as well as of our women artisans and their production and work conditions. We furthermore include both our women artisans and our office staff members in our decision-making processes wherever possible and make sure to maintain open communication on all levels of our supply chain. Not only do we pursue our work according to our self-imposed principles and moral compass, we are also happy to have the community of WFTO Asia at our side to help us improve our work in whatever possible way.
Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
As a Fair Trade Social Enterprise, WEAVE makes sure that all steps of the supply and production chain meet the requirements stipulated by the Ten Principles of Fair Trade. We provide our women artisans with raw materials such as fabrics and threads, place our customers’ orders with them, follow up on their production processes and pay them cash directly upon receipt of delivery. We furthermore regularly provide them with training sessions to broaden their repertoire of handicraft skills as well as with workshops on the Principles of Fair Trade. When starting their handicraft production for WEAVE, our women artisans had little awareness of product quality and working conditions. Meanwhile they have come to highly appreciate our Fair Trade Principles and efforts.
While developing samples for new patterns for the handicraft products in cooperation with our women artisans, at WEAVE we recognize, promote and protect their cultural identity and traditional skills and seek to keep them alive through educational training and the practice of their skills and traditions.
Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price
The prices we pay our WEAVE women for their handicraft products are negotiated with them and take into consideration the cost of living at their refugee camps or hill tribe villages, respectively. Whereas our artisans are paid per item they produce, our in-camp quality controllers are paid on the basis of a monthly lump sum. As for our office staff members, we always guarantee them wages above the legal minimum plus social security benefits.
Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
WEAVE pursues a very strict policy on child protection. Young women artisans, be they sewers, embroiderers, loom operators or quality controllers, have to be at least 18 years old to be allowed to work for us. However, they are always welcome to attend our skills workshops, if they are interested in acquiring or improving theoretical and/or practical skills on a voluntary basis. Our Fair Trade workshops on the other hand always focus on topics such as women’s rights, gender equity and children’s rights and we offer numerous playful activities that aim at raising awareness about these issues. We make sure that young girls first receive a decent level of basic education before starting to create their own income. As for women artisans who are breast-feeding mothers, we arrange for their job to be completely home based, as to guarantee them the freedom to take good care of their baby in their familiar domestic surroundings.
In our social development workshops, the focus often lies on children and their needs. Hence, we offer on a regular basis many activities that are not only fun for the kids, but also help them develop their social, motoric and cognitive skills. This kind of activities is part of a program accompanying our regular education programs, be they for little ones in their early childhood or for older kids or teenagers.
Principle Six: Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
Let us say that this principle of Fair Trade is the reason why WEAVE came into being in the first place. We believe that women have the same rights as men do, in any aspect of life. In our fight for gender equity we mainly concentrate on the sector of education and women’s right to work and thus create a livelihood for themselves and their families. In working with our WEAVE women artisans, we strive for the economic empowerment of a disadvantaged minority group that is discriminated against on several grounds: both due to their gender and their ethnic origin.
Obviously, our commitment to gender equity and non-discrimination applies to our office staff members as well.
Beyond the goal of social and economic development pursued by the concrete WEAVE projects, the foundation has adopted the mission of furthering women’s power, rights, and opportunities by supporting women’s organizations associated with World Fair Trade Organization.
Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
Since Burmese refugees are not acknowledged as such in Thailand (please see the Background Information section (insert link here) for more detailed information), they are not legally entitled to public health care. That is why WEAVE provides them, in cooperation with …, with health care consisting in free access to the services offered by a hospital located inside the refugee camp. Furthermore, we provide our regularly employed quality controllers with standard financial contribution when they get sick or if a family member passes away.
As for our regularly employed staff, at WEAVE we grant them maternity leave, and breast-feeding is acknowledged and respected. Our employees are entitled to a group health insurance and benefit from medical support, social security, saving schemes, and sick leave. Our office employees are furthermore guaranteed fix eight hour working days respecting all legal public holidays.
To raise awareness about health issues, we regularly run theme-based workshops both at the refugee camps and the remote hill tribe community villages where our WEAVE women artisans live.
Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
To empower our WEAVE women artisans WEAVE, we take a variety of different approaches, both on a theoretical and practical level. We provide them with workshops and coaching sessions on topics and skills essential for their economic self-reliance, such as accounting and bookkeeping, financial literacy, management, knowledge of the market, product quality etc. Their handicraft skills are furthered as well, through training sessions in product design and weaving, sewing and embroidering techniques. Moreover, WEAVE regularly runs workshops and activity events or discussions on women’s and children’s rights, Fair Trade principles and other similar topics essential for the empowerment of these disadvantaged marginalized communities.
By raising our women artisans’ awareness of their own and their children’s rights, by giving them the necessary education to acquire the basic skills required for running a small-scale business, and by providing them with the opportunity to create their own livelihood and hence apply their professional skills while becoming financially independent, WEAVE contributes to the process of women’s empowerment and their growing confidence.
Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
WEAVE is highly committed to the observation of the Ten Principles of Fair Trade as well as to their promotion with the public. We regularly participate in events of WFTO Asia, whose new President is WEAVE’s Executive Director Mitos Urgel. Our latest project is MADE 51, a Fair Trade project initiated by UNHCR for the promotion of handicraft articles produced by refugees according to their traditional handicraft techniques. To make sure our WEAVE women artisans understand and comply with the principles of Fair Trade as well, in our WFTO workshops held on a regular basis in their refugee camps or their hill tribe community villages, respectively, the Fair Trade principles are translated in Thai and Burmese for the members of the various ethnic groups.
Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
WEAVE has a strict Environment Protection Policy that provides a guideline for the re-use and recycling of raw materials as well as waste reduction, among others. We purchase our raw materials (thread, yarn) from the local commercial market and try to keep our level of environmental pollution at a minimum by natural dye of our fabrics. As for packaging, in our shops we only give away quality paper shopping bags made of recycled paper. With wholesale orders we try to keep plastic packaging to a minimum and dispatch our products by sea instead of airplane wherever possible.
All WEAVE products are sewed or embroidered manually, and our hand-woven fabrics are produced on a manual backstrap loom. Thus, in our supply chain, electricity consumption is restricted to the external production, i.e. to the production process of the raw materials such as threads and yarns purchased from our suppliers.