Fair Trade and Justice: A Case Study of Fair Trade and its Effect on the Freedom of Bolivia’s Indigenous Women

  • Stenn T
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Abstract

Amartya Sen has written that for justice to be realized, freedom needs to be expanded. Fair Trade, a model of global trade that puts into motion billions of dollars, purports to promote justice, and therefore expands freedom. Fair Trade is a four-pillar structure comprised of institutions, producers, consumers, and government/policy. An economic, ethnographic study of Bolivia’s indigenous women working within the Fair Trade model for the past 15 years reported mixed results. The women questioned the justice of the model based on negative experiences induced by irregular work, stress, and unsupportive communities. At the same time, women acknowledged enhanced capabilities and opportunities emanating from skills development, empowerment, and income. Although it increased women’s freedom, there are ways in which Fair Trade could be made fairer through transparency, reciprocity, and public reasoning. This work is significant in the sense that it creates a new understanding of justice and trade that enables women’s voices to be heard.Amartya Sen ha planteado que para lograr justicia, se necesita expandir la libertad. El Comercio Justo, un modelo de comercio global que pone en movimiento miles de millones de dólares, pretende promover la justicia y, por consiguiente, expandir la libertad. El Comercio Justo es una estructura de cuatro pilares que comprende instituciones, productores, consumidores   y gobiernos/políticas gubernamentales. Un estudio económico y etnográfico de mujeres indígenas de Bolivia que han trabajado con este modelo de comercio los últimos 15 años reportó resultados muy diversos. Las mujeres cuestionaban la justicia de un modelo basado en experiencias negativas resultado del trabajo irregular, del estrés y de la falta de apoyo por parte de las comunidades. Al mismo tiempo, las mujeres reconocían mejoras en las capacidades y oportunidades que emanaban del desarrollo de habilidades, el empoderamiento y los ingresos. Aunque incrementó la libertad de las mujeres, hay maneras por las cuales el Comercio Justo podría llegar a ser más justo a través de transparencia, reciprocidad y razonamiento público. Este trabajo es importante en la medida que crea una nueva interpretación de la justicia y del comercio que permite escuchar la voz de las mujeres.

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APA

Stenn, T. (2015). Fair Trade and Justice: A Case Study of Fair Trade and its Effect on the Freedom of Bolivia’s Indigenous Women. Bolivian Studies Journal/Revista de Estudios Bolivianos, 20, 195–217. https://doi.org/10.5195/bsj.2014.100

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