Fairtrade is about providing decent pay and working conditions for workers and farmers in low and middle income countries.  We’ve a rich history with Fairtrade, supporting the movement for 25 years later this year and, in 2017, committing to source 100% of cocoa in our own-brand products under Fairtrade terms. This brings in an additional £450,000 of Fairtrade Premium annually.

I had the privilege of travelling to the Cote D’Ivoire, one of the main countries we source cocoa from, to visit some of our Fairtrade producers. Together with Cathryn Higgs, Sarah Wakefield from my Food Policy team and Kerrie Vigars from Buying, I saw the difference Fairtrade can make to people’s lives.

In particular, I saw the difference it’s making to women. In Abengourou, Fairtrade Premium investment has enabled farmers to open a Women’s School of Leadership (WSOL) in partnership with Fairtrade Africa. In Cote D’Ivoire, many women face barriers becoming leaders, such as traditional, social and cultural norms around the roles of women in communities and limited access to information.

The WSOL empowers women by giving them the information, skills and mentorship they need to be leaders. With this training, women will gain power over their lives through empowerment to make decisions; they can control and manage resources, voluntarily taking up leadership roles in farmer organizations and their community. I was moved by one of the women I met who said ‘to educate a woman is to educate a nation’. I truly believe this to be the case.

I was so inspired by my trip and the difference we’re making to people’s lives with the simple choices you can make with the food you buy. This all links back into the Future of Food ambition we launched last year where we committed to giving a fair deal and resilient livelihoods to everyone in our supply chain.

This Fairtrade Fortnight we’re celebrating our Fairtrade heritage and, in particular, women in Fairtrade. Between 25 February – 10 March there are you so many ways you can get involved:

  • if you’ve ordered a celebration pack, make sure you take time to celebrate in your communities
  • make a pledge with us to try some Fairtrade swaps
  • join us on the 28 February in Atrium at One Angel Square
  • share the Fairtrade story on social media (remember to use #FairtradeFortnight)

Breige Donaghy
Director of Delicious Food