Women's Empowerment in Action: Fair Trade in Nepal
An Interview with Aid Through Trade
Nepal is a breathtaking country with magical people and we are proud to be partnered with Aid Through Trade, who is empowering women and providing them and their children with opportunities through Fair Trade jobs. Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia located mainly in the Himalayas but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plains, it also has the worlds densest concentration of World Heritage sites. Aid Through Trade's Roll On Friendship Bracelets are handmade in these culturally filled beautiful lands are loved around the globe.
We interviewed Ashley Glenn Miller the Chief Operating Officer to learn more:
What inspired Aid Through Trade to begin?
Aid Through Trade has its roots in the Peace Corps when in 1993 Damian Jones was in Nepal as a volunteer primary school teacher in a very remote village in Southwest Nepal. A firm believer in education, he observed and was surprised by the effect that economic activity had towards women’s empowerment. When he visited artisans in the East of Nepal he found one woman who no longer ate off of her husband’s used plate but got her own clean plate because she had to make it to “the office” on time. Women's empowerment, that would have taken decades to achieve if she were not working, was happening because she had a career. Jones observed that foreign aid seemed to lead to corruption and did not seem to benefit the poor. He questioned, "How about a socially responsible trade instead of aid?" So began Aid through Trade.
What would you like people to know about Fair Trade products?
Behind the product is the artisan, of course. But behind her, is a family.
How have your artisans benefited from Fair Trade?
Currently, 100% of our artisans send their kids to school! More than 80% of our artisans put some of their earnings into savings!
What community impact has Aid Through Trade made?
We just conceived, coordinated, and funded the shooting of a film on gender-based domestic violence in the village. About 25 artisans who never dreamed of being in a film, or learning how to do a traditional dance (it’s in the film) just did so in May 2018. It might take a year to edit and do the sound. So stay tuned for this power educational film.
What is one thing you want people to know about Aid Through Trade?
We work in three remote villages where there is no equivalent opportunity for women to earn a living without traveling far away from home. They love Aid Through Trade and we love them.
What is unique about your crafts and artisans?
The village artisans are about 400 Km southwest of Kathmandu and are members of the Tharu ethnic group. They are the indigenous inhabitants of the once Malaria infested southern flatlands of Nepal. They have some sort of non sickle cell genetic resistance to Malaria. They work together, not alone at home, and laugh and talk while they work. All our jewelry is designed by US designers, in cooperation with our artisans in Nepal.
Why should people who love traveling be especially interested in Aid Through Trade?
If you love traveling, you may think of Himalayan mountains when you think of Nepal. You may think of Sherpa. But remember also Buddha was born in Nepal and just three hours (by bus) west of where Buddha was born, are the Aid Through Trade artisans. Some local Tharu insist that Buddha was also Tharu. Maybe some of Buddha’s descendants (or relative descendants) are making your bracelets? Who knows…
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
The Original Roll-On® Bracelet lasts a lifetime… just like the impact we have made and promise to continue to make in Nepal.