Celebrating Isabel Uriarte, A Fair Trade Hero
Guest Post from Sasha Schmitz, Public Relations & Communications Intern
Today’s post comes to us from Sasha Schmitz, Public Relations and Communications Intern at Fair Trade USA. Read on to hear about how one women serves as an inspiration for us here at Fair Trade USA and beyond.
Mother’s Day is a time to cherish the amazing women and mothers in our lives. Here at Fair Trade USA we are paying tribute to all the women who help make fair trade possible; the exceptional women who are not only a mother or a grandmother, but also an inspiration to farmers worldwide. Isabel Uriarte for example, is a hero for the women (and men) of her CECANOR cooperative in the rolling hills of Northeastern Peru and as the leader of Café Femenino, a female coffee growing group. We were lucky enough to speak with her about her role in CECANOR and the women’s programs she has pioneered.
For more than twenty years, Isabel has been working with farmers and rural communities by helping them strengthen their organizations, combat debt and poverty and empower the amazing women farmers of Peru. Today, women coffee producers make up 30 percent of the world’s 25 million coffee growers. And yet they often have no rights, make little or no income, experience terrible domestic and workplace abuse, and are forced further into poverty. Isabel Uriarte has been a beacon of hope for rural farmers, changing this troubling reality for many women in Peru.
Isabel is a founder and one of the 1,458 members of the CECANOR cooperative. After earning the Fair Trade certification, the cooperative gained access to international markets, better prices and wages and the protections of Fair Trade standards. By selling directly to markets, Isabel and other farmers make more income which keeps them from falling into a cycle of poverty and debt. Not only has the cooperative focused heavily on community development and environmental sustainability, they are the first group to participate in the Café Femenino program. Café Femenino programs empower the women coffee farmers of the community, letting them grow and sell their coffee separately from men. Not only is this a first, Isabel also says the coffee grown by women tastes better!
Isabel with the women of Café Femenino – the all womens coffee growing group.
“Now this program is enabling us to look holistically at the coffee farming family’s problems and we are approaching the issues of food security, health, education and women’s empowerment.” - Isabel
Through Isabel’s leadership, CECANOR has developed wonderful assistance programs. Health, education and tech assistance projects all benefit the female farmers and their families through introducing new farming techniques, providing health screenings, sex-education campaigns in rural schools, and improving the productivity of credit programs.
Isabel teaches the women and their families about proper nutrition, food and health safety.
Isabel is an inspiration to Latin American farmers and us at Fair Trade USA. She was part of the first organization to export organic certified coffee in the Peruvian Northeast and in 2000 she sought Fair Trade certification for CECANOR. Since then producers have never received a price below $100-$137 per 100 lbs. “We are making a difference,” she says.
So, as you think about how you will celebrate your mom in the next few weeks, take a moment and let yourself be inspired by Isabel, a woman we here at Fair Trade USA tip our hats to. She is an amazing lady, empowering us and women worldwide.