As Mother’s Day  2011 rapidly approaches, we'd like to take a moment to think about all the ways the world is strengthened when women have equal rights, economic empowerment and opportunity for leadership. Whether it be through education, mirco-loans, business training or democratic participation, the women of Fair Trade are working hard to shake the branches of social change and break cycles of poverty – not only for themselves, but for their families and communities as well.
Almost two-thirds of women in the developing world work without labor rights and social protection. This is especially true in the coffee industry where cultural stigmas often limit the role of women in both business and the community.
Women coffee farmers often perform the most labor-intensive work without access to more skilled positions.
But in the Lambayeque region of Peru, a Fair Trade Certified cooperative is swimming against the tide and making positive changes to the way their organization does business. The women farmers of Central de Servicios Cafetaleros del Nor Orients  (CECANOR) wanted to be involved in all aspects of coffee production: coffee cupping, marketing, cooperative administration. More than ten years ago, they formed a partnership between three regional coffee cooperatives committed to revolutionizing their farming culture by giving its women workers the chance to be leaders. Café Femenino  is the result of these women's determination, as it became the first women-grown coffee brand ever to come out of Peru.
The success of the Café Femenino blend has elevated the status of its women members, helping them to fight against poverty and gender discrimination.
The women use earnings from Fair Trade coffee sales to provide micro-loans for women farmers wanting to buy equipment, purchase farmland, or get training. Cooperative member Juana Garcia, pictured at right, participated in coffee cupping training to improve her ability to monitor coffee taste and quality. Café Femenino is also improving the quality of life for its women members through health and nutrition education and social services for abused women.
Their story is a powerful one, but the women of CECANOR are not alone in their success.
There are more than 200,000 women working in Fair Trade cooperatives across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Fair Trade standards protect women farmers and workers with strict social and economic guidelines:
- Labor rights for all workers with special attention to the empowerment of women through training and capacity building.
- Equally shared decision-making power. Cooperatives are required to address minority population needs, with special attention to women.
- Standards for the health and safety of women, including a minimum maternity leave of eight weeks on full pay, exemption from work that could be a health hazard during pregnancy or while nursing, up to nine months of nursing time, and freedom from sexual harassment.
Click here  to learn more about the women of Fair Trade and the Fair Trade standards that empower and protect these mothers, daughters, sisters and friends that work so hard to bring us the products we love.