Branding of an Ethical Development Narrative: Fair Trade, Gender, and Peru’s Café Femenino
Much of the support for Fair Trade rests on the expectation that it can promote development for some of the most marginalized Southern producers. Abiding by a number of “ethical” principles, Fair Trade relies on the language of ethics and development to present itself as an alternative to the conventional market, claiming to sell an ethical brand to spur economic and social development. Yet, Fair Trade has faced the need to rebrand its ethical development narrative by extending its ethical principles to include women’s development in order to address gender inequality within cooperatives. A notable response to the unequal distribution of the economic and social benefits of Fair Trade is evidenced in the formation of women-only Fair Trade coffee cooperatives, such as Peru’s Café Femenino. A much-celebrated women-only cooperative, Café Femenino’s focus on the gender dimension of social inequality has increased economic benefits for women. However, despite the incorporation of a robust women-only, local cooperative participatory governance model in conjunction with female land ownership, Fair Trade’s “ethical” market-based development principles still place substantial limitations on women’s development. In evading other important development preconditions, Fair Trade’s ethical development narrative and brand keeps not just women but all Southern producer communities vulnerable, reducing their development potential. This chapter points out some of the misconceptions encapsulated in Fair Trade’s ethical development narrative and brand. The Café Femenino coffee program is an ethical sourcing model committed to ending the cycle of poverty afflicting women coffee farmers across the world.
KeywordsFair Trade Coffee Gender Development Peru Ethical market Participation and governance
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