Insights to the Consequences of Fair Trade from an All-female Coffee Cooperative
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To date, social scientists, international aid organizations, and fair trade organizations have conducted extensive research concerning the experiences of fair trade producers. However, there is relatively little research available regarding producers’ experiences in all-female, fair trade cooperatives. This project focuses specifically on Nicaraguan female coffee producers who are members of an all-female, fair trade cooperative associated with the Nicaraguan NGO, Cooperativa Femenina. The purpose of this project is to learn more about the producers’ experiences with the Fair Trade network and with their cooperatives, especially with regards to democratic participation, producer empowerment and equity of opportunity within the organizational structure. Data was collected over a one-week period by means of interviews via an English-Spanish translator. The results of the qualitative analysis of this data revealed a positive association between the producers’ social empowerment and their active participation in their cooperatives. Furthermore, the cooperative’s supportive, gender-centered organizational framework provided a safe environment for the women to challenge patriarchal social norms related to decision-making and leadership. A better understanding of female agricultural producers’ fair trade and cooperative experiences may enhance the efficiency and overall success of development efforts that aim to improve the quality of life of poor, rural women.