The First Fair Trade Tour of Palestine May 2018

July 26, 2018
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(Picture: Delegates were invited to wear the traditional dress of Palestine)

By Carol Wills

In early May 2018, Elizabeth Laskar and I joined the first ever Fair Trade Tour of Palestine, culminating in the celebration of World Fair Trade Day at the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre on Saturday 12 May.

We saw how Fair Trade enterprises support Palestinian traditional culture, preserve traditional crafts and provide thousands of farmers and other producers, many of them women working from home,  with a much needed income and with hope that a better life is possible.

Our tour took place in the West Bank (also known as the Occupied Territories) where Palestinian Fair Trade producers live and work in extremely difficult circumstances under a military occupation that has gone on for over 50 years.  Alongside our Fair Trade visits we heard many heart breaking stories of people who had lost loved ones and suffered injustices. On top of this, the economic situation is harsh and unemployment is high.

Nevertheless, we were made hugely welcome wherever we went, drinking little cups of mint tea and very strong black coffee and eating enormous quantities of local couscous, hummus and tomato, cucumber and mint salad.  Our tour started at Canaan Fair Trade which produces the olive oil sold by Zaytoun and where we enjoyed an olive oil tasting before touring the impressive facility.  It is a cooperative of more than 2000 olive farmers.

At the Palestinian Agricultural Research Centre in Jericho, a member of the WFTO, we saw how grapes are dried to produce Fair Trade sultanas and raisins and met a group of women rolling couscous by hand.  The Women of Hebron Cooperative Association produces fine, traditional embroidery and backstrap loom woven wool carpets.  Most women work from home but come to the Centre with their work, to attend meetings, take part in decision-making and have the chance to gossip.   Men work at the Hebron glass and ceramic factory nearby, where Traidcraft places orders.

In Jerusalem we visited Sunbula Fair Trade, also a WFTO member, working to bring fresh designs and colour to traditional embroidery  and providing an income to several thousand women.  Sunbula means “spike of wheat” in Arabic (i.e. the flower that makes bread) and Sunbula’s mission is  to provide its producers with the gift of a more dignified life.

Finally we reached Bethlehem and the Holyland Handicraft Cooperative  Society where we saw some fine olive wood carving in their magnificent shop by the Field where the shepherds watched their flocks by night not far from the appalling wall where Banksy has his Walled Off Hotel.

On World Fair Trade Day we donned traditional Palestinian dress to celebrate at the University.

We came home convinced that if Palestinians are going to have any chance of a sustainable future at all, we must tell their stories and buy their products.

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18 June 2018 – Consultation lunch meeting meeting for prospective, new and returning members

May 24, 2018

Consultation lunch meeting for prospective, new and returning members
Date: Monday 18th June
Time: 12.00-14.00
Venue: Common Ground 37-38 Little Clarendon St, Oxford OX1 2HU

Come along to hear what the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition can do for you, your fair trade business or organisation – and let us know what you would like from us. Find out how you can be part of the great fair trade debate and help to sustain the growing movement of treating trade as a way of benefiting everybody rather than just a few shareholders.

Whether you are a lapsed member or have never been part of OFTC before, we think you will be inspired and enthused by our new member offer. These include:

  • Opportunity to showcase your business or organisation at One World Fair on November 3rd – this year with a stronger emphasis on fair trade, with talks, fashion show, food stalls – promoted city-wide by Oxford City Council.
  • Quarterly meetings now alternate between evenings and daytime and are held mainly at the lively, inviting Oxford Hub above Turl Street Kitchen, where you will get your first drink free.
  • Being promoted by Oxford City Council and through OFTCs growing social media base – website, Facebook, Twitter etc and be part of joint publications promoting fair trade in Oxford
  • A chance to be part of the wider international debate on fair and ethical trade – for example by getting early alerts about our events, featuring high profile, expert speakers and being invited to make your voice heard in advocacy campaigns
  • Having a line of communication to Oxford City Council about the needs and concerns of fair trade businesses and organisations in the city
  • …and lots more!

We very much look forward to seeing you and hearing YOUR ideas about how Oxford Fair Trade can help you – and vice versa.

A light lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP chairoftc@gmail.com

Common Ground is a café and free social workspace with really great tea and coffee and a friendly warm welcome. It also has games, group meetings and classes, such as yoga.

All the best
Sabita
Chair OFTC
Email: chairoftc@gmail.com


Fashion Revolution! Lord Mayor Cllr. Jean Fooks invites the city of Oxford to ask “Who made my clothes?” 26 April 6pm Oxford Town Hall – All invited

April 25, 2018

Ox FRev Lord Mayor


Fashion Revolution Week 23rd – 29th April

April 23, 2018

On the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013, “Fashion Revolution” encourage millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.

The more people who ask #whomademyclothes, the more brands will listen.

Use your voice and your power to change the fashion industry.  Together we are stronger.

Please do join us at the events in Oxford listed below as we raise awareness about Fair Trade within the industry.  Booking recommended for both film showings.

Film showing at Brookes visit Booking and information

For more information and resources (posters, templates of letters that you can send to your favorite brand, ideas and facts) or to put on your own event during Fashion Revolution week please click on this link Fashion Revolution

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Oxford Fair Trade Coalition – Womens Voices in Fair Trade

February 19, 2018

Exploring gender and fair trade  – What influences women to take action and have a lasting impact?
A short documentary will be followed by a panel discussion

Tuesday 6 March 2018
7pm – 9pm

Christ Church College
The Undercroft Bar
St Aldates .  Oxford  . OX1 1DP
Free event

An evening exploring gender, fair trade and the ‘tipping point’ – what influences women to take action and have a lasting impact in the fair trade movement.

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Gender and Fair Trade: The Story of Women Cocoa Farmers in Fair Trade
This short film produced by Dr Roy Maconachie from Bath University at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) highlights the impacts of Fairtrade for female cocoa-producers in Ghana and illustrates the significant challenges which remain in promoting greater gender equality in agriculture.

Kwame Banson, Member and Partnership Manager of Fairtrade Africa who is featured in the film, adds: “One of the recurring, important themes in Fairtrade when we try to measure impact is to look at the issue of gender to ensure that women and men get equality in responsibilities and in the sharing of benefits.”

Evening Panel will include: Jamie Hartzell, currently chair of the leading Fairtrade chocolate company Divine, which is 44% owned by Kuapa Kokoo, a Ghanaian cocoa farmers co-operative. Rachel Wilshaw, the Ethical Trade Manager for Oxfam GB. Her role involves advocacy and advice to companies on best practice in relation to labour rights in global supply chains.  David Finlay Programme Partnerships Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation where he works in partnership with international Fairtrade networks.  The discussion will be chaired by Oxford Fair Trade Coalition Chair, Sabita Banerji.

Free Event 
Light refreshments sponsored by Lady Margaret Hall and Christ Church College (Fair Trade Colleges and Members of the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition).  Special thanks to our venue sponsor Christ Church College.

Please do come along on the night.  You can also register
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-voices-in-fair-trade-tickets-39006843519


Fairtrade Sale 3rd March Jericho Community Centre 3pm – 5.30pm

February 17, 2018

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Monday 9th Feb Oxford Town Hall 6pm – Help shape the Oxford Fairtrade Coalition strategy

February 4, 2018

Come and help shape Oxford Fair Trade Coalition’s strategy for 2018. Sabita Banerji will present our plans for the year. We would love to hear your thoughts, and if you have time, to get you involved!

OFTC was set up as a coalition of organisations promoting fair trade, and securing Oxford’s status as a Fairtrade City. The founding volunteers have maintained a steady programme of talks, exhibitions, campaigns and fashion shows etc to raise awareness of fair trade in Oxford.

But the world has changed since the early days. The initial ‘honeymoon period’ of the Fairtrade movement has started to fade. This is now a crowded market – other certification schemes purport to offer the same guarantees but with less stringent checks and at a lower price. And rapid developments in communications and data technology are opening up other opportunities for achieving Fairtrade’s original objectives.

At the same time consumers – or citizens as we prefer to call them – are more concerned about unethical trading practices than ever before. Large companies are now taking their ethical trade responsibilities more seriously, and there has been an upsurge of local, sustainable producers who do not formally come under the remit of Fairtrade but who share its ethos.

In this new more aware, and more crowded fair trade environment, the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition faces many challenges, but also new opportunities to put down deeper roots, reach out further and aim higher.

Fair Trade is more relevent than ever, and there is still so much to do!

So join us on the 5th February and help make it happen!

You can just turn up or register your interest here
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-open-discussion-on-shaping-oxford-fairtrade-coalitions-strategy-tickets-42315527883