Did you know that 30 million people are employed by the clothing and textile industries worldwide. Fifty four percent of these products are exported from Asia and forty-one percent are imported into the United States. This means that there is a whole lot of clothing that is imported into the United States from developing countries every year. Although you probably just assumed figures like this, you may not consider that your purchase decisions can and do have an impact on these 30 million people.
According to The End of Poverty by Penguin, as quoted in Where are you Wearing?, "Educating and employing women is one of the best ways to lift a society from poverty." These jobs become a way to lift developing countries out of poverty; however, sometimes because of little pay and poor working conditions many of these already vulnerable people become trapped in a cycle of exploitation.
This is why fair trade is so important...these jobs ARE important in the developing world, but it is also important for us consumers, a half a world away, to choose companies and products that will empower and educate their employees. "It is a powerful thing, our pocketbooks. We should use them wisely." (Timmerman, 118)
Sources: www.greenamerica.org, www.wfto.org, Where are you Wearing? by Timmerman.