Mark your calendars! This weekend marks Austin’s very own 13th annual Women & Fair Trade Festival at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. The two day event is hosted by Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera, an Austin based organization that promotes fair trade practices and raising awareness regarding the social and economic injustices along the Texas-Mexico border which disproportionately affects women. The locally owned and operated vendors seek to empower women and strengthen communities not only socially but economically by creating fair trade opportunities for their work, and by extension creating better educational opportunities for them and their families.
Story by Imani Sebri
This year’s festival will showcase an array of talented local artists, musicians, cuisine and poetry. Hosting vendors from India, Palestine, Guatemala and Ethiopia, Women & Fair Trade seeks to empower women from different backgrounds and circumstances through small businesses. While you’re walking around enjoying warm, handmade tamales be sure to check out some of these vendors:
Women in Hebron is a Palestinian nonprofit collective which operates under the Idna Cooperative Association for Embroidery and Handicrafts. The crafts that are made by these women come from all over the region of Hebron. Their work not only showcases the rich Palestinian culture, but is also a testament to the strength and crucial role women play in region facing conflict. The organization is also a way for women to earn income that may not have been otherwise available for them. Despite this being a primarily economic endeavor, the women participating in this co-op find camaraderie and a strengthened community. Their work includes rugs, wallets, decorative items and traditional Palestinian Keffiyehs.
This cooperative is a group of 80 women who live in disenfranchised communities on the outskirts of Guatemala City. It’s focused on creating a collaborative, innovative space for women to foster connections with other women and provide a safe environment for them to work in. UPVIM empowers women through the production of a vast array of products, like jewelry and home decor, in order to fulfil their mission statement of providing more economic, educational, and social opportunities for the women of La Ezperanza.
An indigenous collective of female artisans from the Highlands region of Chiapas, Mexico; this co-op is comprised of about 250 women from surrounding municipalities. The rich culture and heritage of these Mayan women found an avenue through the hand weaved baskets they produce. In addition to creating an artistic space, Jolom Mayaetik also conducts workshops where they teach women the importance of accounting and other administrative skills.
Bringing the vibrancy of India to your doorstep, Marigold seeks to provide fair trade opportunities for Indian artisans. In addition to selling, Marigold also acts as a cultural hub as well, providing traditional musical acts and pilate classes as a way to maintain a close connection to its South Austin neighborhood.