In current times almost all people in the world participate in one way or another in a global economy. Even though the global economy is a shared system, the underlying values of people throughout the world are not. Some people are set in their native culture and traditional value systems. Other people are drawn into the world where the accumulation of wealth equals power and opportunity. This division cannot be rationalized by the two diverse groups in the equation. The traditional group cannot fathom a world where wage labor is the means of existence as they see it as depersonalizing their souls. Those who crave the Western lifestyle see interdependent relationships as a means to justify the end.
In order for fair trade to be fair, people from both sides need to be actively involved. This does include an equal representation and say by the indigenous producers as well as the consumers and other producers. As a consumer, it is important to ask, even if one is a tourist buying one item on vacation, what matters to the indigenous producer? What is fair to that person? How much effort went into making this item? What knowledge is needed in this craft to create this item? It is a change from trying to get the best price for an item, something that is learned in Western culture (Lutz, 2005).
Within producer communities, women do have a small advantage when fair trade practices are attempting to be implemented. There is no country at this time that has a true free trade implementation that is completely successful. However, the divide between women and men does narrow among the indigenous people when fair trade practices are in one way or another being established. This being the case, even where there are tremendous disparities in wealth and power, free trade is making an attempt to narrow the divide and is considered to be a positive tool and a step in the development of equality (McArdle & Thomas, 2012). Perhaps the most powerful question that free trade has brought about is whether the indigenous people would be better off if they became more developed like those people living in Western society (Lutz, 2005)?
Lutz, E. L. (2005). Is fair trade fair? Cultural Survival Quarterly, 29, 5-5. Retrieved from
McArdle, L. & Thomas, P. (2012). Fair enough? Women and fair trade. Critical Perspectives
on International Business. 8(4), 277-294.