Fair Trade An Analysis of the Effects on Poverty Alleviation and Empowerment for Women in Developing Countries

Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

David Earnest

Committee Member

Francis Adams

Committee Member

Anita Fellman

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.I45 L67 2013


This thesis approaches the economic development model of Fair Trade with a critical analysis on determining its success in alleviating poverty and empowering women of the developing world. Because international labor regulations are not consistently enforced in all producer countries, the Fair Trade model has established labor standards that ensure above all, a fair wage and safe working conditions for producers participating in the international market. As a recent strategy of economic development, Fair Trade has made great strides to empower poor producers in impoverished countries; however there has been limited analysis focused on its impact for improving the quality of life for women producers. Women involved in the handcraft industry are of particular importance since this type of labor allows for the flexibility needed for them to meet the demands of their dual roles at home and in the labor force. This is accomplished in a two-fold process; the first step is outlining the intended benefits of Fair Trade pertaining to women's lives in theory; and the second step is testing these benefits in practice by examining cases of both success and failure. As a result, Fair Trade proves to be successful in certain aspects, such as an increase in market access; however, there are major gaps in the current model that ignore crucial challenges affecting impoverished women in the developing world. Therefore, a clear conclusion is difficult to be decided upon, which requires further research.


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