Fairtrade has long been a beacon of hope for women around the world by playing a crucial role in their economic and social empowerment. By ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and opportunities for leadership and decision-making, Fairtrade uplifts women, fostering gender equality and social justice. It has invested in projects that benefited women, such as education, healthcare, and skill development programs that contribute further to their wellbeing and independence.

Fairtrade NAPP celebrated International Women’s Day with the theme, “Inspire Inclusion: Invest in women: Accelerate progress” to honour the progress made and reflect on the work still to be done towards a more inclusive and equitable society. On the month of March, the Women’s month, various activities were conducted to highlight the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, while advocating for gender equality and women’s rights in the Philippines. Fairtrade International and Fairtrade NAPP are deeply committed to these goals. Their gender strategy aims to achieve gender equality and empower women within producer organizations by building their power and agency. Moreover, Fairtrade Standards are designed to prevent gender inequality, increase female participation and empower more women and girls to access the benefits of Fairtrade as its contribution to the SDG- Sustainable Development Goals. This commitment was evident during the Fairtrade NAPP Gender Strategy Consultation held on September 29-30, 2023. The consultation produced strategic gender development plans for each Small Producer Organization (SPO) that has been tailored to the country’s context.

For the sugarcane producer organizations in Negros Occidental, The Philippines, this year’s International Women’s Day has been celebrated by a week-long series of activities starting on March 1 to March 8. On March 3, an orientation on the history of International Women’s Day and its significant achievements. Similarly, 25 women and 3 men participated at Fairtrade’s Gender Strategy workshop from the organization, Mercedes Farmers Irrigators Association (MERFIA). In addition, a similar session has been conducted at Dama Farm Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (DAFWARBA) on March 5, where 20 women and 2 men participated. These orientations deepened the understanding and inspired action towards achieving Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. After a mutual discussion, the organization, Dama Farm Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (DAFWARBA) have been inspired to reactivate their women Committee, elected their officers and took oath during their woman’s day celebration at the forum on RA 62 92- Violence Against Women and Children. The resource person was invited from Barangay Cabacungan Kagawad and VAWC Desk Desiree Rito, while a guest speaker attended the Barangay Captain Marvin Escander. Meanwhile, the organization, Mercedes Farmers Irrigators Association (MERFIA), which missed their consultation, requested a separate session to develop their Gender Strategic Plan. In addition, PIBFA hosted a training session for 13 women members on value-adding techniques for banana balangon chips, turmeric, and ginger tea, conducted by Dolores Ceralbo.

“Women’s Month provides a platform to celebrate and honor the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and in contemporary times. It also serves as a source of inspiration and empowerment for women and girls. Highlighting the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds can instill confidence and encourage them to pursue their goals and aspirations, regardless of societal barriers. By recognizing the accomplishments of women and raising awareness of gender inequality, Its sparks conversations about the importance of equal rights, opportunities, and representation for women in all aspects of society. Women’s Month plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity, diversity, and gender equality, fostering a more equitable and just society for all genders.” – Joan F. Mirallas, Dama Farm Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association.

On March 8, 100 women from six Fairtrade-certified organizations joined a public demonstration in Bacolod City in partnership with Partidong Manggagawa and Negros Workers Development Centre. This demonstration aims to support women’s empowerment and resist the Charter Change, which they believe benefits only large companies and political elites.

On 23rd March, the celebration of Women’s Month featured various activities, including a fun run, Zumba dance, orientations on women’s rights and violence against women and children, and free makeovers to promote good hygiene. The newly elected officers of the DAFWARBA Women’s group also took their oaths during this event.

The impact of the Women’s Month has been profound. By challenging outdated gender norms and promoting inclusive representations of women, these activities contribute to long-term systemic change in the following ways-

Increased Awareness

The initiatives during the Women’s Month served as a crucial platform to highlight the achievements, contributions, and challenges faced by women and girls. Through educational campaigns, events, and media coverage. Hence, it fosters a deeper understanding of gender inequality and underscores the importance of promoting gender equality.


The initiatives during the Women’s month empower women and girls of Fairtrade Producer organization by offering opportunities for skill-building, leadership development, and personal growth. Workshops, mentorship programs, and networking events enables women to gain confidence, build networks, and pursue their goals with increased determination.

Policy Changes.

It acts as a catalyst for advocating policy changes that promote gender equality and protect women’s rights. Through lobbying, public awareness campaigns, and grassroots mobilization, advocates have been pushing for legislative reforms in areas such as equal pay, reproductive rights, and protection against violence.

Community Building.

Events and activities during the Women’s Month fostered a sense of community and solidarity among women from diverse backgrounds. By sharing their stories, experiences, and expertise, women strengthen social bonds, promote collaboration, and create spaces for mutual support and empowerment.

Cultural Shift.

The Women’s month contributed to shifting cultural attitudes and norms regarding gender roles and stereotypes. Through art exhibitions, film screenings, and cultural performances, it challenges outdated perceptions of women’s capabilities and promotes more inclusive representations of women in society.

While Women’s Month is primarily celebrated in March, its impact extends far beyond a single month. Women’s Month serves as a platform for ongoing advocacy, education, and action, laying the groundwork for a future where gender equality is not just a goal but a reality. Through the collective efforts of individuals, organizations, and communities, we can make significant strides towards empowering women and creating a more just and equitable world.

“We celebrate International Women’s Day, so that everybody will remember International Women’s Day since 1908-1909, from other countries and until here in the Philippines. Women should be brave and empowered and has its own decision for herself and should fight for it so that we will be equal with men. I am the Secretary and Head of the Women’s Committee of our organization MERFIA. Fairtrade Premium is a big help to our organization especially in the construction of our Multi-purpose Center. I encourage women to put forward the empowerment of women. We women should be equally treated with men.” – Cecilia Tagubader, Mercedes Farmers Irrigators Association (MERFIA).

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