Fair trade is a movement of individuals and organizations to ensure that people in poor countries are paid a fair wage for their products. Working conditions also must adhere to basic human and labor rights- no child labor, safe conditions, etc. Fair trade certified means that the product was deemed by a third party to meet the standards for fair trade, and meet the social and environmental standards in their operations.
Unrefined shea butter is an important resource in African communities as a way to empower and support women and their families. Shea butter has traditionally been made by women. While the women often gathered the nuts and made the shea butter individually, they would often come together as a group to take their shea butter to the market and sell. The tradition of how to extract the shea butter from the nut is often passed down from the women to their daughters.
It is important to buy Shea butter that has been certified as Fair Trade as it means the women are being paid fair wages and have safe working environments. It is estimated that it can take 20 to 30 hours of labor to produce 1 kilogram of shea butter which is only traded at $1 in today’s markets. This means the woman who works 30 hours in one week would only get a fraction of that dollar which does not even come close to reaching a living wage.