Campaigning and protesting
Monday, 27 February 2017 | Joanna
The annual arrival of Fairtrade Fortnight is a great way to focus campaigning into a coherent message. The start of 2017 has been punctuated with protests, demonstrations, petitions and campaigns all trying to preserve the progress of liberal democracy and understanding between nations and peoples. Some of those on the demos were seasoned campaigners, others were so shocked at recent events that they attended their first ever demo.
Alongside the upswell in protests we have seen an increase in cynicism from people who don't believe that protesting and campaigning changes anything.
A recent episode of BBC TV's Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Sir Ian McKellen showed him discovering the story of his great-great grandfather who successfully campaigned in the nineteenth century for the introduction of a half day off on Saturdays. Nowadays we routinely expect a two day weekend and a 38 hour week but we forget that these rights have been won, and they have been won by campaigners who spoke up, demonstrated, protested and convinced reluctant employers that the way they had been used to working was unacceptable.
Trade remains stacked in favour of those with the money - bosses and employers, multinational companies sourcing goods produced in the global south. But by refusing to give in to those who say "This is how it has always been and it's how it will always be" campaigners for a fairer global trading system can make gains in working conditions across the world.
Fairtrade has taken less than twenty years to progress from the preserve of a few small church stalls to a strong presence in both supermarkets and high street cafes. The impact has already been incredible and although there will be setbacks and disappointments the direction of travel is inexorably towards an understanding that ethical considerations as well as price and quality need to be part of how we shop.
So we will keep campaigning, keep sharing stories and keep trying our best to be the change we want to see in the world. We hope you'll join us.