Uncovering the Gender Agenda - The Impacts of Fair Trade on Gender Relations in Chile
Neoliberalism has perpetuated social inequality on a global scale. Augusto Pinochet’s neoliberal experiment would have significant repercussions on Chilean society. The evolution of export agriculture propelled Chile to economic success; a pioneer for the Latin American region. Unfortunately, macroeconomic advancements did not correlate to improvements in social equality. Fair trade, an alternative economic model, emerged in response to these growing inequalities. The movement promotes a more equitable distribution of wealth, despite operating within the neoliberal economy. Furthermore, the movement represents a promise of improved livelihoods to the producers and communities which have been marginalised by the predominant neoliberal system. The application of fair trade across Latin America has been extensive. In response to increased consumer demands, the range and volume of fair trade initiatives has continued to flourish. Chilean fair trade has demonstrated incredible potential through promoting improvements in labour conditions and community development. Furthermore, the low numbers of fair trade participants have proven beneficial in minimising opportunities for corruption. However, a lack of awareness has remained the largest barrier to future fair trade expansion in Chile. One of the most significant, yet controversial consequences of the export evolution was the emergence of the temporera labour force. Despite associations with severe labour abuses, temporera employment has improved significantly over the past thirty years. The temporeras of El Palqui have attributed these remarkable improvements to increased government support and union representation. Unfortunately, gender inequality continues to plague Chile, both within agriculture and on a national scale. Fair trades clauses on gender equality have demonstrated incredible potential to influence and improve gender relations in Chile. Collaboration between fair trade, alternative ethical trading initiatives, civil society and government appears to be particularly promising. Cooperation between these institutions holds the potential to transform opportunities for female exploitation into opportunities for their empowerment.