Fair Trade Jewelry and Ethical Fashion

Helping Women With Disabilities Find Dignified Employment

by | Fashion as a Force for Good

Overcoming Discrimination in Kenya

Helping Women With Disabilities Find Dignified Employment – (Read Time : 4 min.)

Bordering the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Tanzania lies the East African country of Kenya. Her natural beauty and wildlife draw many tourists each year, but in the midst of this beauty, a large portion of the nearly 44 million residents live in extreme poverty. With few opportunities for income, violence, and a heavy decline in her once-bustling tourism have limited those opportunities even more.

Plagued with malnutrition and poor healthcare, mothers struggle with an unusually high rate of birth defects in a culture steeped with superstitious beliefs that disabilities are caused by witchcraft. Pressure to commit infanticide or abandon their disabled infants can be overwhelming, especially if their babies are little girls. We’re partnering to change that.

Hope in Kenya

Alice’s Story of Hope

Alice knows firsthand the struggles of disabled women in Kenya. Born a healthy little girl, her mother began to notice delays in her developmental milestones after her first birthday. At one-and-a half-years-old, Alice still could not walk and struggled to maintain a healthy weight. 

Alice, Differently Abled Jewelry Artisan in Kenya

Doctors discovered that brittle bone disease was causing her spine to curve, damaging her nerves and causing her to lose the use of her legs. As Alice grew, her challenges of overcoming her culture’s discrimination against women with disabilities grew as well.

When her disability prevented her from attending college, she faced an uncertain future.

“I was unhappy and discouraged as I did not know where my meal would come from.” – Alice

Now Alice feels hopeful she can be safe, secure, and have the chance to live a full life. The wheelchairs disabled Artisans receive provide mobility and independence.

“I feel free. I feel like a person!” – Alice, Artisan in Kenya

Unable to have children, crafting jewelry has enabled Alice to create a family of her own. As a Trades of Hope Artisan partner, she earns enough income to provide food, shelter, clothing, and education for herself, her adopted daughter, and orphaned niece. She even saves money and dreams of owning her own business one day.

Ethical Fashion and Fair Trade Make an Impact

Trades of Hope is a trusted leader in the Ethical Fashion and Fair Trade movements. Our Artisan partners work in safe, healthy environments and are paid enough wages to support themselves and their families. Workdays are limited to reasonable hours in order to allow Artisans time to spend with their families. Artisan families also receive holistic care including healthcare, education, and counseling when needed.

Trades of Hope partners with talented Artisans in Kenya by helping them sell their products made with local materials.

Their unique workshop provides job training and employment for 150 Artisans with physical disabilities, allowing them to earn an income for themselves and their families in a dignified way.

In addition to income, the artisans who create these products receive housing and education for their children.

Bombolulu Earrings from Kenya
Emily Earrings from Kenya

Alice’s Artisan group employs 37 disabled Artisans, impacting 37 families with over 100 children receiving an education as a direct result of Trades of Hope Artisan benefits. All 37 Artisans receive healthcare benefits, including the 20 artisans who only work part-time.

To many of the disabled women in Alice’s community, the greatest benefit of becoming a Trades of Hope Artisan partner is a new sense of purpose.

Purchasing Trades of Hope jewelry from Kenya makes a direct impact on the lives of women with disabilities in Alice’s community.

Statistics reveal that when one woman rises out of poverty, she takes four more people with her. Alice hopes to help other disabled women in her community become independent.

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1 Comment

  1. Susan OBryant

    What a wonderful program! I’m so glad to see this post! <3


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Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communications Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan advocacy.