(Map courtesy of Engender International.)
[R]ecently launched nonprofit Engender International aims to solve global gender inequality through consumer choice. The organization seeks a more peaceful, prosperous, and creative future for all by supporting women’s equal access to economic resources.
Based in Seattle, Washington, the nonprofit will focus on the GETT (Gender Equity Through Trade) Certification program. GETT certification identifies consumer goods companies that properly compensate women working in their supply chain, focusing on companies producing agricultural, food, and textile products. Certified companies can use a seal on products and in marketing material to help consumers know how to support gender equity through their purchases.
Engender International was cofounded by Pete Bjordahl and Erin Williamson. Williamson is a coffee industry veteran and owner of Pier Coffee; her firsthand experience witnessing the disparity between her own earning potential and that of other women along the coffee supply chain helped inspire the launch of Engender International.
“I started Pier Coffee in my laundry room. But, as a single mom, the ability to start and grow a business was transformative,” Williamson says. “Not only did Pier Coffee help provide for my family, it provided me with a sense of confidence about the future.”
Williamson says Engender International aims to help women be paid for work they already do. Many women work on behalf of their families or don’t have bank accounts, so one of the many challenges in ensuring equality is establishing a more formal system to track women’s earnings. Other challenges include explicit laws, lack of legal protections, and several customs that impact women’s equal economic access.
“I know that access to economic resources was key to my better future,” Williamson says. “I believe that women’s access to economic resources is the key to a better future for us all.”
—Ellie Bradley is Fresh Cup’s editor.