Awareness of Cultural Diversity and Fair Trade
European Voluntary Service (EVS) project hosted by Inizjamed and
HEI Ref. 2004-MT-3
August 04 - July 05 (Martin Schillig)
January 06 (Simona Lippi)
September 06 - June 07 (Nina Zita)
February 07 (Edouard Coudreau)
The project aims to promote cultural sustainability in Malta and in the Mediterranean and the ethical, educational and cultural richness of fair trade by designing and running concrete projects that are carried out in Malta among young people from various social and educational backgrounds and with the active participation of Refugees and asylum seekers, especially the young adults among them.
The project, “Fair SHARE - Awareness of Cultural Diversity and Fair Trade”, aims to promote cultural sustainability in Malta and in the Mediterranean and the ethical, educational and cultural richness of fair trade by designing and running concrete projects that are carried out in Malta among young people from various social and educational backgrounds and with the active participation of Refugees and asylum seekers, especially the young adults among them.
The coordination of various projects will depend upon the strengthening of networks that already exist between Inizjamed and other members of the Forum for Justice and Cooperation in Malta, and local and foreign NGOs promoting cultural and social sustainability in the Mediterranean region. The volunteer will work closely with young volunteers from Inizjamed, the volunteers of the local Fair Trade Cooperative and other Maltese NGOs to strengthen links and to coordinate the work on the projects. The process should lead to the drawing up of a number of proposals for the future.
The projects include artistic workshops with teenagers, especially those from difficult social and educational backgrounds, which aim to revitalize traditional culture in an entertaining way. However the project also encourages the volunteer and the participants in the workshops to share and exchange their cultures, because even if these do not seem to offer positive lifestyles an awareness of their shortcomings can serve as a springboard for healthier, wiser choices. The volunteer will also work on the organization of public fora and seminars that deal with culture and fair trade in Europe and the Mediterranean and promote the participation of young people in “culture planning” and alternative life styles that are both just and sustainable.
There is also a strong focus on issues related to “legal” and “illegal” immigration. “Fair SHARE” sees true cultural exchange as a way of promoting mutual understanding and collaboration. The presence of hundreds of immigrants in Malta has the potential to allow the Maltese to open up not only to the world and its cultures but also to pressing North-South issues that influence the everyday lives of people around the globe, even in Malta, whether they are aware of them or not.
“Fair SHARE” also includes active participation in the Earth Democracy seminars being organized by Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, possibly within the framework of the Youth programme. The volunteers will be able to have an important role both in the planning phase of the seminars in different localities of Malta together with Maltese youth and in the actual events. This will allow them to share important values with a large number of youth and children in the Maltese islands.
French volunteer Edouard Coudreau who lives in Paris arrived in Malta in February 2007 to start his work as an EVS voluneer with Inizjamed in its Fair SHARE project. The main aims of this project for European volunteers is to use Fair Trade as a medium for the promotion of cultural diversity and as a concrete healthy alternative to consumerism and the mentality of putting profit before people and the environment. This means that the volunteer will be required to immerse himself or herself in fair trade by taking part in initiatives that promote fair trade and projects that promote cultural diversity.
Edouard Coudreau had this to say about his voluntary work with Inizjamed: "I am really interested in the field of Fair Trade and development education. I have already worked in voluntary based organisations in France and abroad and I really wanted to have a longer experience. This experience will for sure reinforce my will to work on these issues and give me new perspectives on this large sector. I would be glad to share my experience on the field of Fair Trade and to learn from all the ongoing activities of the organisation."
Mr. Coudreau is the local coordinator of the STOPoverty campaign.
(The Times, 11 May 2007)
Development aid can make a real difference to the lives of the world's poorest people, which is why European governments have committed to allocate a percentage of their gross national income (GNI) to overseas development aid (ODA).
The government made a commitment when, as part of the EU10 that joined the bloc in 2004, it pledged to spend 0.17 per cent of GNI on aid by 2010 and 0.33 per cent by 2015.
The coordinator of the local STOPoverty campaign, Edouard Coudreau, said that, although figures show Malta is on track, "one is not in a position to ascertain if this is the case as no breakdown has been provided.
"Due to the lack of transparency, we cannot understand where Malta is really sending its aid money," he said adding that the money should be spent in developing countries.
Vince Caruana, a representative of the National Platform of Maltese NGDOs (non-governmental development organisations) added: "We have been telling the ministry that we are not satisfied with the lack of transparency and accountability... As private citizens we have a right to know how the money is being spent." [Read the article]
Swedish Volunteer Nina Zita for Fair SHARE project (2006)
Swedish volunteer Nina Zita will soon be in Malta to take up her post as EVS volunteer with Inizjamed in the Fair SHARE project funded by the EU's Youth programme. She studies at the School of Public Administration at the University of Gothenburg and is actively involved in campaigns in favour of social justice and fair trade. "When I found the Fair Share: Awareness of Cultural Diversity and Fair Trade project I thought this is really something for me!"
The “Fair SHARE - Awareness of Cultural Diversity and Fair Trade” project aims to promote cultural sustainability in Malta and in the Mediterranean and the ethical, educational and cultural richness of fair trade by designing and running concrete projects that are carried out in Malta among young people from various social and educational backgrounds and with the active participation of refugees and asylum seekers.
Nina Zita about the Fair SHARE project:
"I study at the School of Public Administration at the University of Gothenburg. My sending organisation is Internationella Arbetslag (IAL), Swedish branch of the international peace organisation Service Civil International (SCI). When I found the Fair Share: Awareness of Cultural Diversity and Fair Trade project I thought this is really something for me! I’m 24 years old and and I come from Sweden.
Through Fair SHARE I would like to spend more time discussing with people and holding workshops, to raise awareness among people and encourage them to be active citizens.
Malta seems to be a very nice and different place from Sweden. I am tempted by a culture with influences from many places. Small but very intense – it must be something special to live on an island and I am very curious about Malta.
I found the project description of Fair Share very interesting. To take action to create sustainable alternatives to consumerism and the mentality of putting profit before people and the environment appeals to me. I am active in a Sustainable development/Fair trade group at the Red Cross Youth in Gothenburg.
During 2004 I was coordinator and leader of an IAL exchange project focusing on the garment workers’ situation in Cambodia. The project was a cooperation with The Clean Clothes Campaign (www.cleanclothes.org), which aims to improve working conditions and support the empowerment of workers in the global garment industries. Together with two participants of the exchange I made a documentary film about the garment industry and the role of Swedish consumers. The film forms a basis for discussion and with it we want to raise awareness among consumers to act for a change.
To be a volunteer for Inizjamed would be a great chance for me. My prior experiences of fair trade, multicultural groups and holding workshops would be very useful. At the same time there will surely be new challenges and I have to show consideration for the specific situation on Malta. I am eager to learn from and work together with the volunteers from Inizjamed and other partner organisation. I have done some studies on the theory of organisations, and find it interesting how Inizjamed seems to be cooperating successfully with many other NGOs: it broadens perspectives.
In July 2006 I participated with the Red Cross Youth Fair trade group in an annual campaign in Gotland to educate and lobby for fair trade among leading figures of the political parties in Sweden and the media together with 30 youths from different Fair trade groups around Sweden."
Fri, December 8, 2006
Swede highlights plight of Cambodian garment workers
Twenty-five-year-old Swede Nina Zita is dedicating her energy to fighting the cause of Cambodian garment workers, who have to work 48 hours a week to earn $45 a month.
"If we, as consumers, demand better working conditions for these workers, we can help them. My friends in Cambodia, who struggle every day to live their daily life, give me the inspiration to keep on working," Ms Zita said in an interview.
She has been in Malta since the beginning of September on a 10-month exchange with the European Voluntary Service. During her stint in Malta, Ms Zita, who has co-produced a film on the Cambodian garment workers entitled Courageous Hearts Without Retreat, is working with [Inizjamed and] Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust.
Tomorrow, she will be addressing a seminar entitled "Caught In (Cotton) A Dirty Business" organised by the cooperative at St James Cavalier between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. as part of the Taste The World Campaign. Her film will also be shown at the seminar.
Ms Zita first went to Cambodia in 2002 on an exchange visit. It was there that she was able to witness first hand the plight of the world's poor.
She realised how lucky she was to have been born in Sweden and on her return home joined a peace organisation.
One day, a journalist working on a story regarding exploited garment workers asked for the organisation's help to raise awareness.
Inspired by her first youth exchange, Ms Zita organised a youth exchange pairing Swedes and Cambodians. The aim was to give Swedes an idea of what it means to be a garment worker in Cambodia and connect the Swedish consumers to the Cambodian producers.
This exchange, which took place in summer 2004, was funded by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency.
In Cambodia, the Swedes could meet and interview the garment workers. And the film, which had not been planned, was produced.
Ms Zita said that during this visit to Cambodia, which included trips to factories, she was overwhelmed by the noise of hundreds of sewing machines working at the same time, as well as the smell and dust inside the factories.
Ironically, however, these jobs are often the only opportunity for Cambodians aged between 18 and 25 to earn some money, as they would otherwise have ended up planting rice in the countryside. Yet once they paid their rent, water, electricity and food, all that remained of their wage was less than half a dollar.
These employees were forced to work overtime by their employer so they ended up working at least 10 hours a day, seven days a week. This was akin to slavery, Ms Zita said.
When it was the Cambodians' turn to visit Sweden, they were taken to the shops which sold their clothing, and one of them recognised one of the trousers sewn at her factory from the code. She was shocked at its selling price which was more than her monthly salary.
Ms Zita's intention is to raise awareness and urge producers to pay better salaries and respect basic human rights.
However, finding a solution is difficult, because if the Cambodians are paid better wages, their business would go elsewhere to cheaper destinations.
"But should companies be allowed to continue making the huge profits they are making when so many people are suffering?" Ms Zita asked.
"If we, as consumers, demand better working conditions for these people, we will get them."
Moreover, the role of governments should be to represent their people and not to allow their abuse.
Ms Zita has been showing her film at schools and non-governmental organisations in Malta and Gozo.
|Government expenditure could be blind to child labour|
by Nina Zita
(The Malta Independent, June 9, 2007)
As the largest buyer in the country, the
government wields considerable financial power in its procurement of public
goods and services. Over the past three years it undertook some Lm50 million
worth of contracts for each year. Until today no social or ethical criteria
have been included in public procurement policies. This means that there are
no guarantees that the Maltese people’s tax money is not spent on activities
that use child labour or exploit workers by, for example, not paying
Simona Lippi starts work with Inizjamed
Simona Lippi, an Italian volunteer supported by the organization Enaip Lucca onlus, will arrive in Malta in January 2006 to work as a volunteer with Inizjamed and Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust in the context of the "Fair SHARE" European Voluntary Service project supported by the Youth programme of the EU.
Simona brings with her many important experiences in the cultural and social fields. She has taken part in several intercultural exchanges in different countries and she is eager to get to know more about the Maltese Islands and their cultures.
She has been studying the environment and sustainability for many years. She loves the nature and traditions of different countries and she has been taking part in festivals of traditional music and dance in the south of Italy for 6 years. She graduated in Natural Science with maximum marks a few months ago and her last work at university was an Ethnobotanical search. (She studied rural traditions in a small village in Tuscany.)
She has also done vocational training with an major Italian NGO in Florence, COSPE, that works in the South, and she focused on women’s rights and the situation in South America.
Simona is a member of a women’s association that works with Italian women with difficulty and fights for women’s rights. This association also runs a project with Afghan women and helps them build schools and promote their own education. But she is also involved in an association that works in the area of fair trade. The association has a shop that sells fair traded products and takes part in different events, like intercultural dinners and marches, similar to those organized by Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust in Malta.
So they may truly be equal
One would think that in today's world men and women are equal, at least in the EU. But, are they or is this just wishful thinking? Claudia Calleja speaks to Simona Lippi, a young Italian who has been working with women in her homeland for several years and is now undertaking voluntary work in Malta.
Equality between men and women is a goal that countries in the European Union have committed themselves to, yet gender gaps persist.
Women have to empower themselves and it is up to them to understand that there exists social discrimination, clearly manifested in the labour market, that has to be fought.
But the way Ms Lippi sees it, no matter how much women fight for equality or demonstrate a will to work hard, they can only succeed if they are supported by their government and if certain stereotypical mentalities are changed. And this can only happen if women carry on fighting for their rights and against all forms of discrimination, constantly and with determination.
On arriving in Malta, one of the things Ms Lippi noticed was that, unlike in Italy, there is no Equal Opportunities Ministry here.
"Although this ministry in Italy does not have funds allocated to it, it carries out crucial work such as the formulation of legislation, it offers support to women's cooperatives, organises courses for women and, most importantly, takes its findings and proposals to other ministries. This way the government has a clearer picture of the issues faced by women.
"In Malta issues surrounding women fall under the Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity which, to me, suggests that problems faced by women are perceived from the family perspective and not from the angle of women as individuals," she added as she stressed that issues faced by women are very specific and need to be tackled as such.
Speaking to Ms Lippi it became clear that the young Tuscan's concern for women and their rights was not just restricted to Italy but extended to the four corners of the world.
After working at Casa Delle Donne, a home for women, for several years, Ms Lippi came to Malta to do eight months of voluntary work through an EU programme.
She chose to work with Inizjamed as she is very interested in fair trade, especially as such trade helps empower women in developing countries who would otherwise be exploited.
Ms Lippi explains that apart from offering moral and legal support to women who fall victim to extreme injustice, such as domestic violence and prostitution, Casa Delle Donne provides a space where women unite and discuss problems in an attempt to overcome the main obstacles faced by working women, mainly glass ceilings and pay gaps - problems also common in Malta.
Quoting recent statistics about women and employment in the 25 EU member states she noted that figures show that women are more likely to be unemployed than men.
Figures released by Eurostat earlier this year show that the percentage of the working age population was lower for women than men in all member states. The female employment rate was the highest in Denmark and Sweden (both at 71 per cent) and the lowest in Italy (45 per cent) and Malta (34 per cent).
Ms Lippi was baffled by Malta's low employment rate for women as this contrasted sharply with the fact that the island has a high female percentage at university.
So, she said, Malta is in a situation where it is generating a rather high number of women graduates but does not have an equal amount entering the full-time job market. Clearly there is something wrong in this picture. But what?
The EU Report On Equality Between Men And Woman 2006 offers a possible answer to her question. The report says that the lack of work-life balance is often cited as a factor explaining the persistence of gender gaps in the labour market. In other words, women appear more affected by the tensions arising when trying to combine participation in the labour market with private responsibilities such as being mothers.
In almost all European countries, women with children register lower employment rates than those without. For the EU25, the employment rate falls from 75 per cent in the case of women without children to 61 per cent for women with children. Employment rates for men with children are higher (91 per cent) than among men without children (86 per cent).
Adding to this, Ms Lippi said that, as confirmed in the report, the pay gap between women and men across the EU25 remains at unacceptably high levels and shows no significant signs of narrowing.
On average, women earn 15 per cent less than men for every hour worked, she said. This results from both non-respect of equal pay legislation and also from a number of structural inequalities such as labour market segregation, differences in work patterns and pay systems and stereotypes.
Ms Lippi said there was a need to fight the mentality that there are certain professions that women just cannot do, and work to overcome the segregation of women in the labour market.
Such segregation was recognised in the EU report which noted that the main growth areas for female employment continues to be sectors where many women already worked such as education and health.
However, women score a low percentage rate in decision-making positions. In 2004 only 32 per cent of the managers in the EU25 were women. The highest rates were in Latvia (44 per cent) and Lithuania (45 per cent) and the lowest Malta (15 per cent) and Cyprus (14 per cent) -the last two countries are the only ones that did not have female members in the European Parliament, Ms Lippi added.
This is where Ms Lippi believes legislation can truly help. For example, the Equal Opportunities Ministry in Italy introduced quotas. "On one hand, I agree with it as it allows a woman to enter the field but, on the other hand, it feels like women are being patronised. The quota system may be the first step that may be accepted proved there is the mentality that one would not stop there," she said.
Although Maltese law does not impose quotas, the Equality Among Men And Women Act (2003) ensures that no person is discriminated against in employment on the basis of gender. Apart from that legislation, in 2004, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality Among Men and Women was set up and, through the years, social partners have undertaken several initiatives in the sphere.
"From what I read I can see things in Malta are changing quickly and in the right direction but, as the figures show, there is still work to be done to ensure that men and women are on an equal level at work."
She said that if governments wanted to strive towards gender equality in the work place - as they have committed themselves to do - they need to provide more incentives for women to re-enter the job market and ensure that supporting structures were truly in place.
This means making sure that legislation ensuring equality was in force and enforced and that accessible and reliable childcare facilities were provided, she said.
This article on The Times of Malta on Monday 10th July 2006
On Wednesday 8th March, the volunteers of the Maltese fair trade cooperative are promoting a series of small initiatives to highlight the advantages of fair trade for women in the Global South. The activities at the L-Arka Fair Trade Shop, 306, St. Paul Street, Valletta, will focus on “Empowering women to claim their rights through fair trade” and are being coordinated by Maltese and other European volunteers.
Two videos about how women are claiming their rights through fair trade will be shown during the day. And free leaflets will be distributed about how women are moving from marginalisation to empowerment through the fair trade network. As consumers, the general public can use its spending power to support women associations that are marginalised because of the current unfair world trading system. Shopping fair trade products is one way of doing so.
There will also be free sampling of fair trade products.
The world shop L-Arka is open between 9.00am and 1.00pm and between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.
Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade is more than just trading: it proves that greater justice in world trade is possible. It highlights the need for change in the rules and practice of conventional trade and shows how a successful business can also put people first.
Simona Lippi (EVS volunteer with Inizjamed)
Martin Schillig (in picture) got his degree in "Social Nurse" (Sozialpfleger) in 2002.
He has been working in the social service sector since the year 2000. During the training period he worked in a home for old people and also with an organisation which organises activities for people of all ages who have a disability.
From this work experience, he has gained a real exposure to the professional working environment and have worked with and learnt from qualified professionals, improving his skills. This has developed his capacity to think logically, quantitatively, and creatively and has also made me realise the importance of fully understanding the organisation requirements, good planning and teamwork, in order to give the patient the best service possible.
In 2002 he started a two year course to get his degree as a registered nurse for the mentally disabled persons (Heilerzieher). Here he is getting training while working in a school exclusively for children who have a difficulty to learn, i.e.; learning disabled children. This course will end in July of 2004.
Martin is genuinely enthusiastic to work with people from a foreign country in order to collect new experience. He can experience the difference in culture, interests, values, and also the way of living and thinking of other people.
He is very open-minded and is able to work individually or in within a team. He is also able to cope and work in stressful situations.
His mother tongue language is German; however he is able to talk fairly good English. He is also able to write and read in English.
In the recent past he was the leader of a youth group in the local church.
His hobbies are reading, cinema, art, theatre, culture and sports.