When Fair Trade footballs first began production near Sialkot, the 'world capital of football production' in Pakistan, manufacturers moved the previously home-based stitching work into big factory units in order to prevent child labour. However this move effectively locked out women workers whose home duties meant they could not be away from home for the whole day, and who in an Islamic society could not work in the same room as men.
The suppliers of Etiko and Jinta sportballs pioneered a scheme where stitching has been returned to the workers' villages, organised into small work units with dedicated units for women.
The workers in these centres receive a substantially increased wage for all Fairtrade labelled balls, calculated to meet the basic needs of a family, allowing the children to go to school instead of having to work. Furthermore, a basic health scheme is provided for all those involved in production, and in order to reduce the dependency of the stitchers on export production, micro-credit schemes improve the village level economy and provide alternative or additional income opportunities.
To finance these changes, a Fairtrade premium is placed on the price of each ball. And as with all other products that carry the Fairtrade label, compliance with Fairtrade criteria is subject to constant independent monitoring, guaranteeing a better deal for all producers.
Sameena Nyaz lives in a village called Chak Gillan near Sialkot. Sameena is her father's fifth child: he runs the snack shop in the football stitching centre. She goes there to stitch footballs too: after home-based stitching stopped, the centre was one of the first where women could continue such work.
Sameena is one of 11 siblings; seven sisters, four brothers. Two of the older ones also stitch balls. Stitching wages are low - only Fairtade buyers pay enough to enable the three to provide their family with all the basic necessities. Sameena never had the chance to attend school - instead she has been contributing to the family income from early on, and has now been stitching for three years. The family has a small hut and a kitchen garden, in which everyone helps out.
Recently Sameena had to have a thyroid operation - the bandage on her neck is still visible in the photograph here. All costs were provided by the health care scheme made possible by the Fairtrade premium, a first for workers such as Sameena and her family.
All our Jinta sportsballs are hand stitched so you know they're going to last. Furthermore Jinta does not use PVC, the material used in cheaper sportsballs and one of the most toxic of plastics. Instead they use polyurethane and rubber, much more environmentally sound materials.
Finally, the purchase of Jinta sportsballs helps fund sports programs for young people on remote communities in the Northern Territory via a successful youth diversion and development program which has helped hundreds of children from Aboriginal communities. The young Aboriginal girl in the photo above is from Yuendumu, where the Mt Theo training program is based.
I can honestly say that the 'training' balls we purchased in February this year are not only still intact, but also show none of the tell-tale signs of their inferior competitors.
They're first rate... a good, solid, all round ball with superior deflation resistance.
if you've ever wrinkled a brow, wondering if your purchase of a sports ball was depriving a child of their education, now you know where to head next time a ball fetish comes over you.
I cannot do without your caring, enlightening publication.
A little about Asha Handicrafts: Asha Handicrafts provides the security of markets to small scale artisan workshops around India, like ANSA, the soapnut harvesters in Tamil Nadu.
New Internationalist Australia is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, which means we have to stock a percentage of Fair Trade products, and also adhere to Fair Trade practices ourselves. Great for supporting producers rights, and also for our staff.
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