Latest from the Global Seesaw Blog

Be Bold For Change

15/02/2017 14:29:00




This year for International Women's Day on March 8th we're being invited to - BE BOLD FOR CHANGE

International Women’s Day has become an opportunity to celebrate progress made towards equality for women across the globe. The Day is also an important reminder of the discrimination that women experience on a daily basis around the world, and the many campaigns which are actively promoting women’s interests.

Last year, organizations and individuals around the world supported the #PledgeForParity campaign and committed to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men's contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures. From awareness raising to concrete action, organizations rallied their people to pledge support to help forge gender parity on International Women’s Day (IWD) and beyond.

But the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. Around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.

Will you #BeBoldForChange on International Women's Day 2017 and beyond by taking groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women.

Each one of us - with women, men and non-binary people joining forces - can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

We have urgent work to do. Are you ready to #BeBoldForChange this IWD 2017 and beyond?

(source text: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Theme)



Happy Fair Trade Fortnight!

25/01/2017 15:46:00



How will you celebrate or promote Fair Trade Fortnight this year?

Not sure yet? Don't worry it's not until 27th Feb so you've got just under two weeks to work out what you'd like to do!

Check out the fairtrade foundations website for lots more resources and ideas or
If you'd like to freshen up your wardrobe with a new organic cotton fair trade tshirt check out our tees and scarves

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

18/01/2017 08:30:00

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January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.
Creating change is more than just believing, it's a doing. We are glad to announce that 15 NEW women have started their freedom journey with Freeset this week and we believe freedom will come to many more! It takes one to inspire, but a community to break the chains that tie others down.

“As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue their dreams. This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.”
-President Barack Obama 

 

13 New Graduates

11/01/2017 14:25:00

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HOORAY!!! 13 Freeset trainees graduated into production!
New year and new beginnings for these trainees!
CONGRATULATIONS!

Graduating is an important next step in the women's road to freedom.

Have you enjoyed the training programme?
“I loved the training programme. It has been my dream from when I was small to learn to do something with my hands, and now I can.”
“I enjoyed it. Now I can go back to my village and my children and say that I do good work and that I work for a good company.”
Have you had any problems, or anything you found hard?
“The most difficult thing was at the beginning of the training when I kept thinking, ‘can I do it? Can I do it?’ and I made lots of mistakes. There was one bag I found particularly hard, but now I have made two of them without any mistakes.”
What is the biggest difference in your life today, or the best thing about joining Freeset?
“The best thing about joining Freeset is that now I have respect in my village. Before people would tell my children that I worked in the line, but now no-one can say anything, and if they do, I can bring them here and show them that I work in a good place.”
“I was sold and kept in a locked room, and I was terrified. When I lied to my madam and escaped back to my family, they rejected me. Now I have peace about what happened to me, and I can hope for a restored relationship with my husband who left me and my mother-in-law.”

#Freeset #Freedom #FairTrade

Our Freedom Friends in Moldova…

27/10/2016 15:53:00

 
What is Art House - it is the place of opportunities, of second chance gift.

This workshop recently opened for the benefit of the women we help. It is the place where over 25 women, single mothers and girls from the integration program of 'Beginning Of Life' find employment and come to see their talents and skills materialise into beautiful art works. Whether every day or a few times a week, single mothers, coming here, have opportunity to either learn to work and perform orders, producing goods for the Art Story shop. All their work is fully paid out of the goods they make and sell. From this, they are able to earn sufficient money to develop self-support and care for their young families. Furthermore, Art House is an amazing environment which welcomes communication, emotional support and encouragement. It is a favourable environment for single mothers and girls to learn labouring skills and share the experiences and issues they face, without ever being judged or rejected for what they have and can do. 

One of the best examples within the Art House project is Natalia, Natalia was born and raised in a very poor family. After her parents died more than 12 years ago, she left to live with her two brothers. However, all she ever saw in her parents’ house was humiliation and pressure. Due to the constant pressure from her brothers as well as the very low living conditions, she was forced to leave the family home. But she had nowhere to go, so she agreed to cohabit with a man from her village. This man was regularly subjecting her to violence and forcing her to consume alcohol. On top of that, he started to force Natalia to have sex with other men. Yet through all this Natalia kept silent.  

In March 2012, 7-months pregnant Natalia was admitted to the municipal hospital where she was put on the critical list. She had again been subjected to severe physical and sexual abuse. According to doctors, as a result of all she had experienced, Natalia had both an acute psychiatric disorder and a physical disability. 

When she was sent from the rehabilitation center for victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking ‘House of Change’, we discovered that - at age 32 - she could neither read nor write. She only had the first grade of rural school. The House of Change team also established that Natalia’s life-skills level was so low that she did not know how to do many basic things and was afraid of everything new. While at the hospital, she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy Luka. In the spring of 2015, Natalia and her son took the first steps into the early development program of ELC for further help regarding their holistic transformation. 

Now, after more than a year Natalia and her son are happy to see real, measurable results at all life levels. Back in her younger years, lacking anything close to a parental role model, Natalia never learned what it means to dedicate yourself to a child’s development, to love him, or to work hard in order to support your family’s needs. Through attending ELC, Natalia not only got the chance to educate herself and her child, but also developed skills in sewing and manufacturing. This was made possible by being able to leave Luka in the care of ELC’s social teachers for several hours each week in order to go to Art House to work. 

Today, she has gained a lot of experience in working with the sewing machine. She is one incredibly motivated woman building a better future for her and her family. Now, Natalia has her own house, she is able to pay for her monthly expenses and pay her son’s kindergarten fees, and manage her daily life with the income. She said to us:

“Here I met the people who reached out a hand to my vulnerable situation and gave me a chance for better living. Here I practically changed my social status and gained confidence in life.”

For Natalia, as for all the other women who said ‘yes’ to these opportunities for transformation, time and hard work brought smiles back to their faces and living hope to within their hearts. Now that things are different, they are able to focus and dedicate more energy and learned skills to building family sustainability, where both women and their children can grow in safety and, step by step, develop a healthy way of living. 

 

Article from Beginning of Life Newsletter 2016

Natalia not real name

Click this link for some of their excellent products...


So lets make every day against trafficking persons!

04/08/2016 12:09:00



#IGiveHope

The UN launched the Day Against Trafficking Persons for the first time on July 30, 2014, to end human trafficking and raise awareness worldwide.

"Human traffickers prey on the most desperate and vulnerable. To end this inhumane practice, we must do more to shield migrants and refugees -- and particularly young people, women and children -- from those who would exploit their yearnings for a better, safer and more dignified future."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

According to the U.S. State Department, 600-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80% are female and half are children.

The global trade in people is estimated to cost £113bn, with human trafficking for sexual exploitation believed to cost the UK £890m.

Everyday we can choose to help end human trafficking through the choices we make when we spend money, raise our voices and invest in social enterprises enabling us all to join in saying #IGiveHope

We at Global Seesaw are all about joining in with encouraging hope and opportunity for sustainable and realistic ends to poverty and exploitation. We hope that everybody will join us on this journey of everyday little steps towards investing in a world where everyone has the opportunity to give and receive hope.

Weaving hope of a Traffick Free Future

06/08/2015 15:46:00



Recently, David Cameron called for a traffic free supply chain and for big businesses to show what they were doing to tackle human trafficking. We’re pleased that this issue is coming up but would love to hear more visionary plans to see big business purposefully supporting previously trafficked women through sourcing and employment creation. We can but hope and in the meantime, do our bit to make a difference.

We at Global Seesaw HQ are very excited to be the first business to place an order with Freeset Fabrics. They have been producing samples over the last year and are now in production of their beautiful woven scarves. A small group of women have been weaving for the last few months and we have had the privilege to import the work of this new fledgling business. 

Freeset Fabrics are an incubator business for Freeset. They are based outside of Kolkata in an area were poverty is rife and employment opportunities low. This area was chosen as the home for Freeset Fabrics because so many of the women employed at Freeset in Kolkata had been trafficked from there. The lack of options meant that many of the women ended up being trafficked to the city with the promise of a better life; but faced with the reality of existence in the sex trade. Freeset continue to be wholly committed to providing a way out for those women in Kolkata but, in order to address the root cause, they have set up Freeset Fabrics as a preventative project. They are offering employment to local women so that there is no longer a market for trafficking.

Global Seesaw have been working closely with Freeset over the last 10 years. They were the first freedom business that we started working with and have shared in a journey of watching each other’s businesses grow. When we placed our recent order with the new prevention business, we had an email back from Freeset Fabrics.  "The women are so excited to be moving from training mode into manufacturing mode, with their futures hopefully more secure.”

It has been great to be there at the start of this new project and know that it is going to make such a difference. We hope you’re just as excited as us about the new scarves.

Please do have a look at the new range on our website and please share on social media such as Twitter/ Facebook. If you do order one, why not take a photo and post it up on our Facebook page. We know the women would love to see their scarves being enjoyed.

Be an Agent for Change

07/05/2015 10:43:00



This Saturday 9th May is World Fair Trade Day and the WFTO is looking for Agents for Change.
Will you join in and Be an Agent for Change this year.... 

You could eat a fair trade banana, change your brand of coffee, buy a new fair trade tshirt.

Our power to invest and Be Agents for Change in our in our society, country, world is massive especially if we ALL together choose to consume consciously and proactively as well as thinking creatively of how we could use more Fair Trade products/business within our workplaces, communities and home lives. The power to make the world a fairier place geniunely is collectively in our hands.

For this World Fair Trade day there’s a great list of activities you could get up to below including really challenging things such as chocolate tasting, football games and spa nights! Tough stuff hey!

However you choose to get involved just make sure you do!

And then maybe reward your commitment to change with a glass or two of Fair Trade wine, beer or chocolate! 

To purchase a Fair Trade Tshirt that also brings employment to exploited and vulnerable women click here

 

2014 - What a year we had...

19/02/2015 12:45:00

2014 was an encouraging year for the small but growing team here at Global Seesaw and we wanted to share it with you…

We reached the milestone of having sent £500,000 to our manufacturing partners.  As a social business which creates employment for trafficked, vulnerable and exploited women this is great news and we think it is worth celebrating. This money helps create employment and means that women have real jobs and can make choices that previously were often hidden to them. Your purchases really are making a difference.

2014 also saw us named No1 Ethical Online Retailer by Ethical Consumer Magazine.  This led to other profiling and online sales growing. Having worked for 9 years to make a difference in women’s lives we value this recognition and the extra publicity it creates. At a time where some big businesses are in the spotlight and receiving criticism we are glad to show that being a social business can be a great platform to make a difference.

We have some great plans for 2015. These include developing new products, working with our suppliers to help create more freedom, more events and helping our network of resellers to join with us in this freedom story. None of what we do would be possible without you – our customers and supporters.

The Global Seesaw Team

Alternatives to Amazon – We are number one!

23/07/2014 12:53:00

For 20 years, Ethical Consumer has been at the heart of the ethical shopping movement. As part of their Alternatives to Amazon series, Ethical Consumer looked at 25 leading online ethical retailers and rated each one based on their ethical and environmental concerns. What we were pleased to see is that we topped the list!

Although there were so many larger and well established shops who were part of the list, it was a privilege to see us sitting at the top and a testament to the hard work we put in to make sure our customers get great products and at the same time the people who make them really benefit from their manufacture.

Ethical Consumer researcher Tim Hunt said:

"As more and more shoppers demand an ethical online alternative to Amazon, we're now recommending that people do their online shopping with Global Seesaw as this represents one of the best possible ethical and environmental choices."

We’re proud to be recognised for the ethics behind our business by such an established ethical champion as Ethical Consumer.



For the full report, please visit https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/miscellaneous/ethicalonlineretailers.aspx





Freedom Business Trip

15/04/2014 15:38:00

Six projects. Three districts. 300 people. All in India, all in eleven days of March – which we spent visiting some of our fantastic suppliers.   

Starting in Kolkata, we stayed with Freeset (our very first partner in our freedom business journey) who began their own journey in 2001, offering employment and opportunities to a handful of women, and now employing over 200 women – all of whom would otherwise had no choice for other than the colossal sex industry in Kolkata. 

For me, getting the opportunity to meet some of these women for the first time, and to hear their life stories, was heart-breaking, inspiring, and motivating – all in one go. Many of them had come from the rural villages north of Kolkata, and now they have found their freedom, their dream is to help other women and families not to face what they have been through. A real highlight of my trip was seeing their dreams beginning to become a reality; Freeset have begun setting up a new unit in Murshidibad (three hours north of Kolkata), where women from the local area will be able to gain skills to make them ready for employment in one of the many new freedom businesses in this area. The land has been bought, new weaving units producing luxurious scarves and fabrics are already being looked into, and preparations are under way for this new training unit to be built.  

Once again, in all of this the women are essential – through their empowerment and being giving opportunity to gain courage, confidence, and self-worth, they have thrived, and are now seeking out and helping the most vulnerable and at-risk families. Through their relationship building in these villages, they are the fighters for the next generation’s freedom; they are the bringers of justice; they have found hope for themselves and many, many more to come. Through the efforts of these women, who have battled against all the odds, future generations of women and children, from homes and villages just like their own, will be empowered to make better choices for their families and their futures. 

After Kolkata and Murshidibad we reached our final stop, Dehli. Taking the opportunity to meet with potential suppliers of many new and exciting products alongside aiming to avoid getting coated in paint over the Festival of Holi!

Having seen the growing skills of the women across the projects, and how the businesses are now looking to expand, I have been affirmed in my belief that this is the way to do business; bringing opportunity and empowerment to their incredible employees, and offering opportunities for so many to thrive. So I’m left in eager anticipation to see what the future holds for these freedom businesses, to see what they’ll get up to next, and looking forward to being able to invest in freedom for the generations of women and children to come.

International Women’s Day 2014

08/03/2014 04:56:00

International Women’s Day has become an opportunity to celebrate progress made towards equality for women across the globe. The Day is also an important reminder of the discrimination that women experience on a daily basis around the world, and the many campaigns which are actively promoting women’s interests.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has existed in some form or another since 1911, and has grown in recognition, becoming an organised global event. This year’s theme is ‘Inspiring Change’ and a recent example can be seen in this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics where women were allowed to compete in normal hill ski jumping for the first time. The achievements of the individuals who campaigned and fought for this change is inspirational. But their fight for change is not over, as female ski jumpers remain excluded from large hill and team ski jumping events.

IWD organisers encourage us to take a ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach to International Women’s Day. By Thinking Global we can remind ourselves of the diversity and range of issues affecting women and girls, including gendered inequalities in education, healthcare, employment, and the experience of violence and domestic abuse. By Acting Local we can participate in IWD to celebrate and inspire change, and get involved in awareness and fundraising activities. Check out www.internationalwomensday.com for events in your local area.

At Global Seesaw we are keen to participate in the process of change. We recognise the importance of women’s inequality and exploitation being challenged through sustainable and fair employment opportunities, and we want to support empowering alternatives for women. Through the purchase of products at Global Seesaw, we can work together to participate in the process of inspiring and enabling change.

 

Southampton Fair Trade Pop Up Shop

05/12/2013 07:33:00

Global Seesaw in association with Fairer Christmas presents The Southampton Fair Trade Pop-Up Shop
at the Civic Centre - opposite the Library entrance.

7 - 14 December 2013

Opening times:
Monday - Thursday 10am - 7pm
Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 4pm

Do come along for great fair trade gifts and presents and wonderful ethical products made by social enterprises who employ women free from human trafficking.

Our Best Investment

14/03/2013 12:16:00

Having celebrated International Women’s Day last Friday it once again shocked us to hear yet more statistics of how women across the world are still deprived of opportunity to better their health, education and well being.

Investment in women not only creates a better life for families but also benefits and strengthens the community. It is stated that 1 in 5 girls in the developing world who enrol in primary school never finish. The importance of equal opportunities however makes sense for everyone as it is reported that when 10% more girls do go to school a county’s GDP increases on average by 3%. 

It was great to hear of so many women across the world gathering to stand up for women’s rights including protests in Delhi, a big pillow fight in China and a march against domestic violence in London. You can find out more of what went on and is still being discussed here at www.internationalwomensday.com

We want to support more and more women in developing countries to access health care, employment and overall well being for we believe in the significant impact investing in women brings. Through working with the various projects that exist to provide employment and skills to formerly sexually exploited women, we hope to increase our voice of protest against the unfair treatment of women across the world. Global Seesaw look to support women through sustainable social enterprise inorder to bring about social change for women afflicted now and the generations to come. Investing in women is key to the future of developing countries and we’re committed to investing in this change. Join us in our commitment today as we continue to look for more ways to restore the balance.

Happy Valentines Day

14/02/2013 14:06:00

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

We hope that you have a day to remember love and love for one another. We at Global Seesaw have been celebrating seeing women, previously bought and sold, now enabled to experience real intimacy in a supportive and nurturing relationship where they are loved as a person as opposed to an object. Seeing communities of survivors working together to see a life of opportunities is well worth the celebration.

People have been happy to exploit vulnerable women for financial gain, disregarding their humanity and removing their dignity. We want to see every person restored with love, hope and dignity. That is why we at Global Seesaw support lots of projects where previously exploited women are supported and nurtured to bring them a new life, where intimacy is no longer a commodity but the real deal.

This Valentines we think of those who are yet to know this love and hope to see them find steps towards freedom. We support women in business across the globe and know that by investing in these women not only will they find love and nurture for themselves but also they will then pass that on to their friends, families and communities.

We would also like to celebrate 1 Billion Rising’s 15th anniversary and commend them in their stand against violence towards women. They quote the statistic that 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, which they’re right in saying is an atrocity. So this Valentine’s Day please remember not only the people you love but also those women yet to be free from being treated as a commodity.

The Real Cost of Cheap

29/11/2012 14:06:00

Hearing about the Bangladesh factory fire this week puts in perspective the real cost of cheap high street items. More than 100 workers died in the devastating fire at the nine-storey garment factory based in the outskirts of the capital city Dhaka. 

A further 300 factories near the capital were shut earlier this year as workers demanded higher wages and better working conditions. Unfortunately due to poor safety standards, hazardous wiring and over crowding fatal fires aren’t uncommon in Bangladesh’s garment sector.

In March this year, when we were visiting Sacred Mark and looking at new suppliers in Bangladesh, we travelled through this very area with the many garment factories all packed in close together.

On the one hand this influx of employment to Bangladesh has helped create much needed employment, but on the other we have to question the cuts that have to be made in order to satisfy the consumers’ desire for cheap products.

We at Global Seesaw believe that there is a way of doing business through reputable factories with high ethical standards and that provide a living wage.

And we recognise that our customers desire to buy products made to a high standard in good working conditions where employees are treated fairly.

However we are faced with the challenge of holding out and pricing our products fairly in the face of a global market that has been drastically driven down.

This sadly not only leads to cheap poorly produced products but also comes at the cost of human rights, ethical standards and as we’ve heard this week lives.

Birthday Celebrations!

15/11/2012 09:18:00

Although the vision is much older, seven years ago we received the paperwork back from Companies House and a dream started to become a reality. Global Seesaw (then just trading under the www.freesetbags.co.uk domain) started business with the intention of supplying customers with fair trade products and at the same time creating freedom from trafficking and exploitation for women throughout the world. Our driver was to see freedom and empowerment for these women and to do so, we wanted to see a happy customer base – this trade relationship could then be grown and women would not be the recipients of charity but given real jobs, making real products for real customers.

Thousands of products and customers later we are helping grow an ever increasing workforce who have freedom not previously possible and whose lives have been transformed through the employment created. Thousands and thousands of fair trade conference and event bags have been produced by Freeset and orders continue to flow in. Our bags and t-shirt orders have had many different customers from the famous through to the unknown. Each person has been part of the freedom story though and equally important in helping us to bring change.

Through developing the Global Seesaw brand & shop we have been able to expand the work we do and are selling items from thirteen businesses from 9 different locations. Each business we work with focussing on the change that social business can make. Businesses focused on freedom from exploitation and trafficking.

As we celebrate our 7th Birthday we want to thank all of our customers for helping us to make a tangible difference – long may it continue!!

Fair trade Christmas – Giving a Gift Which Keeps on Giving

08/11/2012 09:22:00

Christmas may seem like a long way off but before you know it we will be there.

We’ve been having a brilliant time getting ready and have been working with a number of suppliers to get great new gifts and Christmas ideas. These last few weeks we have been unpacking, sorting and listing all the new stock from the variety of inspiring projects we support.

Each item purchased from Global Seesaw not only gives a gift to your loved ones but also supports the work of those giving the gift of sustainable employment, good wages, and safe working conditions to previously exploited women.

At Global Seesaw, our passion is to enable vulnerable and exploited women to help themselves. As a business we focus on creating employment for women that have been victims of human trafficking or faced similar exploitation and abuse. Our belief is that no-one should be exploited in this way and action needs to be taken.

Do take a look at the many new products now available in our online store; we’ve got some great new jewellery from the Starfish Project and a new favourite item the ever so enchanting elephants! We also have great Christmas bags from Freeset which are ideal for packing and finishing off that gift. There is much more to come too with fair trade Christmas decorations from Bangladesh, Upcycled Sari Laptop Sleeves from Sari Bari and new natural soaps from Sacred Mark.

We’re also really looking forward to the arrival of other great items and there will be a few deals going so watch our facebook page and we will let you know once they have sailed in! 

This Christmas why not find gifts that keep on giving…

Fairtrade Elephant

 

Recycled Sari Bunting!

26/09/2012 16:30:00

Have you seen our new Bunting from Bangladesh made by the incredible women at Sacred Mark.

 

We’re yet to see what you think but we love bunting!

It transforms the starkest and dreariest of places into fun and creative spaces. Our festival stalls love being draped in the beautiful recycled sari materials used to make this kantha-stitched bunting.

 

Why not brighten up your lounge and hold onto the summer that bit longer or get ready in hope of another Indian Summer!

 

Whether your beach hut, caravan or garden party needs a little dressing up this bunting will serve you well time and time again.

 

Also makes the perfect present for that fashionable friend of yours!

 

If you’re not as excited by bunting as we are Sacred Mark also supply us with some gorgeous handmade soaps - another great fair trade gift.

 

Or if you would like some more items to brighten up your home check out these cushions

6 products from Global Seesaw that can keep you fashionable but fair!

20/06/2012 14:53:00

For so many of us fashion is a passion and we always strive to look our best, not just by the clothes we wear but also by the accessories that complete the look; the jewellery, the bag, the hair accessory. Some of us are even going as far to want to make our laptops look stylish with a printed laptop cover!

It can seem that you can’t make a difference to the world by the clothes or accessories you wear, but you are wrong! I’m here to show you six great products from Global Seesaw that will not only make you look and feel fabulous but by purchasing you will also be supporting environmentally friendly and fair trade items.

Not sure that is possible, go on just read on a bit more….

1.  The Clutch Bag

Whether you are being spoilt by your man and being taken out for dinner or are having a night out with the girls, the clutch bag NEVER lets you down. This clutch bag by Freeset is a must for the summer with its pretty print.

 

2. The Festival Top

It is that time of year when music festivals are happening all over the country – whether The Isle of Wight Festival or Reading festival is your thing, check out this festivalistic top – fairtrade cotton t-shirt – certain to help you enjoy the music.

3. The pretty but practical Scarf

Ok, so we aren’t always that lucky in the UK with the weather and nipping out in a cardie can seem enough in the summer, but sometimes you will just need to take that scarf with you too!  Why not try this fabulous scarf – its vintage, its pink and made by Sari Bari, what else do you need to know!

4. “I love your bracelet”

This is the bracelet that is going to get you props for fashion and accessory prettiness – even better its fair trade and recycled too.

5.  “Snuggle me Throw”

We all love a snuggle with our loved ones so why not snuggle and think about the families you will support by purchasing this throw by Shelano. Will also look gorgeous on your bed or sofa

6.  Even my laptop looks fabulous

In your quest to look amazing, don’t leave your laptop out! Think about strutting down the road carrying your boring black covered laptop or your fabulous printed sari pouch covered laptop!

 

We hope we have convinced you that you can be fashionable and fair! If you have any questions about this blog or the products or even how you can get involved in supporting fair trade and environmentally friendly products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Anti-Trafficking Business

01/05/2012 10:04:00

It is easy to get lost amongst the busyness and the many pressures of running an effective social enterprise. There is the daily routine required in keeping the accounts, managing web content and picking and packing orders. There is the publicity, communications and marketing. There is the future planning and stock selection. With all the various things pressing for time it is important to not lose sight of why the business exists in the first place.

Global Seesaw started at the end of 2005 as a business response to human trafficking and exploitation. Whilst there were many charities and NGOs who were looking at campaigning and supporting women to exit we wanted to work in a new area.

For genuine freedom to be created there needed to be employment opportunities for the women, many of whom would be stigmatised and not able to secure work easily. We were excited about working with social businesses who wanted to develop employment for trafficked and exploited women.

Six years on and we now work with 10 social enterprises that are in business to address the issue of human trafficking.  Each business provides training, employment and support to women and make sure they have genuine choices and freedom with their future.

These businesses make a variety of items from bags to scarves; journals to earrings; sari throws to hair clips. What unites them all is a heart to make a difference in vulnerable women’s lives through creating quality products.

Our vision is that people can shop with us knowing that they will get a fair trade gift or item they want and to know there is genuine change being created through the manufacture of the products.

Instead of the buying and selling of young women and girls, we believe business can make a positive difference and play a part of addressing human trafficking in 2012 and beyond.

Check out the variety of products made in our fair trade shop.

International Women's Day 2012

08/03/2012 12:12:00

International Women’s Day is always an interesting one and it is great to see the awareness growing and more and more events held to celebrate it.

But for the uninitiated, why bother? The cynic may ask whether there is a need.

As I write this whilst spending the week at Freeset in Kolkata, there is time to reflect and to see the relevance of such a day and the focus it brings to issues that impact many women globally. It is this reflection which is an important part of the event and helps us to stop amongst the busyness and to ask some of the questions necessary.

Although much has been done to campaign for gender justice, I do not think anyone could claim we are there yet. Reflecting on both the distance travelled and the journey still to go is a healthy thing and gives some perspective to our societies. Reflection in turn can affect our attitudes and choices and work can continue in building a fairer world.

As well as reflection, there is a time to celebrate both on an individual and global level. To see the many women at Freeset, who have persevered in adversity and fought against a system which is all too often stacked against them, celebrating the commitment to see change is a key part of the day.

Each person and every woman will have a different emphasis to the day. Whatever your interest, let’s take a chance to reflect and celebrate. We’ve celebrated every woman who has been previously exploited through trafficking and prostitution and is now able to have genuine choice and alternatives.  Their perseverance is an inspiration and we will work to see this choice given to more each year.

Winners of Social Enterprise Award

27/01/2012 10:01:00

We’re pleased to say we won the 2012 Social Enterprise Award last night at the inaugural People & Environment (PEA) Business Awards. Sponsored by the National Enterprise Network, the Social Enterprise Award was to acknowledge the work and achievements of the individuals or teams behind the most inspiring and successful social enterprises.

The award recognises the work that we do in two ways. This is through addressing waste through creating eco jute and cotton bags and also creating employment for women in India who are now free from human trafficking and exploitation in prostitution.

Although it is impossible to mention everyone by name, it is important to recognise the team contribution and the many people who have helped along the way. It’s also important to recognise the hard work of the women in India who are the real inspiration and the reason we’re in business.

Of course we are always looking for new customers who are sourcing jute, hessian or organic cotton bags. If you are looking for promotional bags or eco conference bags why not give us a call and see how we can help?


Freeset UK Director Mark Wakeling with member of judging panel, Deborah Meaden  

Global Seesaw is the retail arm of Freeset Ltd 

Finalists in PEA Business Awards 2012

26/01/2012 11:11:00

Tonight is the 2012 People and Environment (PEA) Business Awards and we’ve been selected as finalists for the Social Enterprise Award. Being one of two finalists we need to wait and find out whether we have won but it’s great to be recognised for the work we do to tackle human trafficking and reduce waste.

The PEA Business Awards have been launched to celebrate how green initiatives can be good for business as well as the planet.  It’s exciting to be part of these inaugural awards and to join with so many other green and ethical businesses who have been selected for their contributions.

The Social Enterprise Award is to acknowledge the work and achievements of the individuals or teams behind the most inspiring and successful social enterprises (whether a start-up, an organisation that holds the social enterprise mark or a business or project led by young people).

“The PEA Business Awards look for the real innovators–the teams and individuals who are driving new models of business. If this is a moment where the business sector has to respond rapidly to the social, environment and economic crises we confront, the PEA Business Awards celebrate the catalysts.”
Leo Johnson, Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers Sustainability & Climate Change & Chairman of Pea Business Awards Judges

Welcome Comments!

17/11/2011 14:11:00

We have just received this comment and thought it needed to be shared...

"Hi, just a quick note to say thank you as the kantha queen sized throw arrived 2 days after I ordered it and I could not have been more delighted with it. The colours, the stitching the uniqueness and the feeling it gives off of peace and tranquility could not be any better - it has transformed my lounge into a lovely homely room so a big thanks to Laxmi.I have gone back and ordered a smaller throw, 3 cushions and a scarf this evening which I know I will also be thrilled with. Your site is such a find, I will reccomend it to friends for the great work you are doing and the amazing products. I am very glad to have stumbled across you on the internet, many thanks and keep up the great work! " - Julie

To check out more great Sari Bari products including newly uploaded vintage Sari Throws, please visit here

Not Remaining Silent

17/11/2011 10:11:00

Martin Luther King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We all have issues that we are passionate about and 2011 has been a year where there have been many voices heard around the world. Hindsight is a great thing but could we really imagine the changes that this year has seen?

At Global Seesaw, our passion is to enable vulnerable, trafficked and exploited women to help themselves. We do this through helping to create sustainable employment and ensure the women are paid good wages, have safe working conditions and are able to make genuine choices about the future.

As a business we focus on creating employment for women that had been victims of human trafficking or faced similar exploitation and abuse. Our belief is that no-one should be exploited in this way and action needs to be taken.

That’s the reason that Global Seesaw exists. We will not stay silent. We will not sit back. Instead we will join with the voices of the women for opportunities, hope and freedom.

You can help us to get this voice heard. We’re on Facebook and Twitter and of course there is our website.  Do follow us and pass the message on to friends and family.

Together we can see great change.


Happy Customers!

08/11/2011 16:16:00

Our aim as a business is to make the greatest impact possible in the lives of women who have been trafficked and victims of exploitation. We want to create significant amounts of sustainable employment and real opportunities and choices for the future.

How do we do that?

By working with you, the customer, and making sure we give great customer service.

Freedom for the women is possible if we all work together and we want to work with you to ensure you get what you want and the women who make the fair trade products get work. 

we thought we would post a couple of recent customer comments from the past week...

“Like your site - will use again.  Regards Paula”  

"Just wanted to let you know the bag arrived today and how pleased we are with both the product and service.  Regards - Alan and Julie"

 Why not get your ethical Chrismas presents from us this year and make sure the women employed by our partner businesses are the ones that are celebrating.
 

Anti-Slavery Day 2011

18/10/2011 12:10:00

18th October 2011 marks Anti-Slavery Day in the UK. The day was established in 2010 as a way of raising the profile of modern-day slavery in the UK and around the world. 

With more media interest in human trafficking and multiple organisations engaging with this issue, the plight of those exploited is definitely being heard.

Whilst many look back to Wilberforce and the campaigners 200 years ago, it's right that on a day calling for an end to slavery that we look to those who have been directly impacted.

This anti-slavery day we want to celebrate the lives of all those who are employed by our partners. Many have been trafficked and all exploited through prostitution. Poverty reduces choices and creates vulnerability where women are exploited.

We want to celebrate each woman who has found freedom and been a key agent in her own and others emancipation.

Roll on Anti-Slavery Day 2012 and may we see many more trafficked women offered true freedom through sustainable employment and genuine choices.

Voices of Freedom

19/09/2011 11:09:00

Here are some of the voices of freedom from the women at Freeset. Having been trafficked and exploited through prostitution, freedom has been found through the opportunities created by Freeset...


“The difference between the jobs offered by Freeset and any other jobs is the women in the line are considered totally untouchable to any other employer in our society.  We are not even considered regular human beings.  In contrast to that Freeset is providing identity to these women by offering them jobs.  So Freeset is more about freedom than just a mere job.”  -Mena

The day I got my first salary was the most memorable day of my life. That day I chose the path to freedom.” -Kundula

“When I was in line and when I used to get a lot of money (though irregularly), I never had any planning or had no intention of saving.  But after working here and getting used to drawing a regular salary, I have learned how to keep a balance between things and how to save.” – Bebe

“Freeset is very significant to me.  It is a place for freedom…..Freeset is for all the women in the line.  This is the only place for their freedom.  Whoever is not in the line can get a job anywhere but the women in line have no opportunity to get a decent job.”  -Santosh

“I never look back to the life I had before.  I am a free person now.” -Janat

“I wish all the women in line could get freedom by coming here. I want Freeset to grow more.”-Sandiya

“When we come to Freeset we feel like it is our family. I can’t wait to come to work when I’m at home.” -Mena

Freeset celebrates 10 years of freedom

19/09/2011 10:10:00

Kerry and Annie Hilton are a couple from New Zealand who came to Kolkata to live and work among the poor in 1999.  After quite unintentionally moving into a red light area in the city, they developed a passion for finding ways for women to become free of the sex trade.  They invested time learning to speak Bengali and building relationships in the community around them.  One night Annie ran out of flour and while out with Kerry searching to find more, they met Priya. She was involved in a local women’s clinic that was closing down and Kerry noticed their sign-board in the back of the little shop.  After only a couple of minutes of conversation they discovered their common interest of bringing freedom to the women of the area.  Priya became the doorway into the community.

The first meeting with interested women took place in June, 2001.  One of the women recalled of that meeting, “I was a bit sceptical of them but thought they looked like good people who mixed well with us.  As we became friends I trusted them more.“ Trust was a big issue for women who had been betrayed by many and disappointed by foreigners who had come before promising help, but who had delivered little. Freeset began 10 years ago on September 17th 2001 with 20 women in 5 small rented rooms.

The women were excited - though a little anxious - to be involved with the cleaning and painting of the rooms, where they would begin working in this business for freedom.  They made quite a sight as they went home those first few days all covered in dust.  Soon it was time to learn the sewing…     Most of the women had never used a sewing machine and many were illiterate. Some weren’t even convinced they would be able to master this new skill. “I learned to sew on a pedal machine.  I couldn’t get the machine to work at first... Then, when I finally got the machine to work I couldn’t sew.” recalls Bharati who goes on to say, ”Once Kerry gave me some rope to cut and a hard board to cut it on.  I cut right through the board and scratched the floor.  Kerry gave me the knife to cut with because I couldn’t use scissors.“ But she has found her place at Freeset and although sewing wasn’t her thing, she says, “I am good at cutting and finishing, and I enjoy it.”

Annie says of those early days, “Once we thought they had found every wrong way possible to sew a bag, they would surprise us by discovering a new one.  But they worked hard and eventually they got it.” Parul recalls how productivity has been a struggle too, “In the beginning out of 20 women... we used to make 30 bags per day.” Kerry was always looking for ways to ensure Freeset would be a sustainable business, “My concern was that if the women could never improve the quality and quantity then at some point the business would have to be shut down...    I used to say, ‘If you make 2 bags per day try to make 3, if you make 3, then try to make 4.’”

Freeset’s first order was for 1000 bags to Huckleberry Farms in New Zealand.  Production began at the beginning of January 2002 and with just 20 women fresh out of training, the order took about 3 months to complete including some long days. “In the first order I made 50 bad gussets” says Kundula, “Kerry was very particular so I had to re-sew 50 gussets”.  Relieved when they got the call from the customer saying they liked the bags, Freeset had a hard-earned celebration.

The first payday marked an important milestone for the women working at Freeset. For Bharati, it was about trust; “When we started getting paid, then I felt that the Hilton’s were really trustworthy.”  For Kundula that first pay was about freedom, “Kerry asked who was willing to quit the line. I was the first one to put up my hand and say ‘Yes’.  I promised to Kerry, whatever salary I am given I will quit the [sex] line and would never look back.”

During the first month on full-pay, two women who had not been officially employed kept coming to work each day despite being told that Freeset couldn’t afford to pay them.  At the end of the month each of the paid women pooled money from their own salaries and gave it to the two women themselves.  Kerry says, “The women taught me a great lesson and I realized then that I had a lot to learn from these women.”

Ten years later Freeset has purchased two buildings where nearly 200 women work each day.  Last year Freeset made 175,000 bags and 42,000 T-shirts.  While many have been involved in the journey that has become Freeset, none deserve the credit more than the courageous women of Freeset themselves. Perhaps one of the women says it best, “I really feel very happy to see Freeset in today’s position.  We’ve made it a long way from 10 years back to today.  I just pray, as we formed the foundation of Freeset, it becomes a place of freedom to many women in the future.”

Trafficking - A Quick Fix?

04/07/2011 20:07:00

There are numerous websites that suggest you can make a difference to women who have been trafficked and exploited through prostitution through a handful of small actions. Whilst this undoubtedly is appealing to many a reader, the reality is often much more complex.  When faced with the cruelty and horror of poverty and exploitation, we either become overwhelmed, not knowing what we can do or we want a quick-fix approach. We want to feel that our actions are making a difference.

At Global Seesaw we will never suggest there is a quick-fix to those lives that have been damaged through the exploitation they have faced. Neither will we pretend to be the heroes that are responsible for changed lives. What we will do, however, is to champion the people who have been exploited in the first place as they seek to be the agents of their own change. We will also bring to market the excellent products that they have made and enable our customers to join with their story. Although we wish it was different, we do not believe in a quick-fix but we do believe that we can all take steps to bring about change.

Over the coming weeks we will be uploading our new products made by anti-human trafficking businesses and social enterprises. Keep an eye out for the great fair trade bags, organic t-shirts, handmade soaps and beautiful kantha products for recycled vintage saris. 

 

Fresh Eyes

23/06/2011 10:06:00

One of the things that is very life-giving to me is visiting the red-light area near our business. I know that seems strange. I don’t understand it myself – but when I sit in those rooms with our friends, something in me comes alive. And as I balance (often precariously) between darkness and hope, I am alive in ways that I’m not any other time.

A few weeks ago Beth and I went to visit a brothel that Beth had previously spent a lot of time in – but we hadn’t been in recently (and I’d never been in). While we were sitting there talking with Beth’s friends, and older woman came in and began to tell us her story. She told us of a life of abuse, and a lack of hope. It’s a story I’ve heard over and over – and at the same time it is unique. After all, this is not a book I’m reading, or a movie I’m watching. It’s not a documentary. There she is standing in front of me, telling me her story. And it’s a story that should never happen. It should never have to be told – but it did, and it does. And then she told us about her son, and her grandson – and how well they are doing. I just kept thinking about how horrible her life had been. I can’t comprehend the betrayal, abuse and despair she’s lived through. Simultaneously I could hear pride in voice that her son and grandson had very different lives than she did. And I just kept thinking how she provided for her family at great cost to herself. My heart broke that she’d lived through what she’d lived through, and it celebrated with her that her offspring had a different life (as much as it can with a near stranger).

And then I realized I “knew” this woman, or at least I knew about her.

She’s “that woman” who owns the brothel. It’s a dark brothel. There are young girls forced to work there. It’s not a nice place (and this is in comparison with other brothels, so that’s saying a lot!). She’s the woman that I blame. I judge. I have no compassion for. She’s the oppressor. She’s “the bad guy.” She’s who we’re “fighting against.”

But after hearing her story – none of those labels fit anymore. After hearing her story, it somehow makes a lot more sense why and how she makes the decisions she does today. It’s still wrong, and I still hate it, but it makes sense. She has been broken. She has been oppressed. She has been abused. She’s lived through more than most of us can conjure up in our worst nightmares. And while that doesn’t justify oppressing someone else, she needs freedom as much as the girls she “owns.” How beautiful would it be for her to find restoration and hope and freedom? Can you imagine?!

My heart is quick to judge (hopefully its becoming a little slower). How quickly I had written her off , seeing only the worst of her, and not her humanity.  I saved that grace for myself and those I deem “worthy.” If I’d known who I was talking with – I know I would have listened with different ears. But on that day, I received grace I didn’t deserve. I received the grace of hearing a story without the filter of my judgment.

By Melissa. Orignially posted at saribari.com/blog

Sari Bari products available here

Working on the top of the cliff

07/06/2011 11:11:00

The following article was posted by Kerry on www.freesetglobal.com

Ever heard someone say, “I’ve just got too many balls in the air right now?” I immediately picture a juggler desperately trying to keep up with the impossible. Whilst we’re not trying to achieve the impossible, there’s a fair bit going on at Freeset right now and it’s mainly because we have big dreams for freedom. 

In the last newsletter we talked about “getting to the source,” made in reference to a place 200 km North of Kolkata called Murshidabad. Our concern that many young girls are being stolen and sold from that area motivated us to commission a study to see whether what we have heard is true. The research is in and sadly it confirms our fears. There are villages in Murshidabad whose economies are reliant on selling their daughters into prostitution. This has been going on for generations – and our research shows it is strongly connected with poverty. Our question is: how can we help bring choices to the village families through business so they don’t have to sell their own daughters? It’s an economic problem and it needs an economic solution. Over the next few months a few of us from Freeset will be spending some time in different parts of Murshidabad getting to know people and organisations to see how best to respond. We’ll let you know how we get on. 

We see the need to help couples and singles, foreign and Indian alike to establish new businesses in areas such as Murshidabad where there are high levels of trafficking. Why wait until little girls are stolen at 10, 11, 12 or 13 years old and sold in our neighbourhood of Sonagacchi? Better never to be wrenched from family and lose all dignity and hope in the first place - a “top of the cliff” approach. Of course, the need for freedom for women and girls already trapped in prostitution remains, so Freeset will always focus on establishing and growing new freedom businesses in red light areas in West Bengal and Bangladesh as well. 

I’m interested to hear from anyone with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit who thinks they have nothing better to do than give up the rest of their lives for the privilege of journeying with others in freedom. Who knows, you might just find your own freedom in the process. I have. 

Kerry 

In Her Own Words

20/05/2011 16:16:00

Rupa has worked at Freeset for the past eight years. She demonstrated excellent leadership ability quite early in her employment and was given the position of assistant to the production manager in bags a couple of years ago. Recently, she was promoted to Production Manager of T-shirts. 

"I want the women who are still standing in line to be free and to have time to laugh.”


Her responsibilities include making sure that production runs smoothly and that production goals are met so that shipments can go out on time. She also makes sure that all of the women in Tees’s are working well and producing good quality work. When asked if she likes her new position she replied, “Yes!” with a broad smile. As the mother of two daughters she said, “Life has been so much better since I started working here. I have a good salary. I can give a better life to my children and they can go to school.” 

Rupa has a strong passion to see more women free from the trade. “I want to see Freeset grow. I want to see lives changed. I want the quality of women’s lives to get better and the character of their lives to improve. It’s important for children to see their mothers doing good things. Then the stigma that has been on the family can be removed and the children can be proud of their mothers. I want the women who are still standing in line to be free and to have time to laugh.” 

To buy individual Freeset Fairtrade and Organic T-Shirts you can visit here or here.  If you are interested in custom printed shirts for a youth group, event or resale do drop us an e-mail.

Freeset joins the World Fair Trade Organisation

19/05/2011 17:17:00

We are pleased to announce that one of our main suppliers in India has joined the World Fair Trade Organisation.

In 2010 Freeset gained provisional membership of the WFTO and in 2011, full membership has been awarded.

As an established social enterprise Freeset has been committed to fairtrade principles and practice. Not only are fair wages paid but the business deliberately focuses on employment for women who have been trafficked and exploited by prostitution. 

When buying Freeset products, you know that fairtrade is at the heart of the business and that the Freeset employees are at the heart of the business.

Well done Freeset! 

Human Trafficking - Creating Sustainable Change

09/05/2011 11:05:00

Over the last few years there have been a host of charitable organisations started with the aim of engaging with the issue of human trafficking. These range from charities which focus on advocacy through to the care of those affected. It would seem that we have never had more interest in this subject. In the midst of the interest though, we do need to stop and ask how sustainable change can be created.

It is safe to say we welcome the rise of interest in human trafficking and sexual exploitation and are glad for increased awareness and action. We do have some cautions however as misinformation can easily be spread and we are now in a world where sound-bites can rule.

Since 2005, we have worked in the UK to develop a route to market for products that are made by women who have been exploited through trafficking and prostitution. We operate as a social enterprise with 100% of profits going to empower more women to make choices to escape, and our manufacturing partners all employ women who either were previously trapped in prostitution or were at severe risk of being exploited. Together with these partners we have been looking at a business solution to trafficking rather than a purely charitable one. This enables long term solutions rather than a quick fix

Whilst there are many great charitable outcomes, there is a danger of the beneficiary being the passive recipient of those who give.  With language such as ‘victim’ and ‘rescue’ there is a danger that this is enforced further and the individual affected never becomes an agent of their own freedom. The power that was held by the trafficker is unintentionally passed on to the organisation or authorities rather than to the women herself. With social enterprise however, the tables are turned and the focus is on the individual being empowered to make choices for their own freedom. The training and employment opportunities enable sustainable change and the empowerment of a woman to be the agent of her own destiny.

As a social enterprise, we are glad to see the list of our manufacturing partners growing and being able to make more products available to our customers. We now have new jewellery available from Thai Song and a Freedom Stones project in Ghana along with several new Freeset Bags. We’ve just had a large order leave India from Sari Bari, Destiny Reflection and Love Calcutta Arts along with the new range of Freeset Bags and T-Shirts. If you want to play a part in creating this sustainable change and freedom, do keep checking our site and remember the women we work with when you do your shopping.

If you are not already on our newsletter list, do join up and you'll be sent updates and discount codes for shopping online.

 

New Fair Trade Eco-Friendly Products

06/05/2011 19:05:00

Thai Song Fairtrade are a social business based in Bangkok, Thailand. In their words they are a “business for people, rather than profit.”

The women they employ are vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation due to poverty, limited education and lack of means to support their families. Through Thai Song, things have changed and they now handcraft high-quality, eco-friendly products out of recycled plastic and metals. This is collected from their area and remade into bags and earrings and then exported for resale.

We now stock a number of Thai Song’s lines and are looking forward to helping them develop their business in the years to come.

 

New Freeset Global Website

28/04/2011 21:04:00

Freeset have just launched their new website with a huge amount of improvements for both custom printed bags and their own designs. Now when you visit you will get a chance to look in depth at the products for sale and click through to your regional distributor. 

Freeset started in 2001 to provide employment to women who wanted to leave the sex industry in Kolkata, India. With many women having been trafficked into prostitution or trapped by poverty, employment was needed to enable the women to bring change. Through the manufacture of jute bags the business grew and now Freeset employs over 150 women making ethical bags and organic fairtrade t-shirts for the export market.

Freeset doesn't operate as a charity but as a social business. To bring lasting change they need to make sure they meet their customers needs. Happy customers means repeat orders and more women can be employed.

We have worked with Freeset since late 2005 to develop a market for their products in the UK. They are our main supplier and we love working with them. Their passion for freedom, dignity and hope for the trafficked and exploited women in Kolkata is amazing. Do check out their new website and the soon to be available range in the UK.

www.freesetglobal.com - Where Business Makes a Difference

Recycled Glass Bead Jewellery

18/04/2011 18:04:00

We've recently uploaded our great new jewellery which have been lovingly made with recycled glass beads. These amazing items have been created by a human trafficking social enterprise in Ghana which provides employment for survivors. Check out these skillfully made collection here 

 

New Vintage Scarves from Sari Bari

30/03/2011 11:03:00

We're pleased to have taken a new delivery of vintage sari scarves from Sari Bari. 

Not only that but Sari bari have just celebrated their 5th Birthday. We're worked with Sari Bari for most of this time and it's been a real privilege. Not only do they make great quality products which our customers love but they also make a real difference in the womens' lives who make them. Over 70 women are now employed who have escaped from human trafficking or poverty driven prostitution.

Each product comes with a tag with the woman's name who made it. Over the last 5 years it has been great to see the list of names growing as more women find freedom and are empowered to bring change.

 

 

New Envoy Eco Satchel

10/03/2011 20:03:00

Just arrived! Our fair-trade envoy satchel in black jute is a popular style of bag with a clean print. With an adjustable strap and internal pockets, this stylish satchel amkes an ideal unisex eco-bag.

Made by Freeset in Kolkata, the production of these bags makes a real difference in the lives of the women who make them. Freeset offers employment to women trapped in Kolkata's brothels and empowers women to make genuine choices for their lives.


Check it out here

International Women's Day

08/03/2011 14:03:00

International Women's Day in celebrated each year on 8th March and celebrates the achievement of women globally. Started in the early 1900's there are numerous events and women that are remembered and their contribution celebrated.

At Global Seesaw we celebrate too as all our products are made by incredible women who have overcome adversity and have persevered despite opposition.

 

With many having been victims of human trafficking or prostitution through poverty and coercion, you’ll find each product we sell has a great story and behind it is the work of a great woman!


Tackling Human Trafficking

28/02/2011 11:02:00

Why do we do it? What is the website about?

You may feel that there are plenty of ethical, eco and fair-trade shops online and you are right so what makes us different?

Firstly, we started the business in 2006 as we wanted to make a difference in the lives of women who had been trafficked into prostitution. It was the social change that motivated us and the profits enabled us to make that change.

Secondly, we felt that a new model was needed where we moved away from charity and engaged instead with social business which enabled sustainable change and gave dignity to those who made the products. It would be easy to sell things that others have made and to use the profits to help victims of trafficking. This didnt seem like a joined up solution though and could easily keep women dependent on charity rather than empowered to find their own solution.

Thirdly, we felt it was definitely the time for balance. All too often trade has been about those with the money and power dictating the terms to those without. We felt that this needed to change and a different model was needed where the employees were the ones to benefit rather than the business owners. Social Enterprise and Big Society are terms that are becoming well known and this proves a point that people really do want to see things differently.

So, how are we different?

We run the business to see change. Human Trafficking is not a new thing we've got into but we have years of experience working in this fields both from a charity and social enterprise perspective.

For us, ethical trading isn't a way to create more trade, it's at the heart of all we are and do.

 

Slacktivism?

24/01/2011 14:01:00

The Observer newspaper ran an interesting article at the weekend regarding social networking and how it can isolate rather than connect. But how does that relate to us?

Within the article there was an interesting thought put forward by Evgeny Morozov from his book The Net Delusion. According to Morozov social media has bred a generation of what he calls "slacktivists". He argues that the new opportunities provided by social media have made people lazy.  Along with this laziness he argues that it’s enshrined the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time.

As we’ve developed this social business we’ve become converts to social media and the opportunities both to advertise products and to profile the social aims of the business. Has this increased the tendency for “slactivisim” though?

Whilst there is certainly a possibility of “slacktivism” for a small minority we’re not likely to be a “slactivist” cause. Our identity as a social enterprise means that we do not run on donations like a charity would or a campaign but instead products must be sold. Activity must happen.

Also, if people do choose to click a mouse to profile our work we certainly will not be complaining. Advertising and publicity is often a significant part of a large company’s budget. Running a smaller ship and being rooted with our manufacturing partners means we do not have the ability to promote our products in the same way. This is where the new opportunities provided by social media come in. Having people click their mouse on behalf of us is an important way of getting brand awareness our and products moving. In turn, real activity happens when jobs are provided and lives are changed.

Whatever the truth is on “slactivism”, don’t be put off tweeting about us, liking us on Facebook and sending our details on to your friends to pass on. We need you to help us in helping to make a difference to all those employed by the businesses we work with.

Feel free to pass a link to this on to others who want to see change and see that social media whilst not the answer can play an important part.

Freeset Video

26/11/2010 20:11:00

Have you watched the Freeset DVD yet? If not, it's well worth taking 6 minutes to have a look and to see the amazing women who make our wonderful bags and t-shirts.

Freeset take fairtrade to the next level and provide employment to vulnerable women who would be unlikely to be offered a job elsewhere. They are given the training required and able to escape a life of abuse and exploitation.

If you have seen the video, pass the link on to others you think may be interested! 

https://www.youtube.com/v/KSX3y2mqTh4?fs=1&hl=en_GB

What exactly is Ethical Trade?

23/11/2010 14:11:00

With the revelation that yet another High Street store has problems with its supply chain, the question has to be asked whether there is a contradiction between fair trade and large business.

In a recent investigation by the Observer newspaper (link to article here) there was a discovery that there was a failure by Monsoon to meet minimum standards. This included a failure to pay the minimum wage, child labour, excessive working hours and harsh or inhumane treatment of staff. This was from a fashion business that has been described as a “Leading Light” of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).

This is not the first company that has signed up to the ETI that has been found in breach of the ethical code that it seeks to promote.  In Samantha Maher’s commentary from Labour Behind the Label she observes that often “ethical” work done by retailers such as Monsoon can often amount to little more than window-dressing. With large retailers having considerable trading power it isn’t a surprise that many suppliers are prepared to cut corners in order to win business and that ultimately it is the powerless employees who are the ones to pay the price. As Maher observes, it is often the women and children that suffer because of the cost and risk-cutting and these people often remain completely invisible. (https://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/)

Despite this we still refer to “ethical trade” for when businesses sign up to an “ethical” code of conduct.
Perhaps it’s time not to use the term “ethical trade” so glibly. Some may suggest a good place to start would be for the term “Unethical trade” or “Unethical trader" to be used as the norm in referring to the large fashion retailers. Businesses that then want to change this designation and be referred to as “ethical” could then be asked for a real commitment to do trade differently.

A good place to start would be to champion the fortunes and well-being of those that make the products with the same focus as the fortunes of the management, owners and shareholders. Instead of the financial bottom line being the measure of success, a triple bottom line could be measured which covered measuring the social impact of the supply chain and also the environmental impact. If more businesses moved towards a social enterprise model then perhaps then we could then begin to grasp the true nature of ethical trade.

Win Win

15/11/2010 21:11:00

One of the aims of this website is to create a win win situation. There's no doubt that people like buying good quality and well designed products and they also like to feel they are making a difference. Global Seesaw has been launched to help facilitate that win win situation. The best thing though is that it doesn't stop there. Yes - our customers are always important to us but so are the wonderful women who produce our products. Unlike many businesses that pledge to give a percentage of their profits to charity, our business structure means that it's the women who were previously at risk who get the benefit of sustainable employment. Their win is not only a job away from human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, but in also getting 100% of the profits reinvested back into the social enterprise to ensure growth and more women benefit in the future.

We run this business for one reason - to bring transformation to women's lives who have been bought and sold - often for less than the change that you have in your pocket.

The success of Global Seesaw will make a direct impact on the lives of the women we help employ and whose lives have been change through manufacturing all the items we sell.

The great thing is that you can help too! Shopping here is an obvious way but we also need you to help spread the word. We now have a Facebook page up and running and Twitter account too. Do follow us and suggest us to your friends. The more people that know about this site and the work we are supporting, the more women we can help and the more people will enjoy their new products.

Human Trafficking cannot be ignored. Help us make sure it isn't.

Launch of New Online Ethical Shop

12/11/2010 16:11:00

If you've found us here you may have come here direct and be a new customer or an old one searching for us at www.freesetbags.co.uk and been redirected to our new online shop.

Why the change? We've been trading for 5 years now and our website was desperate for an update plus we felt it was time to create a couple of websites for our different customers. With www.freesetbags.co.uk focussing on our custom printed jute and cotton bags and t-shirts we needed a new domain for our retail customers. As we feature more than bags and more than Freeset it was time to make a complete change and find a new identity that communicated what we were about - hence www.globalseesaw.co.uk 

Global Seesaw
 is committed to bringing you quality products that are beautiful, useful and ethical. Our products are known for their contemporary design, use of recycled materials and manufactured with love by the women who make them. Our aim is to balance quality products at affordable prices with a business that really makes a difference in the lives of women made vulnerable throughpoverty, exploitation, human trafficking and prostitution.

We are a social enterprise business that goes beyond fair trade to provide employment for women who have formerly been trafficked into prostitution and assist them in changing their lives.  We employ women to address the global inequality that keeps them in poverty and leads into a downward spiral ofprostitution and exploitation.  We go beyond simply paying fair wages, providing a safe, healthy working environment and refusing to employ child labour, butre-invest our profits into the business.  By doing this, we actively invest in thewomen and their families empowering them to escape poverty and build a secure future.

Whether you are searching for a gift for someone special, a treat or an essential household item, you are sure to find products that are unique, beautiful, modernand helping women to make their future brighter.

Global Seesaw is the UK distributor for Freeset , Sari Bari and Love Calcutta Arts.