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Women in Business Awards and Luncheon (Posted On: Tuesday, October 16, 2007)

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The inaugural Women in Business Awards lunch will be hosted at the Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club on Wednesday Oct. 31 at 11:30. The Centre For Business is co-sponsoring this event with the Enterprise-Bulletin and Meridian Credit Union. The event includes a presentation of the Business Woman of the Year award, and the Heart & Soul award; both awards are designed to recognize women in business in the Georgian Triangle. Download your submission form here.

In 2001 Ingrid Heinrichs Pauls changed careers in order to manage the Ten Thousands Villages store in Princeton, New Jersey. Two years later she came to Canada to manage a new Ten Thousand Villages store in Oakville. There are now three stores in Toronto. As spokesperson for an organization advocating for Fair Trade practices she says it's about "giving women a voice and a choice."

Ingrid Heinrich Pauls says people need to educate themselves on Fair Trade practices, and develop an awareness of what products are being made in Third World countries by people who are being paid fairly for their work, and products that are made by people who are exploited.

The majority of people who find themselves in the latter situation are overwhelmingly women, who in some of these countries have no voice and are only trying to put food on the table and provide an education for their children. "When you give them a voice (by demanding Fair Trade products), these women are not only able to feed their children and keep a roof over their head, but you give them self esteem — and their whole life changes," she said.

The concept of Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 with Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite Central Committee worker visiting volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching sewing classes to help improve the lives of women living in poverty. Byler brought several pieces of embroidery home to sell to friends, and it became so popular she added other products from other areas of the world. By 1996, the project had evolved into Ten Thousand Villages, an organization based on 'commerce with a conscience', the idea that a sustainable future is built on the principle that trade should have a conscience and that producers earn fair value for their work.

Heinrichs Pauls said it should be no surprise when products that are made using an exploited workforce are found to be inferior — such as recent recalls from products made in China.

It's a matter of people educating themselves about where and under what conditions the consumer products they buy are made, she said. When someone in Collingwood buys a 'fair trade' product, for instance, that helps the person who made the product and their family to get out of the cycle of poverty that many in Third World countries face. "Nothing really changes if you don't know what the issues are," she said. "You're seeing products (like Fair Trade coffee) because people started to ask for it. When you know the issues, you can ask the questions.".

Tickets for the lunch are $25, and are available by calling Angela at the Centre For Business, 445-8410.

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