A thoughtful model and a little bit of encouragement is sometimes all that is needed to empower women in potentially intimidating workspaces. Or at least for Fabiola, this was the case.

Fabiola worked at a vegetable greenhouse in Sonora in northern Mexico when the farm decided to become Fair Trade certified. Fabiola, one of thousands of workers, was elected to be a representative on her farm’s Fair Trade Committee. She was shy and hesitated to speak in front of others. As a part of the committee, she received training and learned how to negotiate and represent her fellow co-workers’ concerns.

Nathalie Marin-Gest, Fair Trade USA Senior Director of Produce & Floral, visited Fabiola’s farm a year after she was elected to the committee.

Fabiola had embraced her new role whole-heartedly. Marin-Gest said Fabiola was firing a construction manager who was not doing a good job and hosting meetings with thousands of workers with ease. She was emboldened by being on the committee and learning how the farm production process worked. She was advocating for workers and communicating with suppliers regularly.

“I’d never spoken up in public—I was terrified to,” she told Marin-Gest at the time. “I didn’t want to accept the nomination but now I feel proud of myself for being able to do this, and my kid told me, ‘Mom, good job. I’m proud of you,’ and it was the most amazing moment.”

Moments like these reveal just how much deeper than a label on a bag of coffee or sweatshirt Fair Trade USA’s work goes. When we hear “fair trade,” it’s easy to simply acknowledge that a label like that ensures ethical practices and fair business, but the actual work of Fair Trade USA is much more intricate and weighty than that.

Read the full story about Fair Trade USA by Arielle Dreher at Global Washington.