"Being a part of an AGG has boosted my confidence."
Since 2010, Twinings works with Unicef in Assam, India, to improve the nutrition, overall health and opportunities for young people living in tea gardens.
Facilitating access to protection and health services for women and children in Assam, India
Twinings and UNICEF are working together to improve the lives of the most vulnerable women and children living in 63 tea gardens in Assam, which have a total population of 350,000. Our partnership has already reached over 34,000 adolescent girls, through nutrition, empowerment and protection interventions.
Through our active presence on the ground, we identified that because of the lack of access to education, early employment opportunities and robust child protection measures, girls and young women like Binita, who live on the estates with their parents, are more likely to enter into marriage at a young age, or be trafficked. This, combined with high rates of anaemia, often leads to high maternal mortality rates, under-nourishment and low learning levels.
Our programme with UNICEF has established a number of Adolescent Groups (AGG) on the estates through which girls in particular benefits from weekly life skills training session (critical thinking; confidence and self-esteem), but also from a place where they can discuss important topics.
Binita is an active member of her local Adolescent Girls Group and plays a key role in the community by empowering others.
“Being part of the AGG has also given the girls of my community and tea estate a platform to discuss, share and learn about topics such as menstrual hygiene, which is still considered a taboo in our society."
The project has also seen a 21% decline in the prevalence of anaemia following community-based interventions on nutrition, such as distribution of Iron Folic Acid and development of kitchen gardens.
As a result, AGG members are now more confident and can make informed decisions, access better opportunities, and protect themselves and their peers from all forms of harm. The groups also discuss issues such as gender-based violence, and gender and sexuality.
On each garden, child protection committees have been set up to protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse. Over the last 3 years, 68% of the school drop-outs have been re-enrolled into schools and 52 cases of child marriage averted. These structures are essential for the sustainability of the programme and lasting behaviour change.
“My mother is a tea-plucker and in her profession, drinking salt tea was a practice to quench thirst during plucking in the field. Through the nutrition awareness sessions, I learnt that too much salt tea is not good for health, especially for anaemia and high blood pressure. I have shared this information with her and her friends know about it too.”