Protecting women and girls
Women form the majority of the workforce in tea gardens and smallholder farms, but are often at risk of discrimination, harassment and sometimes even violence. A key priority for us is to ensure that women in our supply chain live and work in a safe, positive and empowering environment where they can thrive.
Our Sourced with Care programme is working in Assam and Darjeeling to provide a safer environment for women and girls, by empowering them, building management capacity to address these issues and promoting more gender-equitable attitudes and relationships.
Since 2010, in partnership with UNICEF, we have established Adolescent Girls Groups across 63 tea gardens in Assam, India, to address a range of issues affecting young women and girls living on tea estates. The groups provide a protective environment where adolescent girls and young women can learn about their rights and safely discuss important issues, including alcohol and substance abuse, prevention of domestic violence, child marriage, gender-based violence and high school dropout rates.
In addition to this, adolescent girls have the chance to participate in activities such as life skills training, peer leader training and exposure visits to service and government institutions, so they are better equipped to protect themselves and their peers from all forms of harm and to access better opportunities
In addition, we are working to train tea estate management and build the capacity of worker committees in Assam and Darjeeling. As part of the training, we aim to empower workers to help prevent and respond to sexual harassment and gender-based violence, as well as to promote more gender-equitable attitudes and relationships in the community. We are also developing an online training module which will be rolled out across our supply chain.
While we aim to prevent gender-based violence, we also need to have the right approach in place to enable us to identify when a breach occurs. These issues are very difficult to uncover because victims can sometimes be too embarrassed to speak up or fear repercussions. In 2021, we piloted an add-on to our TCNA to find new ways to help us better identify gender-based violence or harassment incidents in our supply chain, for example through role play.
What we have achieved
- Reached more than 34,000 young women with interventions centred on empowerment and child protection in Assam.
- More than 15,000 girls participated in life skills development initiatives.
- 68% of school dropouts re-enrolled and 65 cases of child marriage averted in last three years.
- Management in 20 tea gardens trained in prevention and response to sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
After attending meetings of her local Adolescent Girls Group, Hina convinced her parents she was not ready to be married and should complete her education.
Now a graduate, she attends computer classes in a nearby town, tutors schoolchildren from her community and aspires to be a beautician.