Raise your cup to improving the lives of women and young girls cross Tea Communities!
A nation of tea drinkers, I sit here with my cup and saucer in my hand. We all become so comfortable with our daily rituals that sometimes I think we need to stop and remind ourselves, the things that we enjoy almost effortlessly do not come to others so easily.
With regard to the tea industry, women make up the largest proportion of the workforce but often have very few opportunities to progress within their profession. More worryingly, tea is grown in areas where women and young girls are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Although, I am pleased to say that there is a new initiative whereby the Ethical Tea Partnership are going to tackle and address both aspects of this problem.
“In Kenya, our three-year programme on improving opportunities for women and reducing harassment and exploitation has been rolled out across 65 Kenyan Tea Development Agency factories. As a result, new opportunities have opened up for women, resulting in changes that even surprised our ever dynamic and optimistic Kenyan project manager, Jane Nyambura: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I arrived at the factory and saw women driving the trucks that pick up the green leaf!”
Equally as important “there has been a substantial change in attitudes at all levels – from the boardroom to the factory floor – in terms of understanding and dealing with discrimination and harassment of women. Gender committees have been established at every factory to ensure that there are effective systems in place to identify and deal with any problems facing women.”
Sarah Roberts, Executive Director of the Ethical TeaPartnership describes the current situation in India whereby “43% of girls getting married before they are 18 and over 40% of all children failing to complete eight years of education, young women from rural communities are left with few choices. This increases their vulnerability to trafficking and offers of work in cities, which mostly turn out to be highly exploitative.”
The ETP three-year partnership with UNICEF was developed to tackle these issues and improve the life chances of 25,000 girls in Assam. I’m pleased to say that “everyone who has been involved with this work has been enormously impressed with the changes that they have witnessed in the confidence of the young women involved in the program to take charge of their destinies and their potential to act as agents of change in their communities. Tea estate managers are hugely supportive of the programme and its ability to reduce trafficking and exploitation in their localities.”
On this basis I think that we should all raise our cup of tea to all of the women who have been involved in producing your tea!
For more information on this subject or if you would like to know more about the progress and outcome of such initiatives then please do visit…