Since it’s International Women’s Day today it felt right to provide an update on how ETP is promoting gender equality and tackling issues of harassment and discrimination in Kenya. The theme of this year’s event is ‘Make it Happen’, and that’s what our Kenyan team have been doing over the past few years.

Harassment and discrimination are two issues covered by international standards that aren’t readily dealt with by traditional auditing and monitoring. That’s why we have been running training programmes over the past few years to address these issues and empower female workers.

Since 2013 we’ve been rolling out Supervisor Management Training developed by the Ethical Trading Initiative, to 66 Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) factories reaching more than 1,000 staff members including supervisors, management representatives, and workers.

A mid-term evaluation of the programme last year showed that staff awareness about gender equality and harassment issues has increased considerably. In addition each of the factories has set up a gender committee with female representation on, which allow employees to air grievances and hopefully resolve disputes. Factories have reported how these committees have given workers the confidence to report cases of harassment or abuse – something that may not have happened prior to the training.

As well as rolling out the Supervisor Management Training across KTDA factories we’ve also delivered it to 5 privately owned factories reaching a further 240 people (managers, supervisors, field & factory workers, accountants, and clerks etc). Some of the programme’s benefits, as observed by ETP’s Regional Manager for Africa, Joseph Wagurah, include:

  • Workers and management understand what equal opportunities means
  • Workers have more confidence about raising discrimination and harassment issues
  • Conflict resolution has improved, which means workers and management are able to resolve conflicts amicably
  • Gender committees have been set sup that allow serious complaints to be investigated and resolved
  • Housing allocation committees have been formed in some factories to prevent abuse of the system
  • In addition, these committee can also recommend the removal of any person from company residence if found guilty of domestic violence until they are fully reformed

Given the success of the training, we are already making plans to roll out the training to other tea producing countries in Africa and beyond.

Also, in India we’re partnering with UNICEF on a 3-year project that will equip more than 25,000 girls with the knowledge and “life skills” that will help them secure a better future and reduce their vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation. Find out more.