In September 2014, Unicef and the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) joined together to form a ground breaking collaboration to help protect and change the lives of children and young people living in tea communities in Assam.
The partnership brings together all key stakeholders in the tea industry – public and private organisations and the supply chain – to tackle child exploitation across the sector. Through peer support and education the partnership is working to reach 25,000 girls and 10,000 community members over three years to help protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation including trafficking and unsafe migration.
The partnership is working with over 350 tea communities across more than 100 estates in three districts in Assam, to ensure effective and positive change for children. This project is strengthening child protection systems with local and national government and empowering the tea industry to support positive change.
To date, almost 300 Child Protection Committees have been formed to support child protection at the tea garden level. More than 350 Adolescent Girl’s Groups have also been established or strengthened, with over 14,000 members. The groups educate girls on child abuse, exploitation, and violence, provide life skills training, such as negotiation skills and communication skills, and empower them to participate in decision-making that impacts their lives.
Training has been provided across over 56 tea estates on child protection issues for community leaders and other key stakeholders, including Mothers Group members, frontline health workers, and Self Help Group members.This will help ensure children and families are better informed about child protection issues.
Sarah Roberts, Executive Director of the ETP, said: "We want to create a thriving future for everyone involved in tea by tackling the root causes of social and environmental problems. Unicef’s expertise will help the tea industry to build a better future for tens of thousands of children in communities growing some of the world’s favourite tea, by improving their knowledge and skills and reducing their vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation. Problems such as these can’t be tackled by any one organisation on their own and we are delighted to be part of such a strong coalition."
The programme is supported and funded by IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative; ETP members, Tesco, OTG (Meßmer), Tata Global Beverages (Tetley, Tata Tea), and Taylors of Harrogate (Yorkshire Tea); and Typhoo.