Since 2010, Twinings and Unicef have been working in partnership to improve the lives of girls and young women living on tea estates in Assam, India.
Many young girls living on tea estates in Assam are anaemic due to poor diet, leading to low learning levels, malnutrition and high maternal and infant mortality rates. Girls and young women living on tea estates are vulnerable to a range of child protection issues, including abuse, child marriage, poor school attendance and high dropout rates, and child trafficking.
So far, the programme has reached more than 34,000 young women, directly and indirectly, with interventions centred on nutrition, empowerment and child protection. Together, Unicef and Twinings have helped to:
- Reduce anaemia by 21 per cent through the distribution of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets and the creation of health food shops and kitchen gardens.
- Ensure that 10,817 young girls have the knowledge, skills and confidence to protect themselves, increase the options open to them and enable them to make informed decisions about their future through the creation of Adolescent Girls’ Groups.
- Form 63 Child Protection Committees, which strengthen child protection mechanisms and open up dialogue within the community.
Advocacy with local government remains a key element of Unicef’s work in order to influence policy reform and improve protection and basic services at state and national level so that these changes are sustainable and scalable.
This year, Twinings renewed its commitment to Unicef for a further five years. The new phase of the partnership aims to improve the lives of the most vulnerable women and children living in 63 tea gardens in Assam. The programme will promote a protective environment in which adolescent girls and boys are encouraged to stay in school and ensure that women and children have access to quality health services and social protection schemes.
This involves working with communities, tea garden management and local government to: build the capacity of healthcare staff and child marriage prohibition officers; promote kitchen gardens; improve sanitation and hygiene practices; provide life skills education for adolescent girls; and create and strengthen community-based platforms such as Adolescent Groups, Mother’s Groups and Child Protection Committees.
Bob Tavener, CEO, Twinings said: “Our renewed partnership with UNICEF builds on the successes of the past eight years and represents an even more ambitious programme to improve the standard of living of tea workers, and that of their families, through access to vital basic services such as quality healthcare. It includes advocacy with both state and national government that should lead to long-term, tangible change for the communities living and working in the region and is an important part of driving positive change for the communities from which we source around the world.”