In 2010 Twinings began a partnership with Unicef to improve the life of girls and young women living on tea estates in Assam, India.
Many young girls living on tea estates with family members are anaemic, due to poor diet, leading to low learning levels, malnutrition and high maternal and infant mortality rates. In the first three years, the project aimed to significantly reduce the prevalence of anaemia in adolescent girls and women by addressing the underlying factors responsible for their poor nutrition status, complemented by life skills education. Though the distribution of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets and the creation of health food shops and kitchen gardens, anaemia has been reduced by 14 percent. Adolescent Girls Groups have also been set up, which build and strengthen skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication, inter-personal relationships, self-awareness, empathy and coping skills. With these new skills girls are now better equipped to protect themselves and their peers from all form of harm and potentially access better opportunities.
To complement this important work Unicef has worked with government and helped to bring development issues related to children and women on tea communities into the State’s development agenda.
In 2014, Twinings extended their partnership with Unicef to strengthen the protective environment and promote anaemia prevention for this vulnerable group; the addition of a protection element makes this an innovative holistic approach.
Girls on tea estates are vulnerable to a range of child protection issues from abuse, early marriage, school dropouts and trafficking. The new approach is building on the core work of the initial phase and also helps adolescent girls understand their rights and keep themselves safe, whilst also establishing support groups to look out for them within the community. This is achieved through the establishment of Adolescent Girls’ Groups on each tea estate, where girls learn life skills and are encouraged to look out for one another; and Child Protection Committees, who play the key part of the protection network within the community by identifying and addressing child protection issues. The whole programme now covers 63 estates and aims to directly reach more than 5,000 adolescent girls, who will in turn reach out as peer supporters to the other adolescent girls living in their tea estates, an estimated population of 34,000.
This holistic approach to child protection – in combining nutrition with protection – is an innovative way of improving the lives of girls and young women on tea estates and is delivering great sustainable change.
Celine Gilart, CSR Manager at Twinings, said: “Twinings has decided to work with Unicef because they are able to engage all levels of government and the industry to bring about sustainable change and they are therefore a key player in helping us drive positive change in our supply chain.”