Enabling women's health and empowerment
Adequate healthcare can sometimes be hard to get for rural communities in our supply chain, either because it is not available in the nearest health facility or because social barriers and cultural norms make it difficult to access. This doesn’t just have detrimental effects on women’s health.
As our TCNAs have found, it also puts pressure on family finances, as illness and high fertility rates reduce productivity leading to lower income. We work with partners in Kenya, India and South Africa to raise health awareness and improve access to services, particularly reproductive health and family planning.
In Kenya, Twinings has been working with BSR’s HERhealth project since 2016. Through peer health educators, the project has provided thousands of women tea workers and farmers with information on reproductive health and family planning, sexually transmitted infections, menstrual hygiene, pre- and post-natal care, nutrition, and non-communicable diseases.
We have seen significant improvements in use of family planning methods, awareness of HIV transmission from mother to child and an increase in tendency to seek access to medical facilities. This not only helps women to be healthier, but also enables them to live an empowered life. There are benefits for farms as well, with less absenteeism, increased productivity and better relationships between workers and management.
We have also been partnering with producers, BSR’s HERproject and the UN Foundation’s Universal Access Project (since 2019) to advocate for, invest in, and implement women’s health initiatives in the workplace and co-hosted workshops to encourage producers to integrate new approaches within their own systems and procedures.
Access to health services is another key area of focus. We have been working with local partners in Kenya, India (Darjeeling) and South Africa, to reach remote communities in our supply chain with mobile clinics, providing convenient and adequate access to health services, with a specific focus on women’s health needs.
In Kenya, we are also piloting an innovative model in partnership with local partners and the USAID-funded SHOPS Plus project to increase access to health services for women tea farmers. The project brought together public and private partners to refurbish and support a local health facility and strengthened a local women’s savings and lending group. The women’s group channels a portion of its revenue to the facility and helps oversee the facility to ensure it meets the community’s needs.
It is critical that companies make measurable, public commitments, as Twinings has done, to become accountable for addressing the essential health needs of women in their supply chains. In Kenya and India – through Twinings’ commitment – over 100,000 women workers will receive by 2023 the reproductive health education and services they need and which are vital for bodily autonomy, economic resilience and professional advancement. We hope many other companies do likewise.”
Executive Director, Universal Access Project
What we have achieved
Reached more than 100,000 women in our supply chain through initiatives to improve their health.
HERhealth project in Kenya has reached more than 37,000 women.
100% of women who participated in the HERhealth project are now able to name a family planning method (up from 30%), 77% have knowledge of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (up from 9.5%) and 86% can name three or more pregnancy risk factors (up from 11%).
Refurbished the Chepsire Health Dispensary as part of an innovative pilot model that has the potential to increase health access across tea sites in Kenya and beyond.
Mother of three and tea plucker, Irene, lives in Kenya.
I gave birth to my three children every year one after the other, and I realized this was affecting my health and leading to low productivity at my workplace. I was determined to find a way of stopping giving birth because it weakened me, and I realized the burden that came with having a big family.”
Through the HERhealth programme, Irene gained new skills and knowledge that enabled her to speak to her husband about family planning. Today Irene uses a contraceptive that works for her, and she and her husband have decided not to have more children.
I now live happily with my husband,”