Together with its partners, IDH has been working to significantly reduce the occurrence of GBV in the Kenyan tea industry by addressing issues such as awareness, female leadership and financial literacy.

Gender Empowerment Platform

The Gender Empowerment Platform (GEP) is a sector-wide platform where tea companies and civil society players collaborate to address the complex and sensitive social sustainability issue of gender discrimination and violence.

The GEP was launched in 2017 with the following members, representing the majority of the companies in the Kenyan tea industry: Unilever Tea Kenya, James Finlays Kenya, Eastern Produce Kenya, Kenya Tea Development Agency, Sotik Tea, IDH, Ethical Tea Partnership and Gender Violence Recovery Centre. UN Women has provided technical support to the GEP throughout the entire period.

The GEP partners have worked towards an ambitious goal: reducing the occurrence of GBV, as well as increasing women’s empowerment in the Kenyan tea industry by 2020.

Under the Gender Empowerment Platform, Finlays has continued to partner with the government both at the national and county level in strengthening prevention, mitigation and response to GBV, and is proud to have completed the construction of the child Protection Unit at Kericho Police Station.

Simeon Hutchinson, Managing Director, James Finlays Kenya


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  • 85%

    of Kenyan tea companies in a leading and agenda-setting platform on gender equality and GBV

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  • 1st-ever

    gender policies and committees in tea factories

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  • 28.7%

    reduction in GBV reported incidents

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  • 17.500

    plantation workers reached

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  • 50.000+

    smallholders reached

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  • €2m+

    public and private investment in GBV prevention

  • 1st-ever

    Roadmap and Common Training Manual to address GBV in Kenya

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  • 3,000

    workers benefited from financial inclusion projects

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  • 20,000

    farmers benefited from financial inclusion projects

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The type of conversations we have with the companies have really progressed since the start of the GEP. Through the GEP platform we have been able to create a safe atmosphere for constructive conversations and insightful exchanges on how GBV issues are being dealt with in one plantation versus the other.

Judith Fraats, senior program manager at IDH

Learn more about what we achieved


The GEP has emerged as a functional multi-stakeholder partnership that has provided leadership and a common agenda to promote gender equality and address GBV in the Kenyan tea sector. The Platform has facilitated collaboration and has fostered a peer-to-peer learning environment amongst companies, including the publication of learning materials. IDH’s ability to make connections between the private sector, CSOs and expert organisations to create this common agenda and cooperation has been instrumental in setting up this collaborative environment.

Watch the video for insights from the IDH4Gender learning event in Kenya


The cooperation under the GEP has supported and incentivised tea companies to strengthen prevention and reporting mechanisms for GBV and sexual harassment. This has resulted in companies revising their policies (e.g. gender policy, sexual harassment policy, child protection policy) and formulating new complaint mechanisms for reporting GBV and sexual harassment cases.


Following collaboration with partners, the Plantation RoadmapPlantation RoadmapVisit linkwas created to provide information to tea companies on how to recognise issues around GBV and sexual harassment, and to develop sustainable interventions to prevent and respond accordingly. The training manualCommon Training ManualVisit link aligns training and awareness raising material around GBV issues.


Based on data on GBV cases reported to GEP member companies, the work under GEP has contributed significantly to the reduction of GBV occurrences in the Kenyan tea industry. This data shows a 28.7% decrease in GBV incidents between 2016 and 2019.


IDH and its partner companies have implemented four field-level projects that have reached over 17,500 plantation workers and over 50,000 smallholders. The GEP has contributed to:

Significant improvements in the knowledge of GBV prevention and response, through sensitization campaigns and awareness creation on GBV and gender rights. Workers and farmers were reached through long-term training programs, awareness-raising meetings, and school programs (among others).

Substantive progress in promoting female leadership. For example, IDH and Finlays has increased women leadership through various activitiesFinlays women in leadership program resultsVisit link such as peer-to-peer mentoring activities on management levels; this has assisted 60 young managers to grow into their new positions.

Watch the video to learn more about gender empowerment in Kenya with Finlays:


The empowerment of plantation workers and smallholder farmers through financial inclusion training. In total, over 3,000 workers and 20,000 farmers were reached through financial inclusion projectsMore about the project with UTKVisit link. These included training on household dynamics around financial management.

In the IDH and KTDA projectMore about the IDH & KTDA projectVisit link, an external evaluation suggested significant improvements in decision-making about money: the proportion of respondents that involved other family members in decision-making went up from 67.83% to 83.86%. Both projects were praised by beneficiaries for its wide-range implications; in one beneficiary’s words:

I am now knowledgeable about loans and interests, and I can hold meaningful conversations with the bank officers. I no longer go to loan sharks, instead, I save for the future, like buying a cow, and for emergencies. I have also started to make joint decisions with my wife, and we started making a contributory pay for health insurance on a monthly basis.

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IDH and its partner companies have implemented several field-level projects that have reached over 17,500 plantation workers and over 50,000 smallholders.

  • KTDA & IDH on economic empowerment and household decision-making of smallholders

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  • James Finlays Kenya, Unilever Tea Kenya & IDH on enhancing financial inclusion and female leadership of workers.

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  • KTDA, ETP & IDH on setting up factory gender committees

Through establishing gender committees and gender champions in 5 factories, we have seen increased dialogue on gender issues at the factory level, increased awareness of GBV issues amongst workers and strengthening of reporting structures.

Sudi Matara, Head of KTDA Foundation


Sharing learnings, good practices and experiences around addressing GBV and gender issues in the supply chains is critical to the success of any such initiative. This is the exact peer-to-peer learning that has been facilitated within the GEP. Now, GEP members want to share their learnings to contribute to other programs.

Find out more about our reflections


The GEP has been a functional multi-stakeholder platform that could have benefited from a broader variety of stakeholders bringing additional technical knowledge and experiences

The GEP has been built on collaboration, trust and pursuit of a common agenda through a participative process involving the tea companies. These elements are critical when tackling such a sensitive and complex issue as GBV that promotes gender mainstreaming. The GEP has incentivised tea companies to implement a sector-wide common agenda and has elevated the conversation on mainstreaming gender among leading tea-producing companies in Kenya.

GEP has proved its effectiveness as it was set up by IDH, but it could be beneficial to include more stakeholders in future sector-convening efforts. For example, including tea buyers and additional CSOs and/or government agencies could have leveraged additional technical expertise and resources towards the implementation of activities in the Kenyan tea industry GBV reduction initiative. This decision should be made on a case-by-case basis; bringing in additional stakeholders could elevate the conversation on mainstreaming gender in the sector, but it could also reduce the efficacy and trust of a platform.

While field-level projects can be considered successful, GBV remains a complex issue to address within the scope of a 5-year collaboration in a platform

GEP partners have made noticeable improvements on GBV prevention, gender-rights awareness, female leadership and financial inclusion. This is reflected in the reported reduction of GBV cases and the testimonies from beneficiaries.

Patriarchal, cultural and societal norms underlying GBV and gender inequality are deeply rooted in our society. While field-level activities have proven largely successful, GBV and gender inequality require a longer timeframe to be fully addressed. GEP partners will continue working towards this pursuit through their own company structures. It is important to recognize that there will be issues beyond the scope of actions of partner companies (both individually and together as in the GEP) that must be accounted for when measuring progress.

The necessity for a safe space has been clear and the safe space strategy well-formulated, but unresolved issues related to the feasibility and long-term sustainability of the delivery mechanism has resulted in limited progress

Establishing a safe space in Kericho has not succeeded as it has been initially envisioned in the GEP priorities. The safe space strategy has been well-formulated. Furthermore, it has benefited from the meaningful participation of all GEP members and from initial commitments made by the Kericho county government. However, the design has lacked mechanisms for assuring its feasibility and long-term sustainability. Amidst challenging market conditions in the global tea market, it has been decided to discontinue this platform activity. Several GEP companies have advanced the safe space agenda within their respective organizations; this has led to the establishment of safe spaces across multiple tea communities.

The impact research has offered insight into actions that should be considered when establishing future safe space structures. First, there is a need for more clarity around the roles & responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in the governance structure, particularly that of the private sector players and the local government. Second, the overall engagement of the government could have been explored in a more deliberate manner and incorporated into the safe space structure. The research does acknowledge that the cooperative design of a safe space is a complicated process. It is therefore pleasing to see the success of the establishment of safe spaces across tea communities by multiple GEP partners.

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The GEP ran until 2020 and all the field-level projects for the GEP formally ended in June 2021. IDH will continue working in the tea sector on gender equality and women’s safety during the 2021-2025 period.

Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund

Through the Women’s Safety Accelerator FundWomen’s Safety Accelerator FundVisit link (WSAF), investing companies address gender-based violence in agricultural value chains with a combined investment of €2 million to date. The goal is to implement the UN Women Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces and to ensure that ‘all women and girls are socially, economically, and politically empowered in rural spaces that are free from sexual harassment and other forms of violence.’ WSAF focuses on local ownership and on providing the tools, technical assistance and specialised services to strengthen prevention and response mechanisms. IDH acts as fund manager for WSAF. Initial funders are Unilever, Tesco, the Ethical Tea Partnership and IDH. Currently, WSAF is openly looking for other investors. The Fund will initially benefit over 200,000 women tea workers in Assam (India) and IDH is exploring options for scaling to other sectors and regions.

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Download the PDF with the achievements and reflections based on the final independent impact evaluation.

Read more

  • Common Training Manual
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  • Roadmap for GBV prevention and response for plantation management
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  • Financial Inclusion for Workers Including a Gender Lens
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  • The Tea and Flower Experiences: cross-learning event about gender
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