WSAF concludes 16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls across 350 tea estates

IDH’s Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund (WSAF) recently concluded a 16-day campaign dedicated to eradicating violence against women and girls in tea gardens, culminating on December 10, 2023, to coincide with Human Rights Day.

In collaboration with Tea Estate Managements and various government departments, including labor, education, law, social welfare, rural development, and police, WSAF orchestrated the campaign across 350 tea estates in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, where the WSAF program is being implemented.

Over these 16 days, more than 400 events unfolded, drawing the active participation of over 25,000 individuals. These diverse activities encompassed equality football matches, cycle rallies, human chains, poster competitions, debates, signature campaigns, pledges, moving theatre with a caravan, art installations, street theatre shows, radio programs, round table discussions, and more.

These events were strategically designed to illuminate prevalent issues such as early marriage, domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, and witch hunting, with a specific emphasis on the distinctive challenges confronted by women in tea gardens.

The tea gardens have been witnessing various forms of gender-based discrimination and violence. Rates of early marriage, teenage pregnancy, trafficking, domestic violence, harassment in public places (both inside and outside the tea gardens), child sexual abuse, rape, female feticide, and infanticide in cases of unwanted pregnancies are high and women working in tea gardens often endure domestic abuse.

The WSAF initiative operates within the tea value chain across the four states, collaborating with government programs, tea producers’ associations, unions, and local NGOs to establish safe and empowering workplaces for women workers, to foster sustainable, long-term shifts that address violence against women and girls within the tea supply chain.

WSAF derives its strength from the comprehensive UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights, making this year’s campaign particularly significant, 2023 being the 75th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By addressing the unique challenges faced by women in tea gardens, WSAF is not only effecting change at a local level but also contributing to the global endeavor to eliminate violence against women and promote gender equality.