Today, four companies announced new commitments to improve the health and well-being of their women workers in global supply chains by providing health information and services including access to contraception, maternal health care, menstrual hygiene, and protection from harassment. These new commitments from Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), Arvind Ltd., Mt. Kenya West Women In Coffee (WESTWIC), and Novartis Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will reach a combined 100,000 women workers and community members over the next four years:
Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), the second-largest tea producer in India, commits to nurture a healthy, hygienic, and safe workplace and community for 35,000 women workers and community members in India by providing family planning and reproductive health services across 25 tea estates of Assam and Dooars in West Bengal by 2025. "At APPL, we believe that empowering our women workers and our communities through health and well-being programs, including reproductive health and protection from violence, enables people to make their own decisions about their lives and futures,” said Mr. Vikram Singh Gulia, MD & CEO of APPL.
Arvind Ltd., a global leader in textiles, commits to providing sexual and reproductive health information and services for 12,000 of its women workers across three states (Gujarat, Karnataka, and Jharkhand) in India by 2024. “Working for improvement in social conditions for people has been the inherent value at Arvind,” said Mr. Punit Lalbhai, Executive Director of Arvind Ltd. “This has led to every manufacturing facility incorporating health and empowerment programs at their premises as our apparel value chain has a majority of women workers. We commit to undertake programs for the overall wellbeing of women workers in general and provide information on physical health, inner wellbeing, and life skills in particular with all our women workforce.”
Mt. Kenya West Women In Coffee (WESTWIC), a women-led organization of 50 coffee estates and cooperatives, commits to reaching 15,000 coffee workers, 70% of whom are women, with family planning, reproductive health, nutrition, and other health information and services by 2024. “Women's full participation in public, economic, and political life is a necessary condition for gender equity and justice,” said Margaret Mithamo, President of WESTWIC. “Health is a key part of this, and we're glad to support programs that address reproductive health and family planning needs for thousands of women in the coffee industry in Kenya."
Novartis SSA commits to reaching 40,000 workers, community members, and schoolgirls, including 20,000 women workers, in small- and medium-sized enterprises and surrounding communities with health education, products, and services on reproductive health and family planning in at least five countries in East, West, and Central Africa through its Healthy Family Program by 2023. “Our overall ambition is to reach as many workers in various partner companies’ workplaces and communities as possible to improve people’s lives through access to health education and affordable products,” said Racey Muchilwa, Head of Novartis, Sub-Saharan Africa. “Women are at the heart of it all, as an integral part of our communities. When you educate a woman, you educate the entire village. Women's all-round development – their reproductive health, safety and mental wellness – is a top priority for us.”
These commitments, announced on Wednesday, February 3 at the virtual International Conference on Family Planning’s 2021 Not Without FP Forum, are part of the Universal Access Project’s Private Sector Action for Women’s Health and Empowerment Initiative, which to date has worked with 19 companies to make commitments to reach more than 850,000 women workers and community members with health and well-being information and services over the next decade. These commitments are the just the beginning: transparency and accountability will be critical in ensuring sustainable, long-term change centered on the needs and priorities of workers themselves.
Want to learn more? Get in touch here.