Two New Global Businesses Commit to Reaching Nearly 160,000 Women Workers in Global Supply Chains with Essential Health Care
United Nations Foundation welcomes new commitment makers and reports on progress from 20 private sector companies providing health care to women workers amid COVID-19 pandemic
Two global businesses today announced new commitments to improve the health and well-being of almost 160,000 women, covering mostly women workers, women dependents of employees and women in surrounding communities, in India and Kenya by offering information and services on reproductive health, family planning, protection from violence, and more.
Tata Coffee Ltd., one of the world’s largest integrated coffee companies, and KTDA Foundation, the not-for-profit subsidiary of the Kenya Tea Development Agency, join 19 other commitment-makers that together have committed to reach more than 2 million women workers and community members primarily focused in 17 countries. The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project, which leads the Private Sector Action for Women’s Health and Empowerment initiative, also published today its 2021 Progress Report on the status of these commitments, finding companies standing by their commitments to women workers despite pandemic disruptions and delays.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to lay bare how essential access to quality health care is for all people to thrive,” said Seema Jalan, Executive Director of the Universal Access Project. “I’m encouraged to see even more companies stepping up to meet women workers where they are – in the workplace – with health care information and services, even in the midst of the pandemic that has impacted so many industries. Women make up the backbone of global supply chains, and our health and rights are essential in rebuilding a post-pandemic world.”
Details of the commitments are as follows:
Tata Coffee Ltd. has committed by 2025 to improve the health and well-being of 7,500 women across Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu compromising of their employees, women dependents of employees, and women in the surrounding tribal communities -- with an emphasis on reproductive health and family planning, menstrual hygiene, anemia and nutrition, maternal health, and overall physical and mental health.
“Tata Coffee is committed to the wellbeing of its employees and communities,” said Dr. Chandru CKN, Chief Medical Officer, Tata Coffee Limited. “We believe that by empowering our women employees through various initiatives such as health and hygiene improvement programs, nutritional support, pre-natal and post-natal care, and a strict implementation of an anti-sexual harassment policy, we will be able to build a healthy society. We are equally committed to extending our services to ensure the health of the women and adolescents in the communities we operate in, mainly the tribal population.”
KTDA Foundation commits by June 2023 to reach 300,000 smallholder tea farmers and farm workers, including at least 150,000 women, with services and information on reproductive health, GBV, family planning and physical well-being through onsite programs and education and expanded access to health providers.
“Women are close to 60 percent of our workers. Women should have access to all the health and social benefits we as an institution can provide for them, as it will both support their health and rights and make our business more sustainable,” said Sudi Matara, Head of KTDA Foundation and Sustainability. “The productivity of the tea business is highly impacted by the health of farmers, hence we need programs that boost their well-being.”
These new commitments are in addition to four in early 2021 from Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), the second-largest tea producer in India; Arvind Ltd., a global textiles leader; Novartis sub-Saharan Africa, a division of a global pharmaceutical company; and Mt. Kenya West Women in Coffee (WESTWIC), a women-led membership organization of coffee estates and cooperatives in Kenya.
The 2021 Progress Report is based on self-reporting from commitment-makers on their progress in the last years, and documents that all companies and business organizations stand by their commitments – even though for most, the timetable and path for achieving their goals has lengthened and taken new turns in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies report adapting plans and programming to reflect the new global reality, and for many, the structures and personnel used for their health education and empowerment trainings could be repurposed for the pandemic response, from workplace vaccinations, to increased focus on preventing gender-based violence and supporting mental health, to piloting and expanding telemedicine and virtual outreach.
“To see companies standing by their commitments in turbulent times underscores just how critical it is for business to meet the health and well-being needs of their workforces,” added Jalan. “This is about putting women in the driver’s seat of their own health, lives and futures. With that as the foundation, companies are also investing in women’s ability to make even greater contributions to the workforce and society.”
The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project is leading the Private Sector Action for Women’s Health and Empowerment initiative to work with companies that have large global supply chains employing millions of women workers to improve the health and well-being of their workers. To learn more about these commitments and explore the business case for investing in workplace women’s health and empowerment, visit www.privatesectoractionforwomenshealth.com.
About the Universal Access Project
The Universal Access Project, a project of the United Nations Foundations, convenes an innovative community of philanthropists, advocates and companies striving for a world where all people can realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Learn more at www.universalaccessproject.org
About the United Nations Foundation The UN Foundation is an independent charitable organization created to be a strategic partner for the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges, build initiatives across sectors to solve problems at scale, and drive global progress. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org