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TAML Holds A 2nd Gender Symposium

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Tea Association of Malawi Limited (TAML) held its 2nd Gender Learning and Sustainability Symposium. This year's Symposium was held in Salima at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel on 20th-21st November 2020 under the theme "Promoting Gender Equality and Eradicating Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Malawi Tea Industry". The Activity was made possible with financial and technical support from our partners (International Labour Organization {ILO}, IDH-Sustainable Trade Initiative, Oxfam and Women's Legal Resource Centre {WOLREC}).

Speaking at the Symposium TAML's Board Chair Mr. Sangwani Hara underscored the need for collective efforts in eradicating sexual harassment and violence in the Tea Sector. Hara made the remarks whilst acknowledging the reports of sexual harassment and violence in Tea Estates, he urged stakeholders to work together to eradicate the vice.

“Somewhere around 2014, there were serious concerns raised by workers particularly the women. It was reported that field supervisors also known as Kapitawos were fond of asking for sexual favors from the female employees. We launched an investigation which confirmed that indeed we had sexual harassment issues. This is when we decided to develop an industry-wide Gender Equality, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy. The policy was launched in 2017 and we are now in the implementation phase. So far we are pleased with the progress that we have made. However, we are imploring all stakeholders in the tea industry to join the fight against gender based violence and sexual harassment." said Hara.

On her part Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati who was the guest of honor at the symposium urged the sector to address gender gaps by among others supporting education interventions in the concerned areas. She said corporate-social responsibilities should focus on education infrastructure so that children living in tea growing communities should have access to education.

“Women and girl child harassment is so rampant in the tea industry. The symposium today was looking into how best we can eradicate this. We are looking forward to implementing the existing policies just as the sustainable development goal number 3. There are a number of reports in the tea estates of Mulanje Thyolo and Nkhatabay-whereby women and girls have to exchange jobs for sex. So we are saying let’s end this abuse. Let us protect our women and girls. We should employ people according to merit. One way of ending this abuse is focusing the corporate-social responsibility programs towards education so that women and girls have access to education in the catchment areas. Through education women will be empowered and they will be able to say no to abuse.” Said Kaliati.

Also speaking at the symposium Plantation and Agriculture Workers Union (PAWU) President Gracian Khembo said he was encouraged with the good progress registered in the fight against gender based violence in the Tea Sector.

The theme for the symposium was promoting gender equality and eradicating sexual harassment and violence in Malawi.

‘Whilst, we acknowledge the changes the industry has seen in response sexual harassment and violence in the Tea industry we are still calling for action more to be done. There is a need for increased civic education among workers in order to encourage the spirit of opening up and reporting gender based cases.” Said Khembo.

One of the Malawi Tea 2020 Revitalization Programme partners working with TAML in the tea industry is IDH-Sustainable Trade Initiative. IDH’s Country Representative Daisy Kambalame had this to say “promoting gender equality in the Tea industry is key in ending sexual harassment and violence. The key thing is about productivity. We all know that a happy worker is the one who is going to be productive. So one of the things we have been focusing on is creating an environment where women also feel safe within that work space. And also men should understand the responsibilities that they carry, especially those men with positions of influence and power because this can help create a better and more conducive environment for workers which in turn promote the issue of productivity that we are talking about and also encourages better returns. So for us gender empowerment and removing of sexual harassment within the work space is a very key area when we look at revitalization of the industry.”

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