Gender Equality and Sustainable Development in the Tea Sector

Mercy Wangechi a tea farmer afliated to Gathuthi Tea Factory on her farm in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

As major players in the industry increasingly acknowledge the pivotal role that women play in tea production, we are intensifying our efforts to empower women, promote gender equality, and foster inclusive growth.
This commitment has resulted in the development and implementation of inclusive recruitment policies, ensuring equal opportunities for women to advance in their careers and supporting work-life balance. By tapping into a diverse talent pool, we aim to cultivate a culture of equality and empowerment within our member organizations, striving for 50 per cent inclusion of women.
Investing in the professional development and skills training of female employees is essential for unlocking their full potential. To this end, we have introduced programs offering mentorship, leadership training, and technical skills development for women. These initiatives enable women to assume leadership roles, contribute meaningfully to decision-making processes, and drive innovation and growth within the industry.
Recognising the critical role that women play in sustainable agriculture and food security, especially as primary caregivers and food producers in rural communities, we are engaging women and girls in initiatives promoting sustainable farming practices. These initiatives aim to improve access to resources and markets while enhancing food security for local communities. By empowering women as key stakeholders in agricultural production, we seek to ensure the long-term viability of the tea sector and contribute to the well-being and resilience of rural communities.
Capacity building is paramount to unlocking the sector's full potential. Education serves as a powerful tool for empowering women and girls, enabling them to overcome barriers, expand their opportunities, and contribute to economic development.
Consequently, we are investing in programs that provide access to quality education and training for women and girls, including scholarships, vocational training, and entrepreneurship programs. By equipping women with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, we aim to transform individual lives and drive social and economic progress in tea-growing regions.
The tea sector has a unique opportunity to enhance its contribution to women's economic empowerment, gender equality, and sustainable development by fostering a more inclusive, equitable, and thriving ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders. As we progress towards a future where women are empowered to lead, innovate, and drive change, the tea sector is poised to establish new benchmarks for gender equality and sustainable development in Kenya and beyond.
[The Author is the CEO of the Kenya Tea Growers Association.]

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