Women in Africa represent around 45 percent of workers in horticulture, mainly as lower-skilled workers in farms and plantations in global supply chain networks, so remarked at a meeting held by the United Nations Foundation in collaboration with BSR and Her + project in Nairobi, Kenya.
Held with the theme ‘Workplace Women’s Health and Empowerment’ the meeting indicated that women working in agricultural supply chains in Africa often lack basic health information and services needed to live healthy, productive lives, and often face discrimination and challenges to advancement in the workplace.
It was stated at the meeting that women dominate in the sectors — floriculture (75-80%), coffee (70%), tea and cocoa (50%).
It was also noted that lack of access to health care and equality harms not only women workers but also the companies employing them as they see higher rates of absenteeism and turnover and lower rates of productivity.
During the meeting experiences of some companies such as Twinings were raised as an exemplary practice with regard to realizing the importance of investing in the health and empowerment of women workers in Kenya. The company is implementing project with smallholder farmers and tea workers in Kenya, most of whom are women. “Twinings works to provide them with information on reproductive health and family planning, sexually transmitted infections, menstrual hygiene, pre-and post-natal care, nutrition, and non-communicable diseases.”
During the meeting Twinings Social Impact Head Celine Gilart said that healthier, empowered and sustainable communities are essential to ensuring strong supply chains, but also working to improve lives in supply chain is the right thing to do. When women and girls thrive, so do the societies. Thus, it is worth empowering women in Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table, living room and indoorthe supply chain through health and education.
At a session themed ‘how are business associations taking action to empower workers and farmers?’ Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA) Executive Director Tewodros Zewdie, who was also one of the panelists, pointed out that Ethiopia’s horticulture sector is identified with a lot of success stories in spite of its age. The road ahead is bright for the sector as the government introduced incentives particularly for the sector in the last couple of years.
EHPEA has been taking multiple actions towards improving women’s health and empowerment at workplace, he indicated that modest achievements have been made in a relevant project on women health and empowerment.