A one-day symposium on promotion of child rights in the tea-estates of Assam, marked the formal launch of a new partnership between UNICEF and Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) to help protect and change the lives of children and young people living in tea gardens in Assam.
The project, supported by the Government of Assam, Assam Branch of India Tea Association (ABITA), and the Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP), is the first of its kind as it brings together key stakeholders in the tea-industry-both public and private organisations and the supply chain to tackle child abuse and exploitation across the tea-sector.
Dr Tushar Rane, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam, speaking at the launch, said, 'Child protection interventions in the tea-communities of Assam are of significant importance. The tea communities contribute 51 per cent of India's tea-production but remain marginalised.'
Women and children from the tea-garden form a core focus area of UNICEF's social inclusion and equity programming in the State and the new partnership will build upon the existing interventions in the tea-gardens, he added.
The 3-year programme (2015-2017) will work with families in over 100 tea-gardens and 350 villages to empower and safeguard young people, provide life-skill training and education to nearly 25,000 girls and 10,000 community members to protect themselves against abuse and exploitation and strengthen child protection systems with local and national government and empower the tea industry to support positive change.
Ms Runumi Gogoi, Chairperson, Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), congratulated the stakeholders for taking this joint initiative of strengthening the child protection measures with particular focus on tea-tribes of Assam.
She also highlighted the need for a multi-pronged approach to strengthen child protection measures and the need for up-scaling the initiatives across the tea-garden community.
Although the project will be active in only select tea-gardens, the objective is that the impact will be sector-wide as the project aims to bring about systemic change through good-practice guidelines on child protection in the tea estates, responsible business practices for tea-estates, and support to the overall child protection structures and systems.
Ms Diya Sharma, ETP, in her speech, congratulated the strong coalition of companies and organisations that have joined together to address some of the deep-rooted protection issues in the tea-garden.
The UNICEF-ETP project is supported and funded by tea companies: Tata Global Beverages, Taylors of Harrogate, OTG, and Typhoo; UK retailer Tesco; and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. UNI SG AKM SS NNNN
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