Our Shakti entrepreneurship programme launched in India in 2001, giving women an opportunity to earn an income selling Unilever products door-to-door in isolated rural communities. Since then, Shakti has grown enormously. It now provides more than 100,000 women in countries including India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Guatemala, Myanmar and Colombia with training and work, allowing them to increase their income, their standing in society and their share of voice in household decision-making.
We’re sharing the learnings from women’s safety initiatives in place at our tea plantations in Kericho, Kenya and Assam, India, too.
Last year, as part of our partnership with UN Women, we launched a framework entitled A Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces (PDF | 7MB), outlining how we improved conditions for thousands of women in tea estates by working with them – and the men on the plantations – to shift norms, creating safe workplaces for all.
We supported plantation workers to set up networks which ensure managers at these vast estates are informed and educated about the challenges faced by women working in the fields. Following their input, we’ve introduced regular women-only bus services so they can feel safer on their way to and from work. We’ve also improved lighting, set up safe places for women to breastfeed their babies and provided daycare for young children.
“The women workers are our most valuable resource,” says Unilever Procurement Manager Daleram Gulia. “They are also someone’s daughter, mother, sister. Safety and feeling safe are a basic human right in the workplace and in all spaces.”