The Centre for Child Rights and Business in Sri Lanka (The Centre) is scheduled to host a conference on the 22nd November 2022, under the theme ‘Towards a Family-Friendly Tea Industry’. The one-day conference, supported by Save the Children’s Country Office in Sri Lanka, will take place in Colombo and bring together child rights specialists, women trade union activists, government entities, regional plantation companies, tea exporters, and other stakeholders from the entire tea supply chain.
The conference will provide a platform for stakeholders to share best practices and discuss how stakeholders in the tea industry could better collaborate to find solutions to existing and emerging challenges that plantation communities face. The six panel discussions will cover various topics, namely ‘Food Security and Nutrition’, ‘Child Protection’, ‘Gender Equality and Justice’, ‘Impact of Climate Change’, ‘Access to Quality Education’ and ‘Adolescent and Youth Skills Development’.
Dr. Ines Kaempfer, CEO of The Centre, emphasizes the importance of a family-friendly supply chain and its impact on businesses and communities. She states, “Children have the right to health, education, family, play and recreation, an adequate standard of living, and protection from abuse and harm. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all children. As such, businesses play an important role in either being a multiplying factor to child rights violations or an enabler of child rights.” Dr. Kaempfer further explained that this is why the private sector should invest in ensuring that their business operations and supply chains are family-friendly.
Ahila Thillainathan, Country Director for The Centre in Sri Lanka said, “This conference is one of a series of initiatives that The Centre is facilitating towards multi-stakeholder engagement to promote child rights in businesses in Sri Lanka. We have invited the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) – London School of Economics to share their experience on developing a multi-dimensional equality framework for children in the hope that it would spark new ideas and contribute towards the ongoing discussions that the ‘Tea 2030 Roadmap’ strategy group, spearheaded by Ceylon Tea Traders Association, is currently having on the social and economic sustainability of the tea industry.”
The conference will build on the ‘Mother and Child Friendly Seal for Responsible Business’ launched by The Centre on 15th June 2022 earlier this year. The Seal Initiative supports business entities in undertaking a capacity self-assessment to: 1) better understand where they are currently at in terms of addressing potential risks to children in their own business operations, as well as that of their supply chain; 2) make meaningful investments that will strengthen and address prioritised areas; 3) collaborate with other stakeholders such as development agencies, civil society organisations, and government institutions to promote and protect women and children’s rights; and 4) demonstrate the Sri Lankan tea industry’s progress in its transformation as a family-friendly tea supply chain.
Dr. Roshan Rajadurai, Planters Association of Ceylon’s Media Spokesperson and Managing Director of Hayleys Plantations pointed out, “Women have been integral to the development of Sri Lanka’s tea industry for generations. In the context of the present economic crisis, it is vital that all stakeholders band together to protect these most vulnerable communities.”
Julian Chellappah, National Director of Save the Children’s Country Office in Sri Lanka, stated that Save the Children has, for over eight years, worked to improve the lives of children living in tea estates by strengthening community-based child protection mechanisms and empowering children to advocate for their rights. To continue this work in a sustainable manner, Save the Children facilitated the establishment of the Center for Child Rights and Business in Sri Lanka in 2022. He added, “We partnered with The Centre for Child Rights and Business in Sri Lanka with an aim to create the ‘Mother and Child Friendly Seal for Responsible Business’ to differentiate Sri Lankan tea in the marketplace. “We are very proud of the way this work is being carried forward by The Center, and we will continue to work with them as one of our strategic partners.”
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