WSAF women's leadership training, India. Image: ETP
WSAF Rally, India. Image: ETP

Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund

A programme dedicated to social, economic and political empowerment for women and girls in rural spaces.

Developing safe and empowering workplaces for women workers

Around 700,000 women work in the tea estates of Assam and West Bengal, India. But many often experience domestic violence and harassment in the workplace, home, and community spaces.

The Women’s Safety Accelerator Fund was initiated by Unilever and IDH to advance the ‘Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces’ by UN Women.

This aims to ensure that all women and girls are socially, economically, and politically empowered in rural spaces free from sexual harassment and other forms of violence.

  • 2020–2023
  • Status: On-track

Project overview

Focusing on creating workplaces, homes and communities free from sexual harassment and violence towards women and girls in rural tea estates.

Project partners

IDH, ETP core funding, Unilever, Tesco, Twinings and Co. Ltd., Taylors of Harrogate, and Tazo

Girls involved in WSAF as change leaders play football, India. Image: ETP

The Fund started implementation in the tea sector in Assam and West Bengal, India.

Its focus has been on promoting tangible and continuous improvements for women workers in the tea industry through:

  • Positive impact on health and well-being, with less absenteeism.
  • Enhanced workforce performance and productivity.
  • Strengthened implementation of worker-related principles in certifications.
  • Strengthened compliance with policies and legislation.

Retaining and attracting women workers.

WSAF training, India. Image: ETP

Women are an integral part of India’s tea workforce, and their safety is the Fund’s primary concern.

The Fund is providing resources, tools, technical assistance, and specialised services for tea producers to strengthen prevention and responses to gender based violence, and create safe and empowering workplaces for women.

The Fund is also working to collaborate with a wide range of industry stakeholders, emphasising that when businesses demonstrate a firm commitment to ending gender based violence, the tea sector will thrive as a result.

WSAF Rally at Goat Gaon Community, Chamong Tea Estate, Darjeeling, India. Image: ETP

The initiative made significant progress in 2023:

  • Expanded into 148 new tea estates across Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Indirectly reached 86,860 women, men and adolescents participants in awareness raising sessions across all the new estates.
  • Trained 983 women, men and adolescents to become change agents and allies in their communities.

Engaged more than 100 government officials and service providers to address GBV in tea estates.