Alongside health impacts, the global COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the structural violence and inequalities that women and children already face. The cessation of movement has affected people’s jobs and livelihoods and as a consequence many countries are reporting a surge in cases of domestic and sexual violence, also known as gender-based violence (GBV), as well as violence against children. Kenya is following this trend: a third of crimes reported since COVID-19 was related to sexual violence. The cases in tea growing communities are suspected to be on a the rise this is supported by a recent gender assessment conducted by KTDA Foundation that highlighted the dominant gender and generational norms which normalize Gender Based Violence (GBV) within households in tea growing communities for example, norms that indicate women lack the skills to manage money and additionally, low income and weak financial management practices within the household intensity intra-household conflicts.
Physical and economic violence are the most common kinds of GBV and are most prevalent during high borrowing seasons. Fear of discrimination, normalized violence, stigma, shame, fear of reprisal and limited options of support are a number of the reasons why smallholder tea farmers facing GBV don’t seek support.
KTDA Foundation Interventions on GBV
KTDA has been working on issues related to gender and gender-based violence (GBV) in tea growing communities through the Gender Empowerment Platform in partnership with IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative and Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP).The program has seen KTDA managed factories set up gender committees : workers from across the factory are given a seat at the table with management. The committees give workers a voice and a vehicle to address gender issues at the factory and community level.
Together with ETP and IDH, KTDA Foundation has set up activities to respond to the increase in cases of GBV in Kenya. Radio campaigns on COVID-19 and GBV awareness have been developed and have been broadcasted through local/vernacular radio across all tea growing regions, so that all 600,000 smallholders that work with KTDA can be reached. In addition, awareness posters which include a toll-free phone number (0800720501) have been spread across all KTDA tea buying centres and KTDA Social media platforms intended to offer support.