The issues and challenges both in the tea gardens and by the STGs themselves, made the Alliance realize that in order to address this complex problematic, engagement in multiple layers of advocacy and lobby towards various stakeholders was necessary. This is reflected in the Theory of Change which depicts the importance of supporting and engaging both with STGs and community groups to stand up and improve their living and working conditions.
The planned interventions range from capacity strengthening for lobby and advocacy to involvement in dialogues at higher administrative levels with various stakeholders, government and the private sector. Promoting gender equality is at the heart of the intervention strategies, since women and adolescent girls constitute the majority of the labor force in the tea sector.
Most of our grassroot level work in the communities, including awareness raising, is led by women, youth and children. The Alliance, who provided well-received lobby and advocacy training, helps them to raise their demands vis-à-vis decision-making authorities both at government and corporate level. The communities formed specific ‘women working groups’. They have been trained on various aspects such as legal rights, advocacy and lobby on issues such as fair wages, human rights and responsible business and life skills. Similarly, children’s groups are being strengthened to ensure participation, peer pressure and create voice of children at various lobby forums. One of our key strategies is grooming ‘Child Champions’ (including young girls) who represent the voice of their peers at all platforms at various levels.
With the STGs themselves the strategy is to create a win-win situation so that they agree to work both on social as well as economical issues, giving them the ability to grow, solve their problems and also undertake steps in making their business sustainable and responsible.
And finally we have a disability inclusion approach. Persons living with disabilities (PLWD) belong to the most marginalized sections of the tea communities. Specific lobby and advocacy activities intend to get them linked to relevant referral services.In the Dribrugarh project area 19 people with different disabilities have been identified. Next step is to lobby for linking them to available government schemes.