What you need to know:
- 300,000 mothers employed in low income cadres of the private sector will benefit from free access to reproductive health services, screening of cancers and empowerment to make solid decisions in the face of GBV.
- Programme is being coordinated by the UNF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK’s Department for International Development and Merck for Mothers.
- Del Monte, this week, became the latest to append its signature in the partnership where it committed to foot bills for women in its payroll and in neighbouring communities.
At least 300,000 mothers employed in low income cadres of the private sector will, by 2024, benefit from free access to reproductive health services, screening of cancers and empowerment to make solid decisions in the face of gender-based abuses.
The programme is being coordinated by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK’s Department for International Development and Merck for Mothers.
The initiative seeks to collaborate with companies with large global supply chains employing millions of women to improve their health and well-being.
Thika-based American food processor Del Monte, this week, became the latest to append its signature in the partnership where it committed to foot bills for women in its payroll and in neighbouring communities.
10, 000 women
Present at the event were Del Monte Managing Director Stergios Gkaliamoutsas, Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga and the Murang’a County Director of Health Dr Winnie Kanyi.
“We target 10, 000 women that include our employees and the community by providing them with health services and information on reproductive health, cancer, contraceptives, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and menstrual health by 2024. We also commit to offer health services and training to prevent gender-based violence.” Mr Gkaliamoutsas said.
Founded in 1998 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner, the UNF works with philanthropic, corporate, government and individual partners to empower societies on forward moving packages that seek to improve quality of lives.
In September last year, UNF together with the UN Global Compact and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) released a comprehensive guideline for private sector companies to take action on women’s health and empowerment in their global supply chain workforces, hence the Kenya based companies taking cue.
The guidelines positioned women’s health as central to empowerment, economic development, and decent work.
“For the nearly 200 million women working in global supply chains to thrive and advance in the workplace, they need access to essential health care services from quality reproductive care to cancer screening, to protection from gender-based violence,” their joint statement then read.
The commitments announced were a precursor of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, dubbed by the UN as “the world’s largest global gathering on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women”.
Dr Kanyi said her office will offer logistical advice in the programme and called on other companies to come on board for the sake of “the vulnerable women.”
“This whole package seeks to widen the net for corporate action on workplace women’s health and empowerment to provide concrete actions for companies to embed women’s health and empowerment in their policies, systems, and operations,” she said.
Ms Wakiaga appreciated the fact that local companies are embracing the initiative “especially those that largely employ female workforces.”
In Kenya, companies targeted in the drive are those that deal in garment manufacturing, coffee, tea, coffee and flower farms as well the hospitality industry where it is estimated women comprise 50 to 80 per cent of the workforce.
She noted that the programme is all about the private sector moving beyond employment to embracing real and systematic change for female workers by getting proactive in their reproductive and wellness needs.
“A healthier workforce reduces absenteeism and turnover while increasing productivity, helping companies reap the benefits of financial returns and social impact,” Ms Wakiaga said.
So far, Unilever, Twinings, Nordstrom, Lindex, Shahi, MAS Holdings, Hela Clothing, Inditex, Share Hope, and Ethical Apparel are active in Kenya, offering health and empowerment information or services on contraception, maternal and menstrual health, reproductive cancer screening, skill building and anti-harassment programs.