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Case Studies

Working Towards Gender Equality

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EASTERN PRODUCE MALAWI

SOCIAL INITIATIVE

In March 2017 Eastern Produce Malawi (EPM) has embraced and implemented a Diversity, Inclusion and Women’s Welfare policy to further demonstrate their commitment to providing equal opportunities to all their employees, irrespective of gender. By encouraging more senior and technical positions to be available to women, this policy aims to align opportunities for women with those of men. The policy supports inclusion and diversification and is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5, ‘To achieve gender equality and empowerment of women and girls’.

 

OBJECTIVES

The initiative is managed by women and has strong support from the Directors and Management of EPM. The main objective is to fully integrate women into every business tier of EPM. EPM puts a focus on including and taking care of the welfare of all female employees and believes that happiness, productivity and commitment go hand in hand with a safe and conducive work environment.

This initiative focuses on the welfare of women within the company and has a positive impact on the families and communities around EPM.

IMPACT

The initiative begun in March 2017. Over the past five months’ significant impacts have already been seen.

1. ESTABLISHMENT OF WOMEN'S WELFARE COMMITTEES

Each estate has formed a Diversity, Inclusion and Women’s Welfare Committee, WWC, a total of 21 Estate WWCs and the chairladies of each have also come together to form a Group WWC.  These groups promote personal dignity, self-esteem and equal opportunities, by addressing issues raised by women on the estates and through management communicating feedback on new initiatives.

2. POLICY IMPLEMENTATION

The continuous support and assistance of management to recognize and resolve women’s’ welfare issues have generated a feeling of safety and happiness amongst the female employees. EPM support women through employment and provision of financial support to their families, enabling them to look after and provide for their children.

EPM have always ensured that women are considered for any position, including appointment of women into several senior and middle management roles. To achieve gender equality a request was put forward by the Group WWC to the Directors in June this year to consider female employees for new job openings. EPM understands that this is the next step to creating a diverse and inclusive work culture, as well as improving productivity and commitment of employees.

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3. WOMEN'S WELFARE COMMITTEE MEETINGS 

The estate WWCs have held women-only field meetings to discuss and resolve several women’s welfare issues, such as:

  • Breast feeding shelters have been built where nursing mothers express milk or breastfeed their babies twice during working hours, over and above the normal breaks
  • Female tea pluckers are prioritized during the last weighing round of the day to ensure they can safely return home before dusk
  • Security has improved greatly to ensure that travelling home is safe for all
  • Crèches are being built at each estate to ensure that toddlers are provided a safe and conducive environment during working hours of mothers
  • Pregnant women are given lighter duties and are encouraged to go for antenatal check-ups at the district hospitals (by notifying the estate nurse/ clinic a day in advance)
  • Women have access to family planning and birthing advice from all EPM estate clinics
  • ‘Under 5 clinics’ take place at least once a month at all EPM estate clinics, these sessions offer vaccinations for both mothers and babies, HIV testing and counselling and health education are also available

EPM believes that as word of this initiative spreads throughout their communities, more women will be able to benefit from these initiatives - benefiting not only the families and communities through increased income but also EPM, by having a diverse workforce.

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INNOVATION

Success can be seen by:

  • Women who are already employed by EPM have been able to set up this initiative without any instruction or intervention from external influencers. This has united the female employees of EPM
  • Awareness of equality has been created at all levels at company level
  • Directors and management of EPM fully support the initiative by resolving women’s welfare issues as they arise
  • The initiative is gradual and uses minimal resources to improve the welfare of women. This approach has ensured that all employees are supportive of the initiative/

REPLICATION

EPM hope that other companies may also take up the initiative within the communities where they operate. Critical factors for replication are:

  • An existing female workforce, however small, reflects positively on working environments
  • This initiative supports team, family and community improvements as its key focus. Equally, provides knowledge of and good insight into the cultural obstacles faced locally
  • By supporting diversification and inclusion of female employees, Management is able to better understand and document the positive impacts of these factors to the company. 
2017 Interim Report