From left: English Tea Shop Director/CEO Suranga Herath, Horana Plantations PLC Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Johann Rodrigo, Bogawantalawa Plantations PLC Executive Director Lalith Munasinghe, The Centre for Child Rights and Business CEO Ines Kaempfer, Planters’ Association of Ceylon Chairman and Elpitiya Plantations PLC Director/Chief Executive Officer Bhathiya Bulumulla, Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC Director/Chief Executive Officer Senaka Alawattegama and Kelani Valley Plantations PLAC Director Rubber Marketing and Administration Ranil Fernando
The Centre for Child Rights and Business (The Centre) in partnership with Save the Children, and key stakeholders, the Planters Association of Ceylon, Plantation Human Development Trust, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs launched Sri Lanka’s first “Mother and Child-Friendly Seal for Responsible Business” (Seal initiative) on June 15, 2022.
Seven business entities involved in Sri Lanka’s tea industry signed a pledge to take part in the initiative during the event, marking the beginning of their journey to develop and implement action plans to continuously support and improve the wellbeing of families and children in the tea sector. Three further business entities have also expressed interest in joining and will be announced in due course.
The seven business entities that have confirmed their commitment to the initiative are: Bogawantalawa Tea Estates, Elpitiya Plantations PLC, English Tea Shop, Eswaran Brothers, Horana Plantations PLC, Kelani Valley Plantations PLC and Talawakelle Tea Estates.
Upon signing the pledge, the next step for the above business entities will be to carry out child-centric capacity self-assessments to understand the situation of women and children and the areas that need improvement. These will be reviewed by The Centre who will give feedback and advice on which areas to strengthen and how to proceed with the action plan.
During the event, The Centre’s CEO Ines Kaempfer reiterated the fact that this initiative will not simply be a checklist-style scheme that holds members to a fixed set of standards. Rather, the heart of this initiative is transparently reporting on issues related to women and children that require strengthening and demonstrating continuous efforts to address those gaps.
“It is not a standard that we are assessing; it is a commitment. We did not want it to be just another tick the box, where we would need to come in to monitor and evaluate,” said Ms. Kaempfer.
As such, each member’s action plan will be unique to their own situation. As was acknowledged by the various speakers from the tea industry, government, The Centre and Save the Children, no tea business entity is expected to be perfect; the road to achieving a world-recognised mother and child-friendly tea sector is still long but this initiative puts tea entities firmly on a path to making tangible, long-term improvements that will directly benefit families and children in tea communities. As the Seal Initiative evolves and grows over time, it is envisioned to scale the model to other industries in Sri Lanka in the not-so-distant future.
Please visit www.srilanka-motherandchildseal.org for further information.
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