- “Mother and Child-Friendly Seal for Responsible Business”, a first in Sri Lanka, debuts through the Center for Child Rights and Business in partnership with Save the Children and key stakeholders, Planters Association of Ceylon, Plantation Human Development Trust and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs
In another major step towards safeguarding the well-being of women and children in Sri Lanka’s real estate communities, the Center for Children’s Rights and Business (the Centre) in partnership with Save the Children and key stakeholders, the Ceylon Planters Association, Plantation Human Development Trust and the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs announced the launch of the island’s first “Mother and Child Friendly Seal for Responsible Business” .
Against the backdrop of an impending economic crisis that threatens to erode Sri Lanka’s quality of life, key socio-economic and health indicators, the Mother and Child-Friendly Seal for Responsible Business initiative is designed to guide businesses on a path that integrates the well-being of women and children into their business.
“This initiative is a new concept that will improve the overall welfare of women and children in the plantation sector of Sri Lanka. The most valuable resource a plantation company has is its human capital. We believe in ensuring the well-being of women and children living within the plantation community, as they are key to influencing the sustainable development of the industry,” said Bhathiya Bulumulla, President of the Ceylon Planters Association (PA) and Director/CEO of Elpitiya Plantations PLC.
Business entities that sign up for the Seal initiative will initially make a commitment and develop an action plan to strengthen initiatives for women and children in the communities they are connected to. Based on the child-focused impact assessments carried out on the initiatives, they will be awarded the Mother and Child Friendly Seal for Responsible Business.
The initiative also aims to encourage companies in the tea supply chain – from brands, exporters, brokers to plantation companies and estates – to make sustainable and meaningful investments in the well-being of women and children.
“For generations, women have been an integral part of the development of the plantation industry in Sri Lanka. However, especially in the context of an impending economic crisis, it is vital that all stakeholders come together to protect our most vulnerable communities. By strengthening standards through the implementation of initiatives such as the Mother & Child-Friendly Seal for Responsible Business, we are better able to protect the livelihoods and quality of life of all those connected to the plantation industry. Going forward, we will also engage with all industry stakeholders to further extend these standards to the rest of the industry, to maximize the social utility of these programs,” said Roshan Rajadurai, gatekeeper. -spokesperson for PA Media and Managing Director of Hayleys Plantations. Explain.
Notably, the Mother and Child-Friendly Seal for Responsible Business initiative builds on Save the Children’s previous work in Sri Lanka through its Mother and Child Friendly Tea Plantations program, which has been developed over time in the Seal initiative.
“For more than eight years, we have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children living on tea estates. Investing $1.5 million, our programs have focused on introducing a child protection policy in tea plantation enterprises, strengthening community child protection mechanisms and empowerment of children for their child rights. This initiative paved the way for building strong alliances with the Planters Association, the Plantation Human Development Trust and tea growers, exporters and brands to create sustainable standards for tea plantations that are suitable for mothers and children.
“We have also partnered with the Center for Child Rights and Business in Sri Lanka to create a Seal process (the Seal Initiative), used to differentiate Sri Lankan tea in the market. Additionally, this initiative will create a governing body that will monitor commitments, results and deliver the seal. We are very proud of the way this work is being carried out by the Centre, and we will continue to work with them,” said Save the Children Country Director Julian Chellappah.
In 2019, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the main plantation companies, Save the Children and the Government of Sri Lanka, a first for Sri Lanka at the time. The Ministry of Women and Children has collaborated closely in this initiative, as a key member of the advisory committee which provides strategic guidance.
“The Ministry of Women and Child Development is responsible for empowering, securing and promoting the rights of women and children. The Mother and Child Friendly Seal for Responsible Business is an important initiative that will support the ministry’s goals immensely. We hope that this initiative will contribute significantly to the development of sustainable standards for the well-being of the community of the domain,” said the additional secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, Nilmini Herath.
The Seal Initiative differs from other certification systems because it identifies entry points along the supply chain. It rewards companies that demonstrate their commitments to improving the well-being of children and mothers, beyond compliance targets. Companies are not punished for violations such as child labor; Instead, the Center will help these companies build their capacity to understand and meaningfully manage the risks women and children face in their business practices. In addition, mechanisms to address key concerns will be put in place to ameliorate child protection issues as they arise.
“This Seal Initiative will not just be another logo out there; rather, it is a call to action for tea growers and buyers. We will relentlessly support and push all participating companies to achieve impacts that truly benefit the thousands of Sri Lankan tea workers, their children and their communities,” said Ines Kaempfer, CEO of the Center for Human Rights. child and business.
Although the Seal Initiative is currently working within the tea industry, in the coming months other leading industries are invited to contact the Center for further information on the mother-and-child-friendly seal for responsible business to help turn even more Sri Lankan businesses into businesses. that integrate the well-being of mothers and their children into their supply chain operations.