A woman picking tea
© UNICEF/UNI87779/Ferguson
Women play an important role in the global tea supply chain. Frequently, they work as tea leaf pickers or pesticide sprayers. In addition to low wages, adverse health impacts, poor maternity protections and inadequate living conditions can be significant concerns in the industry.

Working mothers face particular challenges in the tea supply chain. While labour laws in some countries provide protection for pregnant and nursing workers, women can be at risk of working until delivery due to the fear of losing employment or reduced salaries. Moreover, breastfeeding women may be tasked with the same workload and face the same conditions as other workers (e.g. involvement in pesticide spraying).

Combined with poor living conditions, inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and practices and lack of access to basic services (e.g. health and nutrition), the consequences for children can be severe.

In Assam, India, UNICEF has been working with the tea industry and key industry stakeholders to improve the lives of children and adolescents affected by the tea sector.