It doesn’t matter where in the world you are: It’s impossible to create a better future if everyone doesn’t get a fair shake or the opportunity to advance themselves. Breaking down barriers and putting in place programs and systems that not only allow for that advancement, but also encourage it, are essential if progress is part of the plan.
Historically though, women often don’t have access to these opportunities.
For example, in the Uttar Pradesh region of India, the world’s largest supplier of mint, women in mint-farming communities face significant challenges because of educational disparities and gender inequality.
To help make the changes today we want to see for these women — and their communities — tomorrow, we’ve teamed up with international nonprofit Tanager. Since 2017, we have helped to create 319 self-help groups as part of our holistic Shubh Mint program, with a total membership of 3,200 women.
The self-help groups offer a variety of trainings, including financial management, savings and credit linkages, livelihoods initiatives that supply supplementary income, information about rights and entitlements, and an opportunity to connect with other women to encourage and support each other in their communities.
"After joining [the group] the biggest change that I noticed was [that] earlier, there were no savings at home. Ever since I joined, I am able to save 80 rupees a month, so it’s all adding up."
— Susheela, farmer’s wife
As Meenal Bahirwani, our India Sustainable Sourcing Manager for Mars Wrigley, says, “At Mars we believe that we cannot grow and prosper unless the planet, communities and people we rely on are also healthy and thriving.” This is exactly why we’re investing in the women in mint farming communities, to empower them (and their communities) to thrive.
In the marketplace, we are piloting microdistributor and microretailer training programs as a way of empowering women entrepreneurs in emerging markets across Africa and Asia. We’ve also signed on The Unstereotype Alliance, co-convened by U.N. Women and Unilever. This Alliance is tackling unhelpful and harmful gender stereotypes in advertising.
In our supply chains, we recognize the connections between poverty, human rights and women’s empowerment. So we’re prioritizing action and collaboration in our cocoa, rice and mint supply chains where we have the greatest potential to drive impact. But that’s just the start. We’ll use what we learn in these supply chains to make progress in others.