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CRACKING FEMALE EMPOWERMENT IN THE HAZELNUT HARVEST

Atike Kapan has worked the last 3 summers on the hazelnut farms of Turkey’s Black Sea region.

Like thousands of other female seasonal migrant workers, who typically make up just over half of the migrant workforce during the harvest season, she received no occupational training before being thrust into working arduous 11 hours days, on precarious terrain, and without adequate compensation.

But today, Atike Kapan is an “Agricultural Ambassador”. In the winter of 2017, she was invited by an Olam social worker to attend a one-day training session in her home city, on workers’ rights, gender equality and financial literacy. Equipped with this training, she is now helping to build the confidence, status and incomes of her fellow female workers and their families.

“The most important thing we learned that workers' rights exist. We learned how to defend our rights and how to collaborate as workers.”

She is one of 16 women who have been trained under the Women Ambassadors of Agriculture programme, implemented by Olam, with the support of the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (KEDV). These women in turn, have reached a further 649 women over the last two years, in the harvest worker community in their role as ‘Ambassadors’, sharing their learnings on financial literacy, labour rights and good social practices.

The ‘Training of Trainers’ formula has proved an effective way of empowering women; enabling them to improve working conditions for themselves, as well as increasing the reach of the programme. Assessment results by the Fair Labour Association show that women workers’ financial literacy, awareness of labour rights and gender issues has improved under the programme. 96 women have received benefits from government social services including the Employment Agency, Social Assistance and Solidarity Association, compared with 0 woman before the programme started. But as always, the number of beneficiaries needs to increase. 

In the next terms, our objective is the empowerment of all women in our supply chain through increasing their knowledge on workers’ rights, gender equality, prevention of child labour, safe and decent work.  We will keep mentoring the women after the initial training with meetings and house visits. We support them when they need with trainings and material supply. And we would like to reach approximately 5000 women with this project.