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A Gender Perspective on Recycling Waste picker in Puna, India – driver for the SWaCH Cooperative. Sonia Dias WIEGO/ Visiting Professor UFMG Solidarity.

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Presentation on theme: "A Gender Perspective on Recycling Waste picker in Puna, India – driver for the SWaCH Cooperative. Sonia Dias WIEGO/ Visiting Professor UFMG Solidarity."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Gender Perspective on Recycling Waste picker in Puna, India – driver for the SWaCH Cooperative. Sonia Dias WIEGO/ Visiting Professor UFMG Solidarity Centre - Gender Conference

2 Waste Pickers – Vital actors  Millions of people worldwide – a large number of them women – make a living collecting, sorting, recycling, and selling valuable materials that someone else has thrown away.  Vital actors in the informal economy, they provide widespread benefits. In many countries, waste pickers supply the only form of solid waste collection.  A significant number of waste pickers are women, and some are children. In some cities in India, for example, about 80 per cent of the waste pickers are women; in Brazil, a small-scale study found that 56 per cent of waste picker organizations’ members are women.

3 Despite the growing strength of women in the waste picking profession, a gendered approach is important...  Women might not be allowed access to recyclables with the highest value.  Women may not occupy positions of authority within their communities, or may not be respected fully when holding those positions.  Asymmetrical power relations at the household level affect women’s abilities to take part in public committees or to exercise leadership within their representative organizations due to barriers that prevent women from involvement in the public realm.  Women are responsible for raising children and maintaining the household, limiting their time and energy for taking up leadership opportunities.  When waste picking activity is formalized, women often do not enjoy the same opportunities as men for fair earnings.

4 Formalization & Gender -Women Waste Pickers and Labor Statistics in Brazil - Facts Waste Pickers according to PNAD 2006:  Number of waste pickers: 229,568;  67% are men and 33% are women;  25% are between the ages of and 7% are older than 65;  Only 14% of the men and 6% of the women are enrolled in schools; with regular employment Waste pickers with regular employment (RAIS)  There are 11,781 waste pickers in regular employment;  95% are in regular employment for an undetermined time;  80% are men and 20% women;  98 % of those who receive between 3 and 4 minimum wages are men and only 2% are women;  80% of waste pickers in regular employment have an average schooling beyond the 4th grade and more than 60% have an average schooling until the 8th grade or more.  Source: Crivellari, Dias et al (2008)

5 Waste and gender an invisible issue…  Despite the growing number of studies that focus on solid waste, there are very few that seek to understand the gender dynamics and sexual division of labor involved in waste picking activities.  Leadership empowerment of women - still largely ignored at the national movements of waste pickers: “we are very active at our coops but when it comes to power positions at the national movement we face constraints”. Gender & Waste Research Action Project was born  BUT… In Nicaragua 2012 the LA network of waste pickers raised the issue and a pilot Gender & Waste Research Action Project was born. Women waste leaders from Latin America

6 Changing Mindsets in Nicaragua  Gender committee formed at the 2012 LA conference of RedLacre - empowerment of women does not mean the exclusion of men. It means to contribute to the emancipation of all people -- men and women.  It was with this idea in mind that the Red Lacre, the National Movement of Waste Pickers in Brazil (MNCR), WIEGO began discussing in 2012 the importance of opening up a dialogue about gender in the context of waste picking, or informal recycling. Nicaragua 2012

7 A participatory process from the outset  Taking advantage of an existing relationship with the Center for Study and Research on Women (NEPEM) of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), members of the previously mentioned groups decided to start a pilot project in Minas Gerais that would explore themes for a future program about gender for Brazil and Latin America.  The development of the gender project in 2012 was participatory. Over the course of that year, several meetings were held with women waste pickers from various cooperatives throughout the state of Minas Gerais.  Participants decided that exploratory workshops throughout the state should be held. In 2013, as a result of this participatory process, the gender project was born as a partnership between MNCR, ANCAT, WIEGO, NEPEM, and the NGO INSEA.

8 Made with Office Timeline 2010www.officetimeline.com ' 11 feb 2011 mayaugnov feb 2012 mayaug ' 12 Feedback session at L&C Festival Informal talks at the national women´s meeting in Curitiba Half day workshop with women at Insea with women from Redesol & Cataunidos Informal talks with women from Redesol & Cataunidos Nicaragua meeting First talks with women Various meetings with women leaders" - June 2012 till Aug 2012 Participatory project drafting - June –Sept 2012 Literature review: June-August 12 Various meetings with women leaders" - June 2012 till Aug 2012 Participatory project drafting - June –Sept 2012 Literature review: June-August 12 Gender Waste Project Timeline

9 Project goals 1.To provide women with the tools to work towards equality in the workplace and their personal lives in order to strengthen their capacities and voices; 2.To increase women’s leadership roles in waste picker representative organizations; and 3.To contribute to the economic empowerment of women waste pickers.

10 Methodology & Team - Participatory Research Action : knowledge production via direct envolvement; Participation from the outset: from project drafting to implementation and evaluation; platform for participation/engagement: follow up commitees; Knowledge production not as an end in itself but with the view to contribute to social changes; respect for the pedagogical time of communities – ongoing process – it takes time; involved communities/groups: from “objects” to “subjects” – producers and owners of knowledge. participatory tools: -Team: Executive team: Waste picker representative from Redlacre/MNCR + Wiego waste specialist + Nepem´s staff (Prof.Marlise Matos and Prof. Ana Ogando) and 4 trainee students + rep from NGO Insea. Consultative committee: 3 waste pickers´ rep from the MNCR and the director of the NGO Insea + 1 external reviewer.

11 Project Phases Phase 1- Learning & Participatory drafting + literature review Phase 2 – Regional Workshops with women pickers in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Phase 3 – Specific toolkits for mainstreaming gender: at the national movements of Redlacre and at the academia (teaching) Phase 4 – Process evaluation with the MNCR and Redlacre.

12 Phase 1 – Participatory Drafting Snapshots

13 Participatory Drafting Workshop

14 Phase 2 – Exploratory Regional Workshops: Workshop 1 – Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte 13 May, 2013

15 Session one: Women autonomy is.... “Women need to be united if they want to fulfill their potential” (Maria Aparecida)

16 ... Autonomy: at home, sexuality, at the workplace, at the national movement

17 Session: Gender Roles...

18 Working towards a gender workplan at the movement... The women discussed at the closing session: difficulties/obstacles faced; habilities/knowledge required to fight these obstacles; changes within society as a whole and the movement in particular. The ensuing phases of this exploratory project were presented and the role of these women in bringing about changes towards gender equity.

19 Women´s Voices... “ When are we going to have more workshops like this?” “We need all our comrades to come...” “Enlightening, it opened my mind” “We felt welcomed by the team...” “We are connected to each other ”...”

20 An ongoing process...but some findings from the workshops... Reports of discrimination and violence suffered by women …but yet women are no longer victims (or poor little creatures) like in the past…women’s voices today are stronger…Good stories of women struggles were shared. The desire for knowledge and to learn more. Skills required: how to read and write; Computing skills; Speech skills; Political formation… The recognition of the cooperative as a space of refuge that helps women waste pickers confront domestic violence. Yet, women need to make their way upward in the power hierarchy of their national movement.

21 “Frequently women have been the initiators of revolutions. We know that in 1693 many women went to the market in Northampton, with “knives” hidden in their girdles to force the sale of corn at their own rates” (Thompson, 1979) Women as a Historical Agent in the Struggle for Emancipation …hardly A new phenomenon.. Working to empower women does not imply in excluding men, it means contributing to the emancipation of all, both Men and Women – this is what the women waste pickers hope to contribute to

22  e


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