The Gender & Waste Project
A collaborative project involving waste pickers in Latin America has shed light on the multiple levels of discrimination that women waste pickers face and their needs.
WIEGO Waste Picking Sector Specialist Sonia Dias has been facilitating work in Brazil on gender and waste pickers. The Gender & Waste project—a partnership between WIEGO, the Women’s Research Center (NEPEM) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the NGO Insea, the national waste picker movement MNCR, and the regional waste picker movement RedLacre—is addressing gender inequality in waste picking activities, extending to the inequality women waste pickers face at home, at work, and as leaders within their representative organizations.
The Gender & Waste Project, based on a research-action pilot project in Minas Gerais, Brazil, was initiated to bring gender consciousness to the forefront of the discussion among waste pickers. It sought to provide women waste pickers with a clearer understanding of the practical tools they need to challenge the deeply-entrenched gender hierarchies present in their homes, at work and in the movement.
As a result of the project, women waste pickers have started to mobilize more collectively and demand that gender be a key issue on the agenda of the national movement. The project also created stronger ties between the academy, through the Women’s Studies Research Center (NEPEM – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), and the waste pickers’ movements.
- Read an article on the project pilot and its outcomes: Waste & Gender: Rethinking Relations for Empowerment.
- Watch "Portraits of Sanitation," a video that examines the development of the Waste and Gender project and how it is improving the lives of women waste pickers.
- See this PowerPoint presentation to learn why and how the project was undertaken and what findings emerged.
- Additional presentations about the project (in Portuguese): History and Conception of Workshops, Gender and Empowerment, Methodology and Description of Activities, Lessons Learned, Popular Toolkit, Academic/Practitioner's Toolkit
- Read about and view slideshow on the Gender and Waste event that took place April 2015 (in Spanish).
Two products were developed from the lessons learned and will serve as useful tools for further phases of the project:
WIEGO’s Waste Picking Sector Specialist Sonia Dias has contributed to various policy platforms such as the UN Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA) which preceded the 2013 General Assembly of Partners. The presentation on informal workers intended to feed in the discussions of their Job Creation and Local Productivity working group.
In addition, Sonia has contributed to shaping debates in the solid waste field, for example by reviewing and contributing to various policy papers, such as UNEP´s Global Waste Management Outlook - GWMO and UNDP’s book Powerful Synergies – Gender Equality, Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability. Read “Wastepickers: A Gendered Perspective”.