WASTE has worked together with ACEPESA, an NGO in Costa Rica, to realize the Gender Mainstreaming Guide for the Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling.
Environmental and economic benefits of waste picking
Waste pickers can be seen at work around the world. In developing countries about 1% of the urban population – at least 15 million people – by salvaging recyclables from waste and trying to earn an income with this work. They work on the streets and in open dumps, where daily contact with all kinds of waste – including hazardous and medical waste – poses risks to their health.
The work of these recyclers provides important environmental and economic benefits that contribute to waste reduction and the reuse of recyclable materials by industry. Thus the activity undertaken by these informal waste pickers provides a valuable service being especially relevant in urban areas that generate large quantities of waste.
Cycle of poverty
Nevertheless, despite their importance, the work of the waste pickers is neither socially nor economically recognized. Even though informal recyclers are responsible, in some cases, for the supply of 90% of the materials that are recycled by industry, these people only capture a small fraction of the gains that the intermediaries or the recycling companies make. This means that they remain in the same vicious circle of poverty. In addition, within the informal sector there is also a notable inequality in the income generated through this employment caused by differences in access and in the relations of power between men and women.
A change is needed to valorise the work of thousands of waste pickers and it is agreed that this effort should include a gender focus that fosters the empowerment of women recyclers to access the recycling market and participate in decision-making.
We have been asked, together with ACEPESA (an NGO from Costa Rica), to develop and write the Gender Mainstreaming Guide for the Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling (IADB, AVINA, Coca cola and MIF).
What we did?
Developing the Gender Mainstreaming Guide for the Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling, consisted of the following activities:
1. Developing a database of secondary information (studies, manuals, project documents)
2. Developing a literature study
3. Undertaking workshops with four focal groups in selected countries reflecting different maturity levels in organization in informal recycling
4. Developing an Operating Guide for gender mainstreaming in the entire project cycle of the Initiative
5. Presenting and validating the Operating guide through a Key Stakeholders Workshop
The Guide can be downloaded here