At the invitation of Institute of Chartered Waste Managers (ICWM), the ISWA National Member for India, together with the Norwegian based GRID-Arendal, ISWA’s Women of Waste Task Force organized a panel discussion and workshop on “𝗪𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗪𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲: 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗹 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘄𝘁𝗵” during the 𝟮𝟳𝘁𝗵 Pradanya IIHMR “𝗚𝗹𝗼𝗯𝗮𝗹 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗹𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝗖𝗶𝗿𝗰𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿 𝗘𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗼𝗺𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆 (𝗖𝗢𝗥𝗘 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯)” on the 14th March 2023 at 𝗜𝗜𝗛𝗠𝗥 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘆, in the “Pink City” of Jaipur India.
Most of the waste is collected by the informal sector in India – and women make a up a large percentage of that workforce, often facing harsh conditions. But change is coming. The concept of a just transition from informal to a more organized system of solid waste management is gaining traction within circular economy debates and replacing the earlier ideas that missed the social and labour dimensions. In a just transition, women’s livelihoods as well as their skills, knowledge and contribution are not lost to the sector but rather are strengthened and valued in the fight against plastic pollution.
With moderation by Georgina Nitzsche, WOW! Coordinator, panel speakers presented their inspiring regional and national projects and models working both directly with women and with a gender sensitive approach. For example, Beate Kværnes Langset counsellor Royal Norwegian Embassy New Delhi, gave insights to their work collecting and collating available data on women working in the informal sector, and Nancy A. Strand from Avfall Norge highlighted the step-wise program from the grassroots CLOCC project in Indonesia which is funded by Noraid and ISWA is also part of.
Bharati Chaturvedi Director and Founder of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group shared the sobering results of her new study, Santulan, focussed on women and plastics, examining the potential for a gendered circular economy – as well as her uplifting work improving the lives and families of 17,000 female waste workers. These examples show the tough challenges but also the potential when women are supported in a just transition – it can be done.
The panel discussion was followed by a roundtable workshop on the Just Transition of the Informal Recycling Sector with the aim of generating practical activities and models for India, particularly for women. This interactive session was led by WOW! TF Lead Maria Tsakona senior solid waste and marine litter expert from GRID-Arendal using themes and inputs from their recently published policy paper: A Seat at the Table – The Role of the Informal Recycling Sector in Plastic Pollution Reduction, and Recommended Policy Changes It was a great brainstorming session and the workshop proceedings will be available shortly.