MIHR moves to empower female waste pickers

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has embarked on an initiative to empower Bulawayo women involved in the waste picking industry with human rights information and enterprise development skills. 

MIHR launched the project termed Bulawayo Women’s Waste Cafe, Friday, in the presence of various stakeholders including the city council, Ministry of Women Affairs, Independent Commissions, Environmental Management Agency among other civic society organisations. 

MIHR coordinator, Khumbulani Maphosa, explained that the project targets female waste pickers at the Richmond landfill and will run from November 1 2021 to October 30, 2022.

He said the initiative will empower about 150 women and girls and will in turn benefit about 1 100 inhabitants inclusive of men, youths and children. 

“The project aims to empower female waste pickers with human rights information and skills to document and claim their rights. We aim to empower them with economic literacy and enterprise development skills as well as link them with the local authority and government so that they can grow their waste picking industry,” said Maphosa. 

Maphosa said they will engage the local authority and the government to ensure that there are effective policies and legislation to enable the waste pickers to do their work. 

“Legislation and policies have to be clear on waste picking. We will work with the city council and the government to ensure that all policies and legislation to do with waste picking are amended and address the lived realities of waste pickers. Most of our legislation is archaic so these are issues that we must ensure get addressed,” he said. 

Sikholiwe Ncube, a participant at the meeting noted that there is a need to incorporate young men as well into the initiative in order to avoid issues of violence that may be brought about by issues of inequality. 

“We are very grateful for this upcoming project. We know that it will protect and empower waste pickers at the Ngozi Mine. However, we hope that the boy child does not get left behind,” she said.

“We already have male waste pickers, they are still young and are growing. We do not want a situation that will perpetuate violence as males and females fight over operating areas.” 

Ward 7 Councillor Shadreck Sibanda said the initiative is a welcome one and once operational it would help rid the city of the numerous illegal dumpsites. 

“We hope that the entire city will benefit from this initiative. Once women get educated on how to make money out of waste picking it would be a big win for the city seeing that there are numerous illegal dumpsites that have sprouted over the years,” said Cllr Sibanda.

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