BY IRENE MOYO
SEVERAL women in Bulawayo have taken to waste picking business to eke a living, with human rights organisations also coming in to protect them from exploitation and abuse.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Matabeleland Institute of Human Rights (MIHR) are pushing for the rights of the waste pickers following reports of abuse targeted at females in the sector.
On Thursday, ZLHR and MIHR conducted a workshop for women waste pickers in Pumula suburb to empower them with knowledge on their rights and skills in waste management.
MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said women in waste collection business were prone to different kinds of abuse.
“We have heard of cases where women are being abused by ordinary citizens and the city council, who decide to take away the waste they have collected from the dumping sites and from the general public spaces,”he said.
“As an organisation, we are here to protect their rights and to help women in any human rights-related issues.”
Maphosa said the MIHR advocates for a waste picking enterprise that is gender responsive, human rights-based and safe for women and girls.
ZLHR representative Sipho Fanuel Moyo said waste pickers should enjoy their rights to a safe environment.
“Some women do not have identity documents and birth certificates which is a challenge that can negatively affect their businesses,” he
Meanwhile, women in the sector launched a representative organisation, Bulawayo Women Waste Café, to advocate for a safe working environment.
According to the Environmental Management Authority, only 10% of waste produced in the country was destined for the landfill, the remaining 90% being either reusable, recyclable or biodegradable.