Note on: Participatory Action Research focusing on Gender Awareness

The Gender & Waste Project was developed with the two-fold objective of identifying women waste pickers’ concerns regarding gender inequalities in the waste picking sector and fostering discussions on how such inequalities are present not only in these women’s work environments, but at home and in their national movements. The idea for the project emerged from discussions women waste picker leaders have had in Brazil and Latin America. As a result, WIEGO partnered with the National Movement of Waste Pickers in Brazil (MNCR) and NEPEM (The Women’s Studies Research Center) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) to begin a research-action project with women waste pickers in the state of Minas Gerais in 2012.

Relying upon participatory methodology tools and a gender and feminist perspective, the participants reflected on women’s autonomy, stereotypical gender roles and the main constraints for attaining greater equality and recognition in the diverse areas of social interaction during several workshops and activities. They also identified their practical and strategic needs for overcoming such obstacles given intersecting identities involving gender, class status, race and sexuality.

The participatory nature of the project was an important step in fostering gender awareness among women waste pickers, who by the very nature of their work are often even more invisible in urban settings. The project has also sought to disseminate information on gender inequality that may prove useful for the waste picking sector, among others. In order to so, it has published a series of resources and reflections on the different stages of the process.

For more information on the project’s design, outcomes and publications see: