The Body Shop initiates ‘Project NARI’ to help women waste pickers

With Project N.A.R.I. (Nutrition - Ability – Retraining – Inclusion), The Body Shop acts true to its community roots and activist heritage through its support for female empowerment and sustainability, with its focus on India’s invisible frontline Covid19 warriors – female waste pickers.

The Body Shop India partners with Plastics for Change (PFC) India Foundation to ring in the festive season with a difference for women waste pickers. With Project N.A.R.I. (Nutrition – Ability – Retraining – Inclusion), The Body Shop acts true to its community roots and activist heritage through its support for female empowerment and sustainability, with its focus on India’s invisible frontline Covid19 warriors – female waste pickers.

Part of India’s 1.5 million waste pickers collecting over 6,000 tonnes of plastic every day, female waste pickers go unrecognized as essential workers even as they bear the burden of gender inequity, caste oppression, and social exclusion of their profession. Despite keeping our streets and cities clean and providing an indispensable environment and public health service, most waste pickers work without protective equipment, suffer from a lack of financial stability and adequate access to healthcare. Due to the COVI19 pandemic, prices offered for plastic waste have collapsed leading to rampant joblessness and severe poverty. Further, collecting waste from residences, hospitals, and other establishments, means increased vulnerability due to unsegregated and contaminated waste. The growing usage of disposable masks, gloves, and other protective materials is adding to the quantum of dangerous waste handled by waste pickers every day. Covid19 is not just a colossal health crisis, but also an immense challenge to India’s waste management system which is the key line of defense against the country’s plastic pollution crisis

Project N.A.R.I. is a grassroots initiative for women waste pickers in partnership with PFC Foundation in Bengaluru, Karnataka, focussed on four vital pillars namely NutritionAbility – Retraining – Inclusion. Specifically designed to address the pressing economic and social issues that female waste workers face, the project will directly benefit women waste pickers in Karnataka with the aim to positively impact their financial, health, and family’s well-being in the long-term.

The Body Shop Project NARI YoViewsThe Body Shop has set up Project N.A.R.I. fundraising to support these women waste pickers and set up Project N.A.R.I donations across all its stores and online in order to allow for voluntary consumer donations of INR 20 from its customers. For every customer donation, the Body Shop will donate an equivalent amount for this cause. Through this, The Body Shop aims to create awareness and raise up to INR 5 Mn over the next 6 months towards Nutrition, Ability, Retraining, and Inclusion needs of female waste pickers.

Project N.A.R.I. includes systemic interventions spanning 6 months which are required for sustainable, on-ground impact in reducing health & financial risks faced by female waste pickers. Some of the issues that The Body Shop and PFC India Foundation will address are reducing health risks by providing robust PPE kits; access to safe nutrition, healthcare awareness, and most importantly training and development of female waste-pickers towards becoming plastic quality engineers. The program also includes strong measures of financial inclusion such as access to banking systems and cash incentives for female waste-pickers working within the Plastics for Change system to help source recyclable plastic, sustainably.

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Peek into our first ever Virtual Launch event for Project NARI (Nutrition, Ability, Retaining, Inclusion)! To celebrate this festive season, we join Plastics for Change India Foundation in making a real change for our female wastepickers. Speaking at this event were our CEO, Shriti Malhotra; CEO & Founder of @plasticsforchange , Andrew Almack & CIO for PFC India Foundation, Shifrah Jacobs. We were honoured to have Manjula & Roopa who are beneficiaries of Project NARI join us and share their experiences. We had a wonderful time unveiling our plans & stay tuned for more! Join us and donate INR 20 on our website (link in bio). You donate, we match! Let’s do this together! #TheBodyShopIndia #TBSInd #TBSGiveHope #TBSDiwaliWithADifference #ProjectNARI

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Ms. Shriti Malhotra, CEO, The Body Shop India, while talking about the project says, “The Body Shop remains deeply committed to the vision of our founder Anita Roddick that business can be a force for good. Through project N.A.R.I, we continue to work with the spirit of activism, and need to create awareness, raise funds to benefit local communities.  While we have a Global partnership with Plastics for Change, we are also working to create a real impact for our female waste-pickers in India who are facing an unprecedented threat to their lives and livelihoods due to Covid19. This year, as we are all hit by the severity of the COVID19 pandemic, we realize how much we owe to these Frontline Warriors for keeping us safe at great risk to themselves. As we approach this festive season, we want to make a real difference to this community and celebrate the essential nature of the work they do to keep us all safe and healthy. With the support of our consumers, we look forward to effecting real change to benefit their lives as we fulfill the ambitions of this project.”

The project’s scope extends from safety and nutrition to capability-building and healthcare. Distribution of PPE kits (N-95 masks, caps, face shields, gumboots & gloves) to healthcare programs including awareness about maintaining social distancing at work and otherwise, amidst other preventive measures, form the elementary phase of the project.

As part of the gender inclusion measures of this program, PFC is specifically hiring female waste pickers and retraining them to take up plastic quality engineering roles. Each 3-month course with the entire cost of training, development, and stipends will be borne from the project funding to make them ‘job ready’ for placement into full-time employment. Financial inclusion for the female waste-pickers will include providing access to about 6-8 governmental social and financial security schemes which will lessen their economic vulnerability. In order to promote behavioral change towards savings, traceability, and transparency, cash incentivization will be deployed wherein the project will deposit an incentive of Re.1 for every 1kg of plastic traded with PFC verified scrap shops – directly into the bank accounts of the female waste picker.

With the objective of reducing malnutrition and anemia rates, the project includes distribution of a daily meal as well as daily protein & vitamin supplements to female waste pickers (including pregnant/lactating) as well as their children. Health awareness-building programs will also be conducted towards building a better understanding of balanced diets and available resources to battle anemia.

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