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The Body Shop India partners with Plastics for Change (PFC) India Foundation to ring in the festive season with a difference for female waste pickers. With the launch of 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 the social exclusion of their profession. 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 defence against the country's plastic pollution crisis.
Project N.A.R.I. is a grassroots initiative for female waste pickers in partnership with PFC Foundation in Bengaluru, Karnataka, focussed on four vital pillars namely Nutrition - Ability - Retraining – Inclusion. Specifically designed to address the pressing economic and social issues that female waste workers face, the project is aimed to directly benefit female waste pickers in Karnataka with the aim to positively impact their financial, health and family's well-being in the long-term.
The brand has also set up Project N. A. R. I. fundraising across all its stores and online in order to allow for voluntary consumer donations of INR 20 from its customers, to support these female waste pickers. For every customer donation, the Body Shop also promises to donate an equivalent amount for this cause. Through this, The Body Shop aims to create awareness and raise upto INR 5 Mn over the next 6 months towards Nutrition, Ability, Retraining and Inclusion needs of female waste pickers.
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 a spirit of activism and need to create awareness, raise funds to benefit local communities. This year, as we are all hit by the severity of COVID19 pandemic, we realise how much we owe to these Frontline Warriors in 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 affecting real change to benefit their lives as we fulfill the ambitions of this project.”
“Plastics For Change is thrilled to launch this campaign in India and it just re-emphasizes how The Body Shop's commitment to people and the planet is unparalleled in the industry. We are glad to have the opportunity to serve and provide safety to the waste-picker communities in India who are on the front-lines of this crisis.”, expressed Andrew Almack, CEO and Founder, Plastic For Change.
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 while providing access to safe nutrition and healthcare awareness.
The program also includes strong measures of financial inclusion such as access to about 6-8 governmental social and financial security schemes which will lessen their economic vulnerability. In an attempt to promote behavioral change towards savings, cash incentivization has been 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 anaemia 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 anaemia.