The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Ana Isabel Martinez Marquez

Ana Isabel Martinez Marquez, from Bogotá, Colombia, has been working as a waste picker since she was eight years old. She’s worked on the streets and open dumps.

She is a waste picker and representative of ASODIG (Associacion de Mujeres de Reciclaje Una Opcion Digna). It was founded 18 years ago by women. It began with 23 women members. She is also part of ANR, Colombia’s national network. She is also a leader with ARB, the a regional network there.

Today, 28 women and 4 men work at her association. Her organization works with companies and residents.

“We aren’t connected at all to municipal government – they don’t help at all,” she said.

She mostly does management work at the association but she sometimes drives the collection truck and separates material.

“This meeting is important so that we can unite as countries and come together on a global level to fight for our rights, for our work, so that people around the world can become aware,” she said. “We can create a critical mass here.”

She also learned that waste pickers from all the countries represented at the global workshop have the same demands and needs, including the need to fight for our rights within municipalities.

Her message: “Everyone needs to recycle. It’s not a choice anymore. Recycling is an obligation. We need air without contamination, for our children.”