The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
Supported by Logo WIEGO

Sushila Sable

Since when have you worked with waste management/recycling?

In 1972, there was a drought in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. I was just 10 years old.  For survival, my family migrated to Mumbai in search of work and my parents started the work of waste picking. I couldn’t go to school. During my childhood I helped my parents in picking the waste. When I was a child, I still remember, behind the school, children used to throw the waste and I used to  pick up that waste then I used to give the collected waste to my mother. In the year of 1998,  Stree Mukti Sanghatana came into my life. The organization has created self help groups of waste pickers women and in 2004,  Parisar Bhagini Vikas Sangha which is Federation of waste pickers women was founded. Since 2004, I have been the president of Parisar Bhagini Vikas Sangha. Before we weren’t aware about our contribution for the environment but  Stree Mukti Sanghatana helped to raise the consciousness about our contribution for the environment and our rights through the various training and workshops.

What is your biggest dream as a waste picker?

My dream is that no one should put their hand in the dirty waste. People should recognize the larger contribution of waste pickers. There should be equal pay for equal work. Everyone should have access to quality education. The next generation of ours should not have to go through, through which we have been. Everyone should have respectable lives and humans should treat other humans like humans.

What does it mean for you to participate in such an important event representing your comrades?

There was no recognition of waste pickers and poors. Even though no one has recognised me and my work, there are lots of organizations working for us and recognizing our work which makes me happy. I am getting the chance to speak about the lives and struggles of waste pickers on such a huge platform, this makes me very happy.

If all people around the world could hear you, what message would you like to send/tell?

Rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There should be equality. There should not be any discremination on the basis of caste and religion.

Sushila Sable is part of the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers.