Spotless Dame – combating menstrual hygienic poverty while reducing plastic waste

Description of the project: This project addresses the interconnected challenges of plastic waste, extreme poverty, unhygienic practices during menstruation, and sustainable livelihoods. It enables adolescent girls and community women to lead healthy lives by breaking myths and taboos surrounding menstruation and creating awareness about healthy practices. More than 6,500 Mera Pads -reusable cloth pads made from bamboo- have been distributed. Their production and sales have created new jobs for 25 women, improving the livelihoods of their families. Over 7,500 women and girls have been trained in menstrual hygiene through 92 Workshops in 30 villages across 8 districts of Rajasthan. Awareness raising programs were also organised for boys and men to break the cycle of menstrual discrimination.

Climate impact: Disposable sanitary pads result in the unsustainable discharge of millions of tonnes of plastic waste all over the world, which are nearly non biodegradable. One woman using disposable pads and tampons for menstrual hygiene will generate around 150 kg of plastic waste during her entire life, with an estimated carbon footprint of 900 kg CO2. This project has thus far supported 1,626 women with 6,504 reusable cloth pads, saving 31,219 kg of plastic waste and substantially reducing carbon emissions.

Gender impact: Access to safe menstrual hygiene can be a matter of life and death. Patriarchal discrimination of menstruating women still prevails in India. With affordable, sustainable alternative pads, this project has created jobs, improved the life of 1,626 women and raised the capacity of 7,500 girls and women on menstrual hygiene management. Programs to sensitise boys and men break gender taboos. Pragati Sakhis -environmental ambassadors- are selected to educate and empower women in their communities on environment and health.

Scalability: Started in one village in 2015, Spotless Dame has already been replicated in 30 locations from 8 districts. Pragati Sakhis -environmental ambassadors- endorse the role of multiplicators and ensure up-scaling. The business model based on a sustainable production with local materials and local people is easy to replicate. By 2030, the non-profit organisation aims to provide 1 million women with Mera Pads, creating sustainable jobs for at least 1,000 women.

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Safeguarding Endorois people’s knowledge and ecosystems via an inclusive and autonomous governance protocol

Description of the project: This project supports the discriminated Endorois people around Lake Bogoria to articulate their own priorities and procedures for the conservation of their natural resources by developing a Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP). It documents the ancestral knowledge of Endorois women and men on their ecosystems and provides proactive responses to climate impacts, among other threats. It guides the community on collective engagement with external stakeholders on access, use and management of their endogenous resources, based on the legal framework of the Nagoya Protocol. The elected Endorois Welfare Council, representing all 17 target communities (up to 60 000 people), and respecting gender balance, contributes to the protection of genetic and biological resources, including the neighboring ecosystems due to the transboundary nature of ecological effects.

Climate impact: The BCP ensures the use of Indigenous knowledge to launch initiatives to adapt to climate impacts – droughts, loss of biodiversity, invasive species – and unlock multiple socio-economic benefits. The community has documented their traditional beliefs and indigenous knowledge and thus, the BCP is an intergenerational negotiation tool to address collaboration with external actors and provide solutions that safeguard and complement traditional knowledge for climate resilience and other key environmental issues.

Gender impact: The BCP adopts an inclusive strategy where women were included in leading positions in the governance structures and have become active agents in environmental conservation. Women actively participated in the negotiations and articulation of their rights, culture and traditions for natural resource management. The BCP clearly maps out women’s age-set, with separate representation of female youth and elderly, and recognizes their roles and rights with regards to conservation. Capacity-building also enhanced their understanding of policy, legal and institutional frameworks.

Scalability: The BCP strengthens the community’s capacity to use traditional knowledge to achieve sustainable natural resource management, and it aims to influence other Indigenous communities in similar circumstances, having positive impacts on neighboring territories. Such methodology can be replicated in many endangered ecosystems. The Endorois people are able to protect their rights and knowledge via collective engagement with external stakeholders. As a result, with a more cohesive society, they can avert possible conflict situations among members of the community arising from declining natural resources.

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Sexual and reproductive health and rights as a basis for conservation action

Description of the project: FUNDAECO breaks traditional cultural barriers to ensure the SRH rights of adolescent girls in more than 100 isolated Mayan and Q’echqi communities of Guatemala, as a fundament for their involvement in forest conservation. 22 health clinics, established in Protected Areas of Izabal, have provided regular care and counseling to 50,000 patients (2/3 women), significantly reducing teenage pregnancies, and strengthening women’s leadership. Support provided in maternal and infant feeding, control of malnutrition and hygiene are linked to environmental protection activities, i.e good eating habits using natural resources, or sustainable waste management. A scholarship and youth leadership program contributes to end discrimination of women with formal and informal education.

Climate impact: FUNDAECO integrated SRHR in it’s approach to sustainable community development and conservation efforts of the Caribbean Guatemala Protected Areas. Trainings in managing and processing non-timber forest products are offered within a programme supporting more than 500 families of indigenous communities for the creation of 4,000 hectares of agroforestry systems. It includes planting rubber and fruit trees, black pepper, shade trees, and creating live wind barriers to increase the forest cover in agricultural and livestock systems, regenerating the forest’s biodiversity.

Gender impact: The 22 clinics have become a vehicle for women’s empowerment, and mobilised the communities around family planning issues, violence against women and sexually transmitted diseases. 10 communitarian first aid kits were developed. FUNDAECO worked with the Movement for Equity in Guatemala Association (AME), to develop training processes about human rights, SRHR and gender based violence. Scholarship support for 48 teenage girls enabled 15 of them to graduate and access new study opportunities. Women’s groups initiated new income generating activities contributing to improved livelihoods and enhanced status in their communities.

Scalability: From a pilot started in 2014 with 3 clinics, the project expanded to a network of 22 community-based clinics and 3 mobile ones. The success for up-scaling lies in the ability to integrate health care services, human rights and SRHR education into environmental protection activities and policies, taking into account cultural relevance for the Mayan groups – Q’eqchi, Mam, Chuj, Q’anjobal people. The scholarship program in particular has progressively become a multiplier among communities, with empowered young girls actively promoting new models of development.

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Transforming gender relations and turning to sustainable resource use in the Kilum-Ijim Forests of Cameroon

Description of the project: CAMGEW engages local and ethnic women in sustainable forest management, while enhancing their human and socio-economic rights and transforming patriarchal gender relations in the forest communities. Cooperating with Oku local authorities and the government of Cameroon, CAMGEW gives women the opportunity to assume leadership positions of forest institutions and stakeholder platforms. They provide a broad range of trainings to over 2000 people : environmental education for schools and adults, bee farming, agroforestry and organic farming, small livestock breeding and biogas production, entrepreneurship skills with financial assistance. This initiative helps 800 young women fight domestic violence through counseling on their rights, business opportunities and community sensitization to counter early marriages.

Climate impact: Training in agroforestry for 772 community members, two-thirds women, prevents soil erosion and deforestation, while responding to domestic food and firewood needs. Three plant nurseries provided farms at the forest periphery with 150,000 saplings. Forest education was imparted in schools, through social media, radio, social gatherings, men’s clubs. 240 Mbororo women gained skills on organic farming to improve fodder for their cattle and sheep, reducing farmer-grazer conflicts. 900 bee hives donated to farmers guard health of the forest.

Gender impact: CAMGEW has applied gender mainstreaming across all it’s activities: agroforestry and organic farming with cattle breeding, plant nurseries, beekeeping, business skills trainings for 1580 women, incl dressmaking & hairdressing for 20 girls; giving loans to 1325 of them. Counseling 800 victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse -including teenage mothers and HIV/AIDS infected- on their social rights, and empowering them with business skills and advice on nutrition and health, working on legalization of mariages, CAMGEW transforms the gender relations in patriarchal Mbororo communities.

Scalability: The project is a model of constructive cooperation and knowledge sharing with local and national public authorities and a broad range of stakeholders – research institutes, fondations, NGOs- making it replicable and scalable. Train the trainer scheme with use of local experts, enhances continuous learning and sustainability of this model. There are, for example, exchange visits between honey cooperatives, bee farmers and bee farmer groups. The Honeyshop is a demonstration centre for research, learning and marketing.

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