The Balifokus Foundation Indonesia, jointly with Women Engage for a Common Future - WECF International carried out a scoping study to investigate the dimensions of implementing the BRS conventions in Indonesia, between 19 and 24 February 2017. A documentary film will be made in the 2nd half of 2017.
On 23 February, these partners organised a multi-stakeholder forum on the topic of Gender and the BRS Conventions in the capital, Jakarta, with 38 experts from ministries of Environment and Health, science institutes, WHO, UNIDO, trade union representatives, health professionals and environmental and women NGOs including the breastfeeding mothers association and campaign to stop the use of Lindane.
The scoping study found a general practice of open burning of plastic waste and other waste by households, mostly done by women. Despite this, the legislation to end one-way plastic bags use could not be implemented. The capital Jakarta sends its waste to a neighbouring municipality which has grown into a waste sorting and ‘recycling’ area. Unfortunately, the waste is burned and melted without filters, leading to high emissions of dioxins and furans and other POPs. Men, women and children work and live in the waste dump area.
Farmer associations are worried about imports of wrongly labelled hazardous pesticides and lack of knowledge, in particular of women farmers, of the associated health risks. POPs flame‑retardant levels measured in the commercial district of Jakarta are 100 times higher than in the residential areas, posing a health risk for workers, both women and men, but companies lack information and alternatives.
The first promising highlight is the ban-lindane campaign led by a working-mother to ban lindane-anti-lice treatment, which has immediately gathered 10,000 signatures and the attention of the media. Another highlight is the campaign of a young school pupil to create a network of ‘e-waste collection bins’ around Jakarta, where people can bring their old phones and cables to then be safely recycled. The problem however, is its extremely low price. The government has a website to inform about consumer products with banned products such as mercury in skin bleaching creams, and a hotline for the population to inform about trespassing shops. NGOs such as Gita Pertiwi and Balifokus foundation do awareness raising and information for target groups such as women farmers using hazardous pesticides and gold miners using mercury in their homes. The government announced major measures to reduce plastic litter entering the ocean last week during the Ocean Summit in Bali.
Panellists at the Multi-stakeholder meeting on 23 February, including from the Gita Pertiwi Foundation working with women farmers to reduce pesticide exposure and the breastfeeding mothers association who found that 74% of their members did not know that mothers can give harmful chemicals to their child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Sorting waste ‘at home’ involves many women. Next door ‘home factories’ are burning and melting plastics waste, Styrofoam waste, electronic PVC cables and hospital plastic waste, probably producing dioxins to which workers, but also families and domestic animals are exposed, entering into eggs and (human) milk. Unfortunately there are no resources to test dioxin levels. A challenge is how to protect livelihoods for women and men working in the informal waste sector, while eliminating POPs exposure.