GOOD UNIVERSE, an organisation working for women sexual and reproductive health along with the impacts of climate change on women health receives a grant of Rs. 25 lakhs from CIE-IIIT Hyderabad, PRIF (Pernod Ricard India Foundation).
The grant was received for its project E3 for female sanitation workers in the districts of Rangareddy, Sangareddy and Hyderabad. The organisation aims to intervene into the lives of the most vulnerable community of women, the female sanitation workers. Through the project, Good Universe will Educate, Empower and Enable (E3) the female sanitation workers with the right tools and resources that will allow them to live a healthy and dignified life.
This grant is made possible through the WE Incubation Program operated by CIE-IIIT Hyderabad, one of India's largest and oldest deep-tech academic incubators, in collaboration with financial partner Pernod Ricard India Foundation (PRIF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pernod Ricard India.
The main component of this project is the health of the female sanitation workers. Good Universe is working very closely with these females to bring change in their lives.
Why Female Sanitation Workers?
Facing the intersectionality’s of discrimination, female sanitation workers are one of the most vulnerable communities of women. Being underpaid, undervalued, invisible and unrecognised these women strive to have good health and hygiene. Their exposure to hazardous waste puts their health at high risk.
“If you wake up early in the morning, you will see women cleaning the roads and public toilets, they are the Female Sanitation workers. We see them every day working without any break. These women clean and collect waste in their tri-cycle which they push for long-distance. Public roads and streets being their workplace, they often face the problems of unavailability of proper WASH facilities. During their menstrual cycle being closer to unhygienic environments and conditions along with improper WASH facilities puts them at a high exposure to health and hygiene problems. As a result, during their menstrual cycle, these female sanitation workers suffer from various infections, rashes, bruises on the thighs as well as stomach cramps and lower body pains. Because of the socio-economic status and stigma around menstruation, these women fail to approach and express their needs and pains.
Not only this, the psychosocial risks of female sanitation workers indicate that the mental health of these women often goes unaddressed. With COVID-19 uncertainties and socio-economic situation, there is a rise in mental health issues among this community of women.” says Kamal Nayak, Founder of Good Universe.
What is Project E3?
E3 stands for Educating, Empowering and Enabling. Project E3 is the new initiative of Good Universe intervening in the lives of female sanitation workers. By educating, empowering and enabling with the right and adequate tools and resources, Good Universe’s E3 Project adds to the ability of female sanitation workers to live a healthy life and adapt informed lifestyle practices.
After receiving the grant of 2.5 million from CIE IIIT-Hyderabad and PRIF, E3 will be functional among female sanitation workers of Sangareddy, Rangareddy and Hyderabad. The major action areas of this project will be sexual and reproductive health, mental health, non-communicable diseases and breast and cervical cancer.
Kamal Nayak mentions, “Sanitation workers have been kept away from the mainstream knowledge and information around sexual & reproductive health, mental health, breast and cervical cancer and non-communicable diseases. Based on the survey conducted among FWS by Good Universe, women at the age as young as 22 underwent hysterectomy in private hospitals for reasons like contraception, swollen uterus which is not the right thing to do. Lack of awareness and understanding being the major reason for this to happen. Our aim is to provide comprehensive health care to these female sanitation workers. In the first phase, we will be working with 6000 FSWs.”
Through E3, Good Universe would be supporting and engaging female sanitation workers and their adolescent girls in active health programmes and provide them with the knowledge to navigate and voice out through various health issues they often come across due to their poor working conditions.