Lombok, March 8, 2020 — For 10 underprivileged Muslim women in South Lombok, this International Women’s Day will live long in their memories. Instead of spending the afternoon fertilizing plants or struggling to sell traditional foodstuffs, female volunteers of the local not-for-proﬁt Invest Islands Foundation were treated to special gifts, a picnic in the sunshine, a wholesome hamper of food, and told just how important they each are to the organization.
Women in Indonesia are statistically rated with a lower life expectancy, education and per capita income than men. Yet female enterprises contribute 10 percent of the country’s GDP and also help reduce the volatility of local economic downturns. More working women make for a better country. When those women are involved in collecting plastic trash for recycling, their impact on the environment and the local community is unquestionable.
That was the thinking of the Invest Islands Foundation when, in August 2019, it decided to recruit 10 deprived women from South Lombok to help collect waste from the beaches in Torok Bay. In return, each woman receives the equivalent of 250,000IDR per week in daily essentials such as rice, vegetables, and eggs, as well as credit towards their electricity bills, and hard currency. The reward model is designed to avoid providing cash to at-risk individuals, instead of aiming to provide goods and services that can help sustain an entire family.
Ibu Runi is a 49-year-old Muslim mother-of-two and has worked with the Foundation as a waste collector since its initiation last year. She says the Foundation’s community-based initiative has greatly improved her life.
“I work on a farm fertilizing plants,” Runi said. “That involves working from early in the morning until 5 pm, non-stop. For that, I get just 50,000 rupiah (US$3.50), which is not even enough to buy sugar and coffee. Since I joined the Invest Islands Foundation project six months ago, I collect plastic for two hours each morning and get supplies of rice, oil, eggs, onions, and garlic. It helps me a lot. With that I can eat better so I am very grateful to be involved. It is because of this project that I can survive.”
Every day, Indonesia generates 24,000 tonnes of plastic waste, more than 80 percent of which goes unsorted. Without organized sorting, waste is difﬁcult to recycle and is more likely to eventually end up in a landﬁll site or the ocean. Since the Invest Islands Foundation project began, it has resulted in the collection of more than 3,800kg of waste, all of which is then sent for sorting and recycling, eventually being reintroduced to the world as anything from surﬁng ﬁns to cooking pots.
“We are very proud of our women collectors, who show great care and commitment every morning to help keep our island clean,” said Wahyu Setiawati, Community Organiser for Invest Islands Foundation. “That is why we wanted to not only give a special thank you and present them each with food hampers but also to demonstrate to them that they are an important part of the community and are helping keep the island — their home — beautiful.”
Lombok, situated in West Nusa Tenggara, is just a 30-minute ﬂight from Bali and has been earmarked by the Indonesian Government as an island with massive growth potential in the tourism sector. The island is set to host a round of the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship at a custom-made street circuit in South Lombok.