USAID, Coca-Cola Foundation, WWF partner to empower women to address ocean plastic crisis

(Seated) Katherine Custodio, WWF-Philippines Executive Director; Rene Acosta, USAID Clean Cities, Blue Ocean (CCBO) Program Asia Regional Director; and Cecilia Alcantara, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines President sign the MOU that aims to help empower women in the waste sector.  They are joined by Anna de Chavez, Women in Waste’s Economic Empowerment Activity Manager; Jon Angin, USAID CCBO Program Chief of Party; Cloda Marie Urquico, WWF-Philippines Corporate Partnerships Manager; and Atty. Cashmer Dirampaten, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Trustee and Vice President.

In celebration of Women’s Month and Earth Day, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Inc. and the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines (WWF-Philippines) to empower women in the waste sector.

Through the Women in Waste’s Economic Empowerment Activity under the Clean Cities, Blue Ocean program, USAID will work with partners to transform their business ideas into startups, expanded enterprises, or franchised operations through training, mentoring, and funding.

“USAID believes that to save our planet, we need to invest in our planet,” said USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn.  “USAID is pleased to find an ally in Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines and WWF-Philippines in uplifting the lives of Filipino women working in the informal waste sector and turning the tide in ocean plastic pollution.”

Women play a critical role in the solid waste management and recycling sectors.  The majority of them serve in informal positions as waste collectors, owners, or employees of small recycling centers, junk shops, and upcycling enterprises.  Despite their prevalence in the sector, women face gendered structural barriers that limit their earning power and constrain their access to opportunities for upward mobility.  They are underpaid compared to their male colleagues, and their contribution in preventing plastic litter from reaching the ocean is undervalued.

“Our partnership with USAID and Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines will help us transform the lives of women who are our frontliners in protecting our environment,” said WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio.  “We look forward to working with women entrepreneurs in Metro Manila in crafting solutions to address plastic pollution problems.”

USAID strongly believes that partnerships and collaboration designed according to local systems and environments are integral to successfully address gender inequality and ocean plastic pollution.

“Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines is pleased to partner with USAID and WWF-Philippines in helping women in waste establish successful businesses that will improve their lives,” said Coca Cola Foundation Philippines President Ma. Cecilia Alcantara.  “We are thrilled to support initiatives that will help establish effective community recycling and proper waste management solutions.”