Women in Sanitation: SOIL’s Georgette François
The women at SOIL are passionate about increasing access to improved sanitation in the communities of Cap-Haitien because they know how much this access improves other women’s lives. This incredibly personal connection to the work often makes women some of the most passionate advocates for household sanitation.
Having a toilet at home ensures that women have a private, safe space to use the toilet and manage menstruation, and it increases safety from violence as women no longer have to rely on using a shared or public option outside of the home.
We recently spoke to SOIL’s Georgette François, a long-time member of SOIL’s Compost Site Staff and 2023 nominee of the TNUSSP Women in Sanitation, about her life and her job and what it’s like to be a woman working in sanitation.
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Georgette: I am a mother of six children. I gave birth to ten children but lost four. Before working at SOIL I made charcoal and sold it in the market so I could care for and raise my children.
Interviewer: What is your role at SOIL and what does a typical day look like?
Georgette: I am a waste treatment worker. I dump containers of waste and then wash and sanitize the containers. I also turn the waste piles, move the piles to windrows and also sieve compost.
Interviewer: How did you begin working at SOIL?
Georgette: I started working at SOIL in 2015. My kids were friends with a foreigner who asked to meet me one day. The children helped collect the wood seeds. At a time when my partner had an accident and couldn’t work, I asked to join the kids in collecting wood seeds and that’s how I got the job.
Interviewer: What are your thoughts about the impact that sanitation services have on your community?
Georgette: Since SOIL started offering the service in my community, many people have stopped practicing open defecation because now they have toilets to use. When people practice open defecation it puts community members at risk of catching diseases. Thanks to SOIL, this risk has been reduced.
Interviewer: Do you feel that working in sanitation is challenging or is any more challenging because you are a woman?
Georgette: There is no difference at SOIL between men and women working because we all work the same way – we work hard and do the same jobs. As women, we do our best to complete the tasks that require more physical abilities, that are usually jobs that only men do. SOIL has given us women this great opportunity and we are proving that we are strong and can do well at the same jobs as men.
Interviewer: Where do you hope to see Haiti in the next 10 years?
Georgette: I would like Haiti to change for the better. I would like for there to be peace so that people can live without looking over their shoulders and worrying about safety. I would also like for there to be more job opportunities that allow mothers to take care of their children financially.
Thank you Georgette, for working tirelessly everyday to help keep SOIL’s composting waste treatment operations running smoothly. We are so grateful to have on our team. Join us in sharing your congratulations with Georgette on her 2023 Women in Sanitation nomination!
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