The Ragpicker from Pune who Spoke at an International Conference in Geneva and Inspired Everyone


This is a part of the TBI Bioscope series. As part of this series, we discover & showcase the best of positive stories across the web.

From getting ID cards and uniforms to health insurance and scholarships for their kids, Suman has given a new respect to the ragpickers. Watch her speak at the ILO conference in Geneva about her challenges and how she revolutionized the way waste pickers are treated in the country. 

Suman More, a 50-years-old waste picker from Pune who had spent her entire life picking up waste, would have never imagined that one day over 2,000 experts from all over the world would be listening to her speak about her work.

Suman More

Suman More

Photo: globalrec.org

But Suman is not just a regular ragpicker. She has revolutionized the way the ragpickers’ community works and has given a new respect and identity to the thousands of waste pickers who were earlier ignored by society.

Having started with just 80 members, Suman’s organization – Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat – now has over 9,000 members in Pune.

Suman More & Harshad Barde of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat at the conference in Geneva.

Suman More & Harshad Barde of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat at the conference in Geneva.

Photo: YouTube

“We realized we could not deal with our problems all by ourselves. So we all came together to fight for our rights,” she says at the conference.

From getting ID cards and uniforms from the local municipality to organizing protests and demonstrations, Suman has given a new identity to the ragpickers.

As they sift through garbage, waste pickers, who are mostly women, have to fend off stray animals, their hands get wounded by shards of broken glass thrown carelessly in the rubbish, and harassment by the police is part of their daily routine. (Credit: Amit Thavaraj)

As they sift through garbage, waste pickers, who are mostly women, have to fend off stray animals, their hands get wounded by shards of broken glass thrown carelessly in the rubbish, and harassment by the police is part of their daily routine. (Credit: Amit Thavaraj)

Not just this, Suman and her team also take out 50 percent of the total waste and sell it to recyclers.

Gradually, Suman’s team of ragpickers demanded social security rights from the government and have health insurance. Not only this, they are now even getting scholarships for their children so they can opt for a better life.

Members of the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a powerful trade union of scrap collectors holds a rally in Pune. The union not only represents the collective identity and interests of scrap collectors, it is also a platform for them to voice their grievances. (Credit: Amit Thavaraj)

Members of the Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (KKPKP), a powerful trade union of scrap collectors holds a rally in Pune. The union not only represents the collective identity and interests of scrap collectors, it is also a platform for them to voice their grievances. (Credit: Amit Thavaraj)

Suman has made many more such changes in the lives of ragpickers and given them respect along with a more organized working process.

Watch the video to hear her speak about her work, challenges, impact, achievements and much more at the conference held at Geneva by the International Labour Organisation –


Related Read: A Union That Accords Dignity And Safety In Numbers To Women Waste Pickers


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