With the Spain Embassy refusing to provide transit visa, a woman waste-picker from Kagad Kach Patra Kashtkari Panchayat (KKPKP), who had been invited to speak at the World Urban Forum 2014 to be organised in Columbia on “Urban Equity in Development”, had to cancel her plan.
Suman More was among the three Indian women selected to speak at the event. The Spain Embassy refused to provide transit visa to all three saying they do not have sufficient “financial health” to return to their country of origin.
The KKPKP finds the refusal surprising as the team had attached with their visa applications a letter from the organisers of the conference in which it had been made clear that it was going to be an all-expenses-paid trip. The Columbia government had granted them a 15-day visa, but the Spanish Embassy, it seemed, thought they were too poor to change flight at the Madrid airport, rued KKPKP representatives.
The two other women — a street vendor and a domestic help — representing Ahemdabad-based NGO Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) were also supposed to participate in the Inclusive Cities (IC) and WIEGO (Women in Informal Economy Globalising and Organising) events during the World Urban Forum 7 from April 5 to 11.
More was to speak about how the Pune city had worked towards integrating waste-pickers into door-to-door collection of waste. She has already attended several international conferences.
KKPKP activist Maitreyi Shankar said: “They have cited two reasons for denying the transit visas. They said the workers did not have sufficient ‘financial health’ and that the they did not provide sufficient proof that they would return to their country of origin. This is really shocking since we had attached the letter from the organisers of the event, saying they would be bearing all the expenses of the to-and-fro travel and their stay,” said Shankar.