The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

After tragedy, a fresh start for survivors

Scalping accidents disproportionately affect women and girls in northern Brazil. A new initiative is helping to empower survivors through entrepreneurship.

In northern Brazil, people use small boats as a common form of transportation. But exposed engines put people at risk of scalping accidents, caused when hair gets caught in the motor – tragically causing serious and lifelong injuries. These accidents largely affect women and girls.

Scalping accidents in Brazil

Of the 42 women surveyed, around 75% suffered a scalping accident before the age of 18.

UNOPS worked with Brazil’s Labour Prosecutor’s Office, responsible for inspecting compliance with labour legislation, and the Glória Institute to research the needs of people affected by scalping accidents. The work found that the majority were women who were unemployed or had limited job opportunities. Faced with the stigma of scalping injuries from a young age, many of these women had struggled to finish their education and find employment.

Based on this research, UNOPS designed a course to promote entrepreneurship. With support from the Instituto Rede Mulher Empreendedora (IRME), the course included digital tools, recorded lessons, live classes and practical activities to help affected women learn and develop new skills, and find new employment opportunities. The initiative was awarded the Labour Prosecutor’s Office’s Diversity Award.

Now, the women have a strong network of support. Equipped with a renewed sense of confidence, they are working to develop their own businesses and use the skills they learned to re-enter the job market. 

Watch their story.

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