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‘It’s No Longer Funny’: The Funding Wars That’ll Dictate Our Future

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By Pooja Parvati:

Newsflash: In the recently-concluded G20 Meet (15-16 November) in Brisbane, Australia, US President Barrack Obama and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe committed to $4.5 billion towards a Green Climate Fund (GCF), a U.N. fund to help developing nations cope with global warming that aims to collect $10 billion by early-2015. Four days later in a meeting of the GCF countries in Berlin, the amount grows to $9.3 billion promised by 22 countries that also includes developing countries like Mexico, Indonesia, and Mongolia.

obama G20

 

The GCF was set up as an outcome of the 16th meeting of the UN Conference of State Parties in 2010 to part-finance an annual $100 billion commitment till 2020 to rein in fossil fuel pollution. If it took four years for 22 countries (that also included some developing countries) to commit to just the start-up funds, wonder how feasible it is to think that countries would collectively provide $10 billion every year for the next six years.

This reminds me of the Scandinavian pop artist Meja’s hit solo album titled ‘Seven Sisters’ of 1998 where she sang:

 “…We find strange ways of showing them how much we really care

 When in fact we don’t seem to care at all

 This pretty world is getting out of hand

 So tell me how we failed to understand

It’s all about the money…I don’t think it’s funny…”

I am talking about climate financing also because it is a key part of our ongoing conversation around the post-2015 development agenda. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will come into effect post-2015 are going to be defined by their emphasis on sustainable development; the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is one of the ways to achieve sustainable development.

Globally, the amounts needed for climate change mitigation (this means preventive measures such as – checking global temperature rise, protecting forests and oceans that are also known as carbon ‘sinks’) ranges from $ 400 to 1,200 billion a year by 2030. For climate change adaptation (this means efforts to adjust to future climate change such as – a farmer planting more drought-resistant crops or a city ensuring that new coastal infrastructure can accommodate future sea level rise), the bill works out to anywhere between $ 50 to 170 billion per year by 2030. The proposed GCF with a pool of $100 billion aims to address this deficit to some extent.

On what it would cost to finance some of the other critical areas such as healthcare and education, a UN Committee (called the Intergovernmental Committee on Sustainable Development Financing) with 30 experts from across all regions globally worked out estimates and submitted its report in August 2014 to the UN General Assembly. The calculations highlight how wide the gap still remains.

Sample this: a global safety net to eradicate extreme poverty in all countries would cost $66 billion while eliminating hunger by 2025 would be possible with $50.2 billion. Universal health coverage and universal primary education comes with a price tag of $37 billion and $42 billion respectively. Throw in an additional $27 billion and you can ensure water and sanitation for all. To fund infrastructure projects in areas like water, agriculture, telecom, power, transport, buildings, industry and forestry, we would need a whopping $5000 billion. All of this adds up to $5222 billion on a yearly basis.

Do you know how a global safety net to end poverty is defined? It is measured in terms of increasing incomes of the poorest to a $1.25 a day benchmark. Activists have been voicing their concern about this paltry amount ($1.25) which translates to a meager Rs.75 a day.

What can Rs.75 buy for an Indian family of four living in the capital city of Delhi? A litre of skimmed milk = Rs.34; a kilogram of onions = Rs. 25-30; a kilogram of wheat flour = Rs. 16. And we are not even looking at electricity or transport, leave alone shelter, water and sanitation that are basic entitlements for a life with dignity. Now do you agree why the mythical poverty line has also been called the starvation line? Any lower than this and you would cease to exist.

One last fact: Official Development Assistance (ODA) stood at $134.8 billion in 2013, the highest level ever recorded. If we compare this to the massive bill of $5222 billion that we have accumulated to ensure some basic services, it is clear that ODA covers just 2.5% of the bill. This means we cannot rely on ODA alone and will need to look at other options as well.

The same UN Committee Report flagged some of the other sources available to us to tap into. These include: increased taxes collected by governments, private sector contributions, international trade and financial markets. Checking the outflow of income through tax evasion and flow of black money (money that is earned without paying taxes) are also ways to enhance available funds for development. There is a lot of talk now of contributions from the corporate and business houses – my only concern is there is not enough conversation around holding them to account.

And to ensure that the funds from these sources do not get misused, we would need policy reforms such as increased transparency, access to information and improved governance mechanisms. The Indian PM Narendra Modi mentioned this at the G20 Meet when he voiced the need for increased tax transparency and automatic exchange of tax information as vital to bring back the black money that has flown out of India. The G20 outcome Communiqué promises to put in place automatic tax information exchange processes by 2017-18. Not next year, or the year after, but three years from now!

Something tells me we need to keep a close watch as milestones continue to get pushed without any concrete actions in sight. Echoing Meja’s sentiment, the success of the new development agenda would rest entirely on how much, how well and in what way the money will flow in and direct the priorities for the next 15 years. And yes, it’ no longer funny!

You must be to comment.
  1. Gaurav

    every human is trying to find the meaning of life and unless a human being can find meaning of life, there will be no peace of mind. all these calculations are useless.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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