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When It Comes To Climate Change, This Is A Lesson Indian Govt. Needs To Learn Fast And Now

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By Divya Sharma:

When we talk about climate change, it is important that we must understand that not only will long term policies pave the way out of this difficult situation, but  short term goals are equally important. At this year’s Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF) at COP21 in Paris, those drafts will become a major hit which will contain a long-term vision with a short-term goal and India needs to prove itself this time that it is thinking for some real, achievable targets.

India is one of those countries which is vulnerable to climate change and is already witnessing the effects of global warming. Scorching heat with dangerous heat waves, floods and famines in different regions, fast melting of the Himalayan belt causing landslides and increase in water levels in the low line areas, are to name a few. Climate change has come up as the biggest threat to the health of the people. Those who are less fortunate are paying high price for climate change, many times with the lives of their dear ones and sometimes they too get defeated by it.

Achievable Targets

India is in definite need of some achievable targets – long term and short goals both are needed at this point of time. Everyone knows that it is with some small steps that we cover long journeys.

Short term goals are required especially to put a stop on air pollution as India’s biggest and busiest cities are now topping the list of most polluted cities, which is surely not a good sign. Some stronger steps are needed in this area like promoting the use of bicycle and use more of public transport as and when required. Also, there could be a check on the purchase of two-wheelers and four-wheelers. Industries must be checked and warned time to time regarding their emissions, and legal steps must be taken against them if they try to ignore the call. Like our five year plans, there is a need for drafting a separate five-year plan for environment protection which must include some stronger measures that will be used to fight against climate change.

Our environment laws need a serious check too. They must be reviewed after every five years and modified according to the present situation. Here in India, people are most of the time seen taking environment laws for granted and are used to by-passing them. Scientists have already warned the world that if the present speed of gas emissions is not stopped timely, the results will be disastrous and the temperature will be seen at its new high. Currently, India in the month of September is going through a scorching heat like it is felt in the months of May or June! The highest temperature recorded in the month of September is 40 degree Celsius which has broken all time records!

The G7 countries support a long-term emissions phase out, but the biggest countries have not taken a clear stance. Though the good news is that slowly and steadily the biggest and the most developed countries like U.S. and Germany are giving out some positive signs and statements in support of zero emissions and a carbon-free world.

Renewable_energy_share_India_2013
Data from 2013. Image source: Wikipedia.

India must learn from other smaller countries how they are fighting climate change and cutting their dependency on carbon in order to achieve the ambitious zero emissions target. Recently, Masdar city of UAE was in the news because it has developed a fully clean energy powered city making good use of solar power. India must study what measures it must have used regarding this and it’s not a difficult thing for India because it is one of those countries which gets maximum sunlight round the year, almost in every season. It’s sad that in spite of having such a good and stronger source of energy, its speed has been slow in adopting and promoting clean energy.

Importance Of Paris Talks This Year

The world is eyeing on COP21, to be held this year in Paris, as there are some crucial decisions expected to be taken by the world leaders towards climate change and they will be showing their stand in support of zero emission policies. Still many big, giant countries are to show what is their call on the present climate change crisis and how much ready they are to fight with this global issue. Countries like Canada and New Zealand have boldly shown their full support towards zero emissions which is a big achievement. The recent statement of US President Mr.Obama has given a new hope to millions of green dreams. He said, “We refuse to surrender, the hope of a clean energy future to those who fear it and fight it.” People of the countries are now expecting a clean power plan which could save their health and future.

Paris talks this year will determine the position of the world and its true commitment to achieve energy independence from fossil fuels, freedom from carbon pollution. It is more important for India because it is going through a vulnerable phase right now. As quoted by Deutsche Bank, “Investment in Solar power in India could surpass investment in coal within the next five years.” 

This is the reason why Prime Minister Modi calls Solar energy the ultimate solution for India’s energy needs and there could be no better global platform than COP21 to let the world know about India’s green commitments and to convince its own countrymen that the solutions are on their way. India being one of the highest emitters will have to cut its dependency on carbon and fossils in order to achieve its financial and environmental prosperity.

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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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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