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We Need To Save Our Planet To Avoid A ‘Judgement Day’

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Almost all sacred texts are obsessed with the occasion of the ‘final judgment’ when individuals have to answer for their deeds. The Judgement Day, the law of Karma, Yawm ad-Din (or Yawm al-Din) – every religion upholds the belief that our actions will have consequences, and they will be irreversible. Better clean up your act now – so that when the Judgement Day does arrive, the balance tips in your favor.

The interpretation of karmic law has always been at the individual level.  You lead a good life – you ascend to heaven. Thy neighbour chose an opposite path – thy neighbour descends to hell. But what about your failure to turn their life around, or what about their influence in your good deeds?

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch (Source: Wikipedia)

One need not go too deep into mythological texts to understand this. Even our documented history shows that an individual can never escape their responsibility towards society. Nor can they escape society’s fate. When it comes to powers beyond human control, the consequences befall everyone equally. The tsunami shall sweep everything off, the monsoon will water everyone’s fields and the meteors wiped out all the dinosaurs. Perhaps, nature is too lazy to maintain individual scoreboards and it may well be unfair. But that is how it works.

What if the Judgement Day is not an individual ‘report-card distribution day’ – but rather, an irreversible consequence of our actions? And every day we move towards it, quite rapidly. No higher power needs to maintain a record. All that’s required is a simple ’cause-and-effect’ scheme churning around us continuously. Never stopping, as we run our car’s exhaust or turn off an unused light… As we dump tons of plastics or water a plant.

Each action, with its consequences, contributes to a ‘global sum’ and a ‘global consequence’. And then, some day (it currently seems inevitable), the earth will become inhabitable for us and human kind will be wiped out. And that will be our judgement!

Our demise will be hastened by our twin derogatory attributes: our greed to consume resources and degrade environment, and our apathy towards it. On the one hand, in our blind pursuit of ‘development’, we are degrading earth irreversibly at unprecedented pace. And our apathy ensures we do not pay heed to the alarming conditions, while there is still time. So, while our phones and refrigerators and homes turn ‘smarter’, the society more grows retarded.

Everyone is aware of the increasing pollution levels, disappearing wildlife and forest covers. And everyone also knows how this will irrevocably degrade the quality of our lives. The signs are already visible. Just look at our health condition and the extreme climatic conditions. The tropical hurricanes are getting worse, affecting millions of life and destroying property worth billions.

Yet, we are so engrossed in the routine of our life that we hardly pay serious attention to these issues and take action. We continue with our lives unperturbed – as if all of this was some minor inconvenience that will disappear over time. While the truth is, our lifestyle and apathy worsens the situation every minute. If only the particulate matter could accumulate at the end of day and fall as boulders from the sky, crashing our beloved cars! I wish the melting polar water would burst over our habitats, instead of gradually raising the sea levels! Then our urgency towards resolving these issues might increase. Sadly nature does not work that way. It works slowly, giving us chances but also testing our urgency – and then, the change is here to stay.

The people who are worst-affected by it and can make change to the situation need to be awakened. Recently, the people of Tamil Nadu stopped the reinstatement of a copper plant which would have otherwise degraded the environmental conditions severely. This sets up a good example for the rest of us.

More such steps are required from people everywhere to protect their local environment. The migration to eco-friendly practices is associated with additional financial burden. But considering the cost we pay otherwise, in form of tsunamis and cloud-bursts, crop failures and flooding, we need to make educated decisions. The media should get over Meghan Markle and Taimur, and instead have dedicated columns for bringing facts and explaining the worsening situation in simple terms, so that the masses can understand them. Only then do we stand a chance to survive. And for our deeds, we will be rewarded on our Judgement Day, by not having to face one.

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Featured image used for representative purposes only.

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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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