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We Should All Be Worried About The Amazon Rainforest Burning Down

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Environmental science was one of the subjects that fascinated me when I was in school. We studied about the diverse species of flora and fauna on this earth and how some of them survive because of the other. At the same time, some depend on others for food and other forms of survival. Earth is a beautiful place being populated with these species. Amidst all this, the teachers mentioned the “Earth’s Lungs” – the Amazon rainforest.

Plants take in carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis and release oxygen. The rainforests of the Amazon produce oxygen for a great portion of the Earth.

Now when I mentioned Amazon, some will think about Jeff Bezos and his fortune, or the new Alexa devices. Any news about that will earn more comments and reactions and media coverage.

Well, the Earth’s lungs have been choking for weeks and it still takes a lot for the world media to understand the seriousness of the issue.

I myself came across this news via Instagram. I follow actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who is also an environmentalist. He pointed out that the Amazon rainforest has been burning for weeks, maybe more, at a record rate of 73,000 forest fires, which was twice of what happened last year.

People around the world mourned for the burning of Notre Dame and we saw billionaires donating large amounts to get it repaired. Losing the lungs of the Earth will affect everyone irrespective of their economic strength or social status. It is a fact. One can presume how severe the situation just by seeing the smoke which is captured by NASA satellites.

About The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest or the Amazon jungle is the tropical rainforest that covers a large portion of South America. 60% of the forest is in Brazil with Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Peru and Colombia sharing it.

Owing to the growing population, rainforests around the world are disappearing. The Amazon is basically half of what is left in this world. The rainforests are home to many species of flora and fauna. Who is to blame?

Brazil as a country is facing all the heat as the forest mostly resides in the country. The National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, popularly known as INPE) has released information regarding over 75,000 wildfires in the Amazon rainforest. It is no secret that Brazilian president fired Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, the INPE director, who is a “well-respected physicist” stating that the INPE’s data was an anti-Brazil move.

Disturbing videos showing local tribes being attacked and their homes burned started making rounds as well. The election of conservative Jair Bolsonaro to power in Brazil came as a grave concern as his political and social views were no different from another world leader who also demeans and disregards scientific data about climate change and environmental destruction.

Bolsonaro is a right-wing leader who is vocally against LGBTQ+ rights, women’s right to safe abortion and secularism. He was not visibly bothered about environmental conservation. He made it easier for farmers to do slash and burn in Amazon rainforest. Lack of moisture and rainfall has led to an increase in the burning of the forests along with human activities.

Now, the President came up with explanations on why it happened including alleging this was started by NGOs deliberately and he has no proof to validate his claims. He also said that they cannot fight the fire. When the leader of the nation is desperately trying to just shift blame instead of seeking solutions then there is probably no intention to fight back in the first place.

Trump himself denied the existence of climate change. Adding insult to the injury, the US pulled out of the Paris agreement and happens to be one of the biggest exhausters of greenhouse gases.

The French president called this an international emergency, a move that was condemned by Bolsonaro by saying that it is a local issue.

Why Should It Bother Us?

Connect the dots. Global warming is happening. The disappearance of green, including the Earth’s lungs, will lead to the surge in gases that increase heat, which will melt the polar ice and it will lead to disasters that cannot be controlled. We cannot keep stealing the environment from our children. In India, Delhi has unbreathable air and the Western Ghats are in trouble due to human interference.

The leaders of the nation should see to the rights of the environment. The ones who cannot do so, whatever be the reasons including money or religion, should be voted out.

The Notre Dame can be remade. But the consequences we might face due to the destruction of natural resources is something that is irreversible. People all over should raise their voice.

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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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