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Red Tape Movement: People’s Movement For Trees, Biodiversity And Climate Action

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WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

Earth is under the grip of climate change which, in turn, is the result of increasing level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs)—due to deforestation, urbanization, industrialization, pollution and increasing human population. Melting of polar ice caps, oceanic acidification, increasing global temperature, flood, drought, increasing sea level, and depleting biodiversity are important impacts of “Climate Change”. Anthropogenic activities are raising the level of CO2 by about two parts per million a year in the atmosphere.

According to the Centre For Research On The Epidemiology Of Disaster (CRED) & UNISDR, people exposed to natural hazards in low-income countries are seven times more prone to deaths, and six times more prone to injuries or displacement compared to equivalent populations in high-income countries.

According to the IPCC 2014 report, the damage caused by climate change will increase as temperatures rise, and it will affect vulnerable populations through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements.

Climate change threatens to create a vicious cycle for the world’s poor, as further warming pushes more people into poverty, increasing their vulnerability to climate impacts. Extreme weather threatens critical services like electricity, housing, food production and water supply. According to UNISDR, climate-related and geographical disasters have killed 1.3 million people worldwide and injured 4.4 billion in the last 20 years.

Globally, floods are the most frequent natural disaster, affecting the highest number of people across the biggest geographical area. According to NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority), India is highly vulnerable to flooding with more than 40 million hectares or 12% of India’s total geographical area prone to floods. So, we must develop a better and natural “GHG Sink system” to achieve 350 ppm CO2 level in the atmosphere. Trees are the “Best Natural Sinks” of CO2 on land and will be helpful to tackle climate change.

Red Tape Movement

I started the Red Tape Movement as an anti-deforestation awareness movement to save trees and biodiversity, when I was posted as the District Savings Officer of District Etawah (Uttar Pradesh, India), on June 5, 2008.

Under this movement, especially on holiday, we choose a village or community place and do a plantation drive, tie red tapes on existing tree trunks with the help of people and administer an “oath to save nature”. We deliver the message that cutting trees will be lethal for us and our generations to come. Since 2008, we have tied red tapes on thousands of trees and made people at grassroots aware of climate change and the importance of nature conservation. The Red Tape Movement is working actively to achieve the UN’s SDG 13.

The Red Tape Movement was also the global partner for the “Rise For Climate” global event and had organised the event in more than 350 education departments of rural schools through “Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh” and “Mission Shikshan Samvad Uttar Pradesh”. About 10,000 students and teachers participated in this event on September 8, 2018. The general-secretary of “Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh”, Mr Avanindra Jadaun (District Etawah) led the event along with Mr Vimal Kumar, Teacher in Junior High School (District Kanpur Dehat). On September 8th, rural schools, in throughout Uttar Pradesh, participated in a plantation drive aimed at making students and villagers aware of environment conservation and climate change. Students tied red tapes on tree trunks and took an “oath” to save trees and biodiversity, and to live an environment-friendly life.

This year the Red Tape Movement is running a “Saplings to Trees” awareness drive in primary schools in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. “Care After Plantation” is critical because, after plantation, people rarely go back to look at the status of the seedlings they planted; hence, the saplings often die. Trees give us life; it’s our duty to look after them as our family members.

The “Saplings to Trees” drive will encourage people at grassroots to help the saplings grow into trees. About 50,000 teachers and 500,000 students are expected to participate in the drive between August 14 to October 2, 2019. Mission Shikshan Samvad and Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh are the main organisers of this drive, which is running successfully in schools. From August 14 to September 18, 2019, two provinces, 70 districts, more than 3000 schools, 8000 teachers, 200,000 students and 1 million of their family members have been covered.

Red Tape Movement in the Himalayan province in Uttarakhand, India.

Red Tape Movement is also participating in other international events. For the recent “Global Climate Strike” between September 20–27 in different regions of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the students and teachers organised an awareness program for the villagers to bring home the message of saving and protecting saplings after plantation. Students, teachers, residents, police, religious heads, officers, local leaders and inmates in jail—all are participating for a better future!

Some pictures from the event:

We are at a tipping point. Now, we can’t live with energy from fossil fuels. 21st Century is the “Century Of Climate Change”, and it’s time to re-empower our communities with clean and renewable energy so that we can make it the “Century Of Renewable Energy”. Anything less than this is out of line.

“United” we can save earth from Climate Change, through such peoples participatory grass root awareness movements and by living an eco-friendly life, for our future generations to come.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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