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A Commander Of The Climate Strike, Greta Thunberg Gives Us More Than Hope

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“Do you think Sweden is taking relatively better steps to fight climate change?”

“Of course not! We are in the top ten countries in terms of per capita carbon footprint according to WWF.” Greta Thunberg responded determinedly and boldly.

The reporter also asked her, “What would you like to say to countries like India?”.

“I think the people of India have the right to improve their standard of living first, here in Sweden we have everything we need and that is why we have more responsibility.”

These are the words of a 16-year-old teenager, which she shared while answering the questions of an Indian journalist last year. Today, that girl is an emblem of the global movement taking place across the world and everyone is appreciating her.

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish teenager. Read the above words once again; in these words, her concern for the global problem of climate change, as well as her understanding of the global dimensions of the climate change is evident.

Whereas, on this issue, US President Donald Trump announced two years ago, that the US was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. He argued that India, Russia, and China were doing nothing to stop pollution, while the United States gave millions of dollars towards this cause. In my opinion, the truth is the opposite. India is also one of the countries affected by the climate change crisis.

Carbon emission reductions will have the greatest impact on fast-growing economies like India. By 2030, India has set a target of reducing its carbon emissions by 33–35 percent, over 2005. Also, UNEP’s emission gap report was sufficient to prove Trump’s allegation false. The report said that, of the G-20 countries, that account for the majority of emissions, only the European Union, India and China are following the targets. The truth is that Trump included the issue of separating the US from the Paris Climate Agreement in his election agenda, so Trump’s move was seen as fulfilling his election promise.

Greta has become a role model for her teenager peers around the world; this is at a time when teenagers in our country are busy being a part of the ‘tik-tok’ revolution, and adults are getting honorary degrees from WhatsApp University.

If we look into Greta’s past, we see that she came to know about the problem of climate change at the age of 11 and she was so sensitive that she went into depression due to this.

After nearly four years, when she recovered from depression last year, she decided that something had to be done about it. So, she started leaving school every Friday and in August last year, she started demonstrating outside Sweden’s Parliament in Stockholm.

Greta stopped going to school in 2018 at the age of 15 to protest against climate change. This movement soon went global. An estimated 1.6 million children from 125 countries demonstrated on the streets during protests in mid-March and a youth-led demonstration was planned around the world on September 20, 2019.

16-year-old Greta attracted worldwide attention with her determination. She has become a superstar of the climate change movement across the world. She has been called to speak at many international meetings and conferences. Thunberg is famous for her blunt but soft-spoken style. She spoke at the United Nations meeting on climate change in Poland in December last year, at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. She has spoken in the British Parliament in London, the Parliament of Italy and the European Parliament in France.

On September 17, in Washington DC, she addressed Climate Change Committees and the US Congress. Three other children had come from different countries. In front of the committees and lawmakers, Greta made her point that America and other countries should be serious about the climate crisis.

She said, “Stop telling people that everything will be fine when in fact, as it looks now, it won’t be very fine. This is not something you can package and sell or ”like” on social media.”

Greta pointed at how President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was reached to set a goal of reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. While addressing the US Congress, Greta fiercely said that America is the largest carbon-producing country in the history of the world. “The USA is the biggest carbon polluter in history. It is also the world’s number one producer of oil. And yet, you are also the only nation in the world that has signalled your strong intention to leave the Paris Agreement. Because quote “it was a bad deal for the USA”.”

It’s not that she is only preaching to us, she is practising all the small, but basics of a healthy climate. She has decided not to fly. She travels by land or by boat in the sea. She has crossed the Atlantic in two weeks by a solar-powered boat. This boat does not emit carbon. At this age, Greta took such a big risk. She reached America, challenging the sea breeze; bad weather delayed her arrival in New York. 

On 14th August, she left from Plymouth port in Britain. After travelling more than two and a half thousand nautical miles, she reached New York; there were many teenager and people to welcome her. Within Europe, she travels by train. Her argument is that planes release too much carbon, which affects the climate. And if we are to believe international news media reports, she and her family are also vegans.

These words by the  United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are a reminder of how important Greta Thunberg’s work really is, “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. It is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”    

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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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