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Climate Change: The Need To Build Awareness And Acceptance Is Now!

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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.

We are living in a world where many are still circumspect about the scientific forecasts on climate change. Their view is that the forecasts are still uncertain and the debate around it is louder than it deserves to be. In short, the warning-bells are simply false alarms. Add to this a huge chunk of our population who are simply unaware of the changes occurring in our environment and natural resources due to the impact of climate change, many of the parents of children who will grow up on this earth in the years to come; and one can understand why building awareness and acceptance of the impact of climate change is all the more imminent.

It may already be too late to say that we should desire to leave behind a better planet for our next generation, but there is still time to say that we should desire to leave behind a slightly less ruined planet for them.

While the latest UN-IPCC scientific report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was particularly worrying, let us, as a layman, observe the general happenings around us. The timing and frequency of rains have been shifting in recent years. Take the monsoon rains across South Asia since the last decade as an example. A region which is still predominantly rain-dependent for its agriculture, erratic rain patterns are causing massive swings in the final output of key crops, thus impacting its supply and ultimately the price consumers like us pay. Frequent incidents of floods in our cities due to reducing wetlands floods, erratic freshwater supply to our homes due to drying up of key rivers and lakes and lung-related ailments as a result of breathing polluted air are just some more examples.

Apart from direct impacts like these, there are indirect impacts too. For instance, the distress that erratic rainfall and cyclonic patterns cause to our rural agrarian community is leading to higher rates of rural to urban migration of people, causing significant pressure on our cities’ civic resources and a social challenge due to a large inflow of unemployed youth. Another indirect impact is that the severe pollution and reduction of our natural capital is leading to the disappearance of several flora and fauna around us, all of whom play a crucial role in the natural ecosystem. Take the case of beneficial insects and birds who play a vital role as pollinators and predators to pests in our farms. How many do we see left today?

All in all, one can either live in denial of this issue or else convert this into a multi-billion business opportunity to give people new solutions to tackle the challenge. Both options may not be really feasible in developing countries of South Asia. The first option is not feasible for obvious reasons. The second reason is also a challenge because most high-tech solutions are expensive and hence, out of the purchasing power of a mass chunk of our population. And our region has a large population and is relatively poor, at the end of the day!

So What Is The Best Solution In Such Circumstances?

We need breakthrough solutions that are both low-cost, hence can be implemented by masses, and have long-term benefits, so that we are not forced to invest in new plans every year. Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India, offers such a solution on one of our key needs: food. Its Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) policy aims to cover all the farmers of the state by 2025. ZBNF farming practices involve using natural inputs as bio-inoculants instead of chemical fertilizers. Chemical inputs in our farms are seen to have caused significant damage to our natural resources over the last fifty years, from ruining the soil-health to reduced absorption of rainwater. The natural inputs used in ZBNF farming are available within the villages and at a far lower cost than the expensive fertilizers and pesticides of the chemical industry.

Moreover, the natural farming system creates better quality crops, which has long-term benefits for the health of the consumers, unlike food from chemical-based farms which often have chemical residue. Thus, the lower medical and paediatrician bills is an indirect benefit in itself! Low-cost and long-term beneficial solutions like these can help us combat the impacts of global warming and climate change better, especially in the South Asian community.

In conclusion, it may already be too late to say that we should desire to leave behind a better planet for our next generation, but there is still time to say that we should desire to leave behind a slightly less ruined planet for our next generation. The time to build our awareness and acceptance of this pressing issue, and then act upon it, is now!

The above article was originally published in SAARC Biz Annual Issue of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry

This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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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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