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In An Era Of Climate Change, All Businesses Must Embrace Sustainability

Greta Thunberg tells Davos that we have less than eight years to save the planet. Even at one degree rise in global temperatures, people are dying from the impacts of climate change, think about 2+ degree scenario. This must raise serious alarms and act, we must! Act to change behaviors, lifestyles, use of energy, resources, ways of producing food and urbanizing our lives. And in the pursuit of this also bring millions out of poverty, provide food, healthcare, sanitation and housing to all and protect ecological biodiversity, which supports the planetary systems. Business has a big role to play and when we talk about Sustainability for businesses, we must realize that it has also become a need to not about just saving the planet but saving themselves in pursuit to make the planet a better place to live.

At the COP21 in Paris, the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were agreed by its respective parties and members across the globe. They set the targets for our world to respond to climate change, hunger, poverty, development, livelihoods, planetary species etc. With timelines and targets, both ‘The Global Goals’ and ‘The Paris Agreement’ have a contribution and a role in demanding from every one of us in the 21st Century. Businesses now could not afford to turn a blind eye on them.

At Mahindra Group, we have a concrete definition on Sustainability, which brings clarity and gives us a direction: “Building enduring businesses by rejuvenating environment and enabling stakeholders to rise.”

This Sustainability definition, along with the framework, is also helping us to draw connections and define our role in the mammoth task of achieving 169 targets of 17 SDGs.

Under the specific focus area of rejuvenating the environment in our framework, we have set an objective to become a Carbon Neutrality Group by 2040. When 20 Mahindra group companies became signatories to the science-based targets initiative, we set a clear pathway for reducing the emissions in line with the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C pre-industrial levels, and now, as part of the step up challenge, we have committed to set a trajectory which aligns with IPCC ambition for the world to become net-zero by 2050.

All these commitments will help companies on their path towards becoming carbon neutral. Out of 20 Mahindra Group companies, 11 have already got their targets approved, and they intend to achieve these targets by increasing energy efficiency and use more renewable energy as their power source. Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. was also the first Indian company to announce its internal Carbon Price of $10/per carbon emitted, which will help it work towards the carbon neutrality path.

Parallel to the strong commitments to make business and its operations green, the Group has ventured into businesses, which are banking on the opportunities to mitigate as well as adapt to the effects of climate change. With India’s largest portfolio of electric vehicles, Mahindra Electric is changing the dynamics of mobility and helping to decarbonize the use phase. As a pioneer developer of green homes in India, Mahindra Lifespaces is driven by the mission of Sustainable Urbanization. Our renewable energy company by the name Mahindra Susten has commissioned projects over 2GW of solar power, distributed in many parts of India and now global. As one of the top Information technology company, Tech Mahindra has built an array of services to reduce the carbon footprint for its clients.

Using climate change as a context to encourage innovation and leveraging that across the business is an excellent place to begin. The benefits of innovation will be multifold and will become a part of the organization’s DNA. This will further result in businesses like the ones mentioned above. The work done across the group mapped out against the roadmaps, which were set to take on the carbon neutrality challenge.

We are at a critical juncture in the 21st century, where our actions today are trying to play a balance between correcting the mistakes made in our past and setting a new narrative for our future generations to come. As the world undergoes this transition, we will have to create systems which are far more resilient and sustainable. The onus will be upon us as ‘businesses of the past’ and ‘the new ones’ to create such systems.

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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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