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Post-COVID World: “We Need To Go Beyond Borders To Really Heal Nature”

Healing Beyond Borders

This blog is about the current pandemic  and what humans shall learn from it. We have encountered in our ongoing lockdown lives such news as ‘this is the purest air we are breathing right now’, ‘our Earth is healing’, and ‘animals are catching up with human-acquired spaces to those that belong to these creatures as well. This post is about the Earth healing from anthropogenic activities, other species enjoying the absence of humans, and above all, a utopia that all humans shall work towards!

Utopian Biodiversity

This blog is a little utopian in nature. By utopian biodiversity, I mean all species living in harmony, respecting Mother Earth, and giving more than what humans take from it, respecting boundaries and limits to production in such amounts as are necessary for us to be able to satisfy our needs and dreams whilst living a happy and healthy lives with our family, friends and the people around us. Have you ever wondered why we have lost the chirping of birds, their melodious sound? You might have got up while listening to such sounds in the mornings of your childhood!

This corona crisis, where our busy lives have stopped for a while, forces us to think why we are running, whom we are running for, why we can’t take a moment, take a pause in life, and just admire the beauty of nature, animals, seas, aquatic life and, most importantly, our relationships with our fellow beings. Sometimes, I wonder why we carry so many expectations. What is success? What are our needs? There will be no future for what most of us are working for. Thus, defining success, in simple terms, is being happy, happy with what you do and being who you are.

Creation And Destruction 

We humans have the power to think and create, but ironically, we tend to destroy whatever we lay our hands on – forests, wildlife, aquatic life and what not. We are destroyers rather than creators. We know this pandemic disease spreads across borders; did it require any visa? I guess not! It has traveled across seas and is killing thousands to the point where we can’t find enough land for burials. It’s vital for us to reflect on those millions of animals killed in the Australian fire, Amazon fire. And we lost the lungs of our Mother Earth.

If this lockdown wasn’t in your interest, you wouldn’t go for it. There is no Planet B and the colonisation of Mars won’t help us if we can’t take care of what we already have. Here, we shall keep in mind future generational justice. The only religion we need to follow is being more human in nature i.e. humanity. We need to balance this shared world and learn from mistakes we have been doing so far. We have the power of creation as well as of destruction, something which other species don’t have.

Hunger And Poverty 

We are seeing the poor getting food; the daily wagers, who dig the well every day to satisfy their hunger, are getting food from our contributions, which is not enough. But yes, together we can do more. This disease is not killing as many people as it was earlier. More people have died due to road accidents, murders, rapes and other causes. We must plan according to SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). If we just produce as much as is required to eat, it shall satisfy our needs. This way we accomplish our first SDG.

Another answer could be Gandhi’s idea of the oceanic circle that incorporates ideas of power flowing from below and a decentralised economy, where agricultural activities would be at the center of humanity’s concern, and we grow only sufficiently enough to earn our bread and butter.

Give a man food to eat, and he will be able to live for a few days. But teaching him some skills will make him productive. If we only act according to our needs, then we can reduce the gap between rich and poor.

First Earth Summit

The Rio Declaration of 1992 gave the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and defined the roles of developed, developing and underdeveloped nations. Today, the concept that must be realised is that there are no differentiated responsibilities, but these responsibilities are common in nature. All countries must act now. The countdown has already begun.

However, there’s a technological difference in “sharing is caring”. How will lives be saved in this quarantine? Well, the answer is to take extreme steps and measures, to change and live our lives and fight for survival.

From Past to Future

If we ask our grandparents and parents what is that one thing in life that they  would do if they  were sent back to the past, the answer to this would be, “We will live more, rather than accumulating more wealth. We would work on making our relations with people better, admire the beauty of nature, and make this world a better place to live in.”

Nature Is In Communication With Us

Pure air to breathe, clear blue skies, the chirping of birds, the ozone layer healing itself, turtles laying eggs on beaches in absence of humans, and the global air current flowing back to normal and the reducing air pollution are a few of the many good things that are happening. Although, no quarantine, no immune system, and no vaccine can reverse the effects of climate change.

Our homes will be safe in the future, and our species will live. But can we promise the same to those who can’t speak for themselves? We only have a few years left. Was Thanos, the Avengers Endgame character, right? Well, certainly not. A lot of people who vanished or died in his fictional world weren’t guilty, but what if people vanish for real?

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs but not enough to satisfy every man’s greed.”Mahatma Gandhi

We don’t need a luxurious life; we need a more humane life. Healing beyond borders is healing of nature.

About the author: Hitesh is pursuing MA Political Science from DU, SOL.

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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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