This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shivani Chhabra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Have We Ruined The Earth So Much That We’re Looking For Other Planets To Live In?

Mother Earth.”

We have been using these two words together since I remember. But it was only recently that I realized the meaning and the emotions associated with it. We call her mother because just like a mother, she nourishes us, provides us with the healthiest produce of food like our own mother breastfeeds us.

Our mothers keep us in their womb, we breathe through her and live in her for nine months. Isn’t that something? Just how miraculous that is, mother earth’s contribution is, for her children. It is a sacred oath to humanity, to thrive is no less than a sacrifice mothers make for her children. It has promised us a supply of food and oxygen until we breath our last and a warm place to rest, which is her arms after we die.

Isn’t that enough? Has she not done enough for us?

Now you must be wondering why I’m suddenly so emotional. For that, here’s a flashback for how I ended up writing this piece.

I left my job as a digital marketer in January. I was sure I would soon get a new job and be back to work in no time. But, our beautiful planet had different plans for me, it presented me with the pandemic. It gave me a pretty valuable lesson to not take anything for granted because we cannot predict what tomorrow has in store for us.

Most of these days, I lie on my bed, ignoring the world outside and diving into the digital world, scrolling through Instagram. “The world at your fingertips,” somebody predicted it rightly, I have the whole world navigating through this small screen in front of me.

But today, the thing that stopped me from scrolling ahead (which rarely happens, trust me) was a post with the heading– “Indian Scientists Make Space Bricks With Urea For Buildings On Moon.” A proud moment right? Science has advanced so much that we can now build houses on the moon. This is coming from a species which took its first step into outer space under half a century ago. The way science has progressed in the last three centuries has given us more than we could have imagined.

Would you also like to move to wear a suit on your own planet like this astronaut? Although, with the current pandemic mask situation we are halfway there.

I couldn’t stop but ponder over all the things that science and technology have given us – It lit up our homes, made travel so easy, fast, convenient, it made our life so easy and luxurious. It gave us fast cars, made countries feel secure, gave us fast fashion, the internet (I am using it right now), social sites, machine, vaccines, medication, and whatnot.

But, the line in the article that caught my eyes was this: “With Earth’s resources dwindling rapidly, scientists have only intensified their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets.” After reading that, the thoughts that clouded my mind weren’t that pleasant.

Great ideas in the hand of stupid minds will work as weapons, and that’s what I managed to find over my research. Over the past few centuries, we also had the Ebola virus, two world-shaking world wars, nuclear weapons destroying the whole damn cities, terrorist attacks (made easy with high tech weapons), industrialization because of which the net forest loss in 2010–2020 was 7 million hectares per year (report by Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020).

To satisfy our hunger we have increased animal agriculture ( a technical term for breeding and grazing animals for meat & eggs ) to a level that now it’s generating 51% of greenhouse gas emissions and the irony is we still have most precious Climate Changes talk in an airconditioned hall where our prestigious guests eat the most refined version of ‘Wague’ because nothing but the best for them.

If that’s not alarming enough, then please know that scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird, and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the natural or background rate. It is more significant than anything the world has experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs almost 65 million years ago.

The industrialization has been the core cause for increasing the Earth’s temperature since early 1900. As per the article published in the World Wildlife Organization, even if we significantly curb emissions in the coming decades, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt before the year 2100. When it comes to sea ice, 95% of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic is already gone.

As per Nat Geo Article, If carbon emissions go unchecked, the average global temperature could rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. That could doom more than three-quarters of Antarctica’s emperor

As per Nat Geo Article, If carbon emissions go unchecked, the average global temperature could rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. That could doom more than three-quarters of Antarctica’s emperor

I may be way out of my specialization here to comment but industrialization should have been used to make our lives easy & cut down on world hunger. As per a report by UN in 2018, 821 million people now hungry and over 150 million children stunted. Today we are most advanced than we have ever been. What is the point of the advancement if it’s making the condition of our planet worse and keeping people hungry?

The vulture and the little girl, also known as “The Struggling Girl”, is a famous photograph by Kevin Carter which first appeared in The New York Times on 26 March 1993.

The scientists know that our planet is on the verge of becoming uninhabitable, and the current pandemic is the most real example that our last 3 generations have ever seen. We have been violating the rules that mother nature has set for us and now when it all has been done with, we are leaving it all behind, looking for a new place to call our home.

Do you think abandoning your mother in the time of crisis is right? You tell me.

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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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