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We Need To Bring Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh To The Centre Of The Climate Change Discussion Beyond Political Hue And Cry

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Climate change is one of the key issues discussed globally today, the threat of which is increasing day by day. A study has claimed that the speed of the melting of glaciers has doubled already. According to the journal Science Advances, between 1975 and 2000, these glaciers were melting by 10 inches per year, but from 2000 to 2016, they were melting by 20 inches per year. This has resulted in the loss of about eight billion tonnes of water.

Amidst all this, it is also necessary to mention the glaciers of the Himalayan range. In the Himalayan range, specifically in India, the Himalayan region is mainly expanded among Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Assam; in 11 states in total. Based on the area, Jammu and Kashmir is at the top with 2,22,236 square kilometres.

Melting Glaciers of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

Himalayan glaciers melting
Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast now as they were before the turn of the century.

For a long time, Jammu and Kashmir has been in the news for political reasons rather than for its God-gifted natural beauty or its tourist destinations. This has been the reason why the struggles of the residents, habitat and climate change impact on them are not visible. More than 1,200 glaciers of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh region are melting fast. From 2000 to 2012, 70 gigatonne glacier mass has melted.

Apart from the environment, it is affecting the economy, politics, society and future conditions. The Himalayan glaciers that fill Asia’s major rivers with water are melting quickly in the world. But there have been different assumptions about this pace. In recent research, with the help of large data and authentic evidence, the melting rate of Himalayan glaciers has been described as serious. It is now clear that this terminology has been used only when it was found in the study that glaciers are not only melting at an unprecedented speed, but the new mass is not being formed in that proportion.

The report published in a journal called Scientific Reports published on Nature’s website said that the researchers covered all the glaciers in the LOC and LAC region, apart from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Their total number has been stated to be over 1,200, and for the first time, satellite data has also been used to understand the changes in the texture, mass and thickness of all these glaciers.

In this report, researchers say that the melting of glaciers occurs due to the increase in temperature and decrease in snowfall, and these changes in temperature and snowfall lead to the emission of greenhouse gases from rapid industrialisation and worldwide fossil fuels. It is worth noting that the process of industrialisation is slow in the Himalayan region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, even though these worrisome changes are taking place. It is because this region is dealing with the phenomenon of global climate change.

The situation is so bad that if a report published in the Water Policy Journal is to be believed, areas of the Hindukush belt in the Himalayan region are suffering from the water crisis which has been the source of many rivers. And by 2050, the difference between demand and supply of water can be doubled.

Increasing Social Divide

The melting of glaciers will not only affect our environment, habitat and livelihood because any environmental phenomenon also has its economic, social and political consequences. History is witness that whenever there is a competition for supremacy and occupation of resources, only the oppressed, weak and deprived sections of the society fall into it.

The most evident example is of poor African countries before us. The land of farming here, kilometre after kilometre, has now been transformed into dry sand. Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Eritrea, etc. are those countries that are in severe crisis due to starvation caused by climate change. Food is also hardly available for people to eat here during the day.

Therefore, before this situation of class struggle can come before us, we will have to bring Jammu and Kashmir, called the paradise of the earth, and Ladakh, to the centre of the climate change discussion beyond political hue and cry.

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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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