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The Politics Of Climate Crisis: Why We Need Urgent Action This World Environment Day

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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.

Every year on June 5, we celebrate World Environment Day to spread awareness and take action for the protection of environment. People from all walks of life are encouraged to participate in this response to protect our planet. The World Environment Day was first recognised in 1972 by the United Nations at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (June 5-16, 1972) that resulted from a discussion on the integration of human interaction and the environment.

However, it is two years later, on June 5, that the first Word Environment Day celebrated. The UN adopted the theme ‘Only One Earth’ and since then, the date has officially become the day of a global celebration. In 1987, the idea of different activities taking turns in various nations was adapted.

Today, the world has been grappling with Covid-19 for more than one year, and its devastating impact is quite shocking not only for the developing countries but also the so-called developed nation. Of course, countries whose leaders are not responding scientifically to the pandemic are facing the biggest blow. Why I am mentioning the pandemic here while talking about the environment is because we have globally failed to timely respond to the environment’s call. Now, for quite some time, we have been in an emergency situation as far as the environment is concerned.

The real devastations due to climate change are no more far from reality. There are many signs, but no sign of action by our national or global leaders. Representational image.

 

The environmental clock has been ticking towards a climate crisis. Yes, keeping our surroundings green and planting trees are great for our environment, but the action required is far more than our individual efforts. Citizen are not being informed by our leaders, policymakers, media or corporations. Forget about what our schools are teaching us about the greenhouse gases causing an impact on the climate. But who is responsible for this increase in the carbon gases? What immediate and long-terms steps should be taken by our leaders?

The impact of the climate crisis is visible and there has been plenty of scientific research all over world. Even, I can share my personal observation of how the climate crisis is impacting us, or me, more particularly. I am currently based in New Delhi and my roots are in Bihar.

We know what happens in Delhi every winter; how the level of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) increases in its air, causing severe health problems for the elderly and children. Even the youth and healthy population of the city find it difficult to breathe. But what has been done so far? No impactful or visible action has been taken by the State. I haven’t seen or read about it in the news.

Today, many of us in Delhi are coming together to join in the customary celebration of the World Environment Day, but where is our action to tackle with the city’s air pollution? There has been no decrease in the number of vehicles on roads — if anything, road vehicles are only increasing day by day. No plans to encourage pedestrians or making the city cycle-friendly have been charted or implemented so far.

My next point is about two observations I have made from my native village in Bihar. First is its increasingly erratic rains, which are affecting the region’s crop cycle, which in turn has impacted the quantity and quality of the crops. Secondly, for some years, the frequency of floods as well its catchment area has increased in North Bihar, where almost every year, people are losing their crops, cattle and even their own lives. The impact of these annual floods has not entered new areas, where people were not equipped to face it. In some cases, the passing on of local knowledge from to the new generation has been missing.

The real devastations due to climate change are no more far from reality. There are many signs, but no sign of action by our national or global leaders. All of us know what is happening regarding the Paris Climate Agreement, which was earlier agreed upon in 2015, but no concrete action has been take, even after six years of its conception.

The PM2.5 level increases in Delhi every winter, causing severe health problems for the elderly and children. Even the youth finds it difficult to breathe. But what has been done so far?

One thing is crisp and clear: all countries enjoying global power prefer status quo and that too in partnership with crony capitalists. Because climate interventions require a shift in investment and policies, one thing is clear: growth will not give justice to all. Here, I am talking about all kinds of justice — social, economic as well as political justice. Brazilian economist Celso Furtado said, “A higher rate of growth, far from reducing underdevelopment, tends to worsen it, in the sense of increasing social inequalities.”

We have seen in 2009-2010 the phenomenal growth of the Indian GDP to over 10%, as the market economist explained. But what was the end result? And I am more interested in the cost at which that kind of growth was achieved and who bore this cost. Who lost the most in the process? What is happening in central India, where the indigenous population lives? Weren’t they happy living with the natural resources at hand? But what did our development come and do to them?

I don’t have any complains with people who are celebrating World Environment Day in their own way. It depends on each one of us, how we have trained or equipped ourselves to look at issues such as the environment. But more difficulties come our way when our government as well as other multilateral body such as the UN do not act like they are here to solve or resolve the persisting issue.

Here, we as individual must take charge for our climate to protest on an immediate basis, not only in the form of sloganeering, but also to take a pledge to take action and put pressure on our respective governments and policymakers to take this issue seriously.

Note: The article was originally published 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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