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Delhi Youth Unite to Protect the Environment

On the 10th and 11th of June, 2017, the Youth4Environment fellowship officially launched with a two day training session.

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The Fellows with the team

This is the first program of its kind, tapping into the under-utilised resource that is the RWA network and empowering young people to create change on a local level. The Fellows come from all across Delhi, representing different neighbourhoods, age groups, and walks of life. The one thing they all share is a passion for the environment, and a belief that they can make a difference.

 

 

 

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A few of the Fellows at the training

With the support of all of the organisations involved, these Fellows are working to create campaigns on environmental issues that matter to them, no affect their local community directly. Their campaigns will address a range of subjects including solar power, waste segregation and green mobility, and engage with volunteers from the community to create long lasting, sustainable change.

 

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Brainstorming campaign ideas

Through inter-generational collaboration and community involvement, the Fellows hope to address urgent issues facing not only their neighbourhoods but also the planet as a whole. As Sahej, a Youth4Environment Fellow, puts it, “environmental issues are important because it’s our own home and our own rivers that we are polluting. We are writing our own obituaries.” But the Fellows are determined to change this. “Everyone has a part to play and a responsibility towards the environment. I am playing my part,” Aryan, another of the fellows, said.

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A guest speaker addressing the Fellows

Hosted at the YWCA in Connaught Place, the two training days were a chance for the newly inducted Fellows and members of the involved RWAs to meet each other, and pick up some of the vital skills that they will need to run successful environmental campaigns. A number of expert panelists addressed the Fellows, including Sunil Dahiya, Greenpeace India Campaigner; Rajiv Dinesh, Co- Founder and CEO of Sunfund Renewable; YK Chawla, Energy Advisor, Government of India and Sarika Panda Bhatt, Manager, World Resources Institute. The Fellows left even more invigorated and excited about the months ahead, and many have already started work, hosting meetings and events within their communities.

Shashi Issar, a Youth4Environment Fellow from Ashok Vihar, recently arranged for Greenpeace India’s Solar Bus initiative to visit his community and educate people about solar energy. This bus also visited Jorbagh, where Fellow Manya Berri is working to educate her community about the benefits of solar energy. Another Fellow, Mitali Chakraborty, held a plantation drive which planted 50 trees in an effort to green up his South Delhi neighbourhood. And this is just the very beginning. It will no doubt be inspiring to see what these otherwise ordinary citizens can achieve over the next few months.

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The solar bus

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Inside the solar bus

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Youth4Environment Fellowship Launch

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Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 11.37.37 am.pngOn World Environment Day this year we are all being encouraged to go outside and reconnect with nature. Sadly, air pollution in Delhi is so chronic that spending time outside could seriously damage your health. Each year 30,000 people die from air pollution related diseases.

“Citizens and active youth have decided join hands and  take action against Delhi’s polluted air – it’s time to make a difference. This is a unique opportunity for the youth to be leaders in their communities and take onus for a cleaner environment and take ACTION to stop further damage by thinking of innovative community level solutions” added Sukhmani from Haiyya while inaugurating the Youth4Environment Fellowship Program at Delhi Clean Air Forum’s meetup on June 5th.

On the 10th and 11th of June The Youth4Environment Fellowship Program, will be launched through a two-day training at the YWCA in Connaught Place, New Delhi.

The training will focus on campaigning skills and issue expertise and will include various themes such as:

  • Delhi’s Air Condition
  • Building grassroots power through organizing & campaigning
  • Public Narrative, Possible solutions at the community level
  • Making a Campaign Plans to take action in the community
  • Building Relationships with the community
  • Building Teams through a sustainable ‘Snowflake’ Model wherein you identify and enable other team members  

The Youth4Environment Fellowship Program  has been created by URJA (United Residents Joint Action) the apex body of RWA’s, Haiyya (a non-profit campaigning Organization) and Help Delhi Breathe (a citizen coalition group).

Youth4Environment Fellowship Program ignites ordinary citizen action through neighborhood level environment campaigns. It is the first collaboration between youth leaders and their local RWA’s, bridging the generational gap often found at local community level and mobilizing all to adopt local climate solutions.

These campaigns are the first opportunity for ordinary citizens to make a difference through:

  • Intergenerational collaboration
  • Utilizing local levels of governance
  • Inspiring and supporting youth advocates to lead on community leadership

We hope to see a greater participation and synergy between the RWA executives and the youth in their respective neighbourhoods/communities​. All your economic growth and wealth would be useless without good health which is directly correlated to your environment.” Ashutosh Dikshit, CEO, URJA.

The Youth4Environment Fellowship is a 4-month program through which 20 Fellows (young leaders) will be selected to run their individual campaigns on various issues including solar power, mobility or waste segregation in New Delhi. The Fellowship programme aims equip the fellows  to facilitate on ground campaigns with local level solutions to combat environmental concerns to achieve a larger vision of a cleaner and greener Delhi.

For more information please contact

Sukhmani Grover (Senior Program Manager, Haiyya)

+91 9871446720

Sukhmani@haiyya.in

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Blogger Series #9: Health Over Stigma

Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.

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Once at a party when I was in school me and my friends were playing a drinking game ‘never have I ever’. One of the guys said ‘Never have I ever masturbated’ he sneered it at the girls. Every single dude sitting there chugged a shot and so did I because as a normal 17 year old I of course have and quite enjoyed masturbating. To my shock my other girlfriends just sat there and stared at each other. I felt betrayed & bemused. I could not fathom the fact that none of them had masturbated before or maybe that none of them would admit to doing so in public. To be honest it pissed me off because I felt like I was being ostracised and singled out as overly sexual – I gaffed “none of you have ever touched yourself before?”. I was met with a staunch & collective ‘nope”.  
I think that experience was important because I knew that women have desires as everyone else. I never questioned if I was ‘normal’ or not. However that day taught me that my school friends wouldn’t judge me nonetheless they would not be open to expressing sexual desires the way I was. I had to find a community of women who were like me & through Health Over Stigma I finally have.

Blogger Series #8: Health Over Stigma

Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.

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When parents have two apartments in Delhi, one’s our residence and the other one is vacant. My residence is never empty, so I decided to take my boyfriend to the other apartment for some privacy. Better than going to some shady hotel right? Wrong. After a couple of visits the RWA caught us, threatened to inform my parents and call the police. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong, after all it was my house and the two of us weren’t bothering anybody. How is it anyone’s business to snoop and find out what goes behind four walls? But the society doesn’t share the same opinion as me. After all two people holding hands are more dangerous than actual criminals right?

Blogger Series #7: Health Over Stigma

Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.

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“I visited a gynaec when my period was late even though I’d been careful and used protection. I used a pregnancy test which was negative but I was scared and paranoid and I just wanted to double check. I scheduled an appointment randomly at a clinic nearby as I didn’t have any recommendations from anyone. Unfortunately for me it was an elderly doctor who was extremely rude, condescending and intrusive. She started asking me personal questions such as whether I was married, if not, how long have I been with my boyfriend, how many times we’ve had sex unprotected (he’s the only one I’ve slept with in my whole life and the same with him), whether my parents know. I was visibly squirming as I asked her why she was asking me all this. She ignored me, and went on to tell me that if I have sex I should be prepared to get pregnant and get STDs (even though I’m monogamous and so is he) and that not having sex is the only ‘solution’ to avoiding doubt. She started asking me when I plan to marry him and whether my parents should be told about this. I still didn’t get an answer as to why I hadn’t got my period on top of being so stressed. When I asked her to do her job and tell me what the reason for my delayed period could be OTHER than possible pregnancy she said she could not help me further.

It was the most unpleasant experience I’ve had with a doctor my whole life. I went for a second opinion to another doctor at a different hospital who was much younger, but faced the same. She was more interested in the fact that I’m not married and sexually active than in prescribing me the meds necessary for inducing my period, since it was established that I wasn’t pregnant. I finally lost my temper and contacted the hospital feedback team and informed them the doctor had no business behaving this way to a patient who needs care, and that she had better do her job and not judge. After a lot of apologies from their marketing team, I finally met a gynaec whom it was a pleasure interacting with. She allayed my fears and concerns and prescribed a pill to me that would regulate my period and act as protection in addition to condoms. I think doctors need to realize it’s not their place to bring in their personal biases on to the table when interacting with us. Being sexually active outside of marriage is not a crime and it’s high time this mentality was done away with.”

 

Blogger Series #6: Health Over Stigma

Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.

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This happened a year back. My friend was seeing this guy who was a pilot and was 23. It got physical quite soon. They would have sex every weekend at the guy’s place because he lived alone. One day, as it happened, she got pregnant and was super nervous. She called me up and we decided to go to the gynae. This particular one happened to be very reputed and was in Gurgaon far from the place where she herself lived (in Delhi). She didn’t wanna come across anyone she knew. When we told him what we wanted, he was totally taken aback. He asked our age proof so we gave him our IDs. I didn’t and still don’t understand why he refused to treat her even though she was an adult (19 in fact). He just gave another Doctor’s number and gave a stupid excuse that he already has a lot of appointments. It wasn’t true because we asked his assistant before hand if he could conduct a suction abortion and she said that he was free.  It appals me how someone would deny us treatment just because of their own bias. It’s their duty which they need to fulfil, and our right to demand help if so we seek.

 

Blogger Series #5: Health Over Stigma

Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.

As this story shows us we have internalized the stigma that it is all around us, it’s time we recognize it & call it out!

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One day, I was out at a chemist and there were so many people buying medicines so I decided to wait aside for a minute and let the hustle and bustle reduce. What I saw next was something I never encountered before. Two different women. One bought a few medicines and a cough syrup (I think). The chemist stacked everything and put in a transparent polythene. The next woman buys a packet of sanitary napkins and she pays for it, grabs the packet and is about to leave when the shopkeeper stops her. He bends down to find something below the counter, takes out a black polythene and asks her to put the packet of sanitary napkins in the black bag. Why!? The women was confident/comfortable enough to carry “pads” without having the need to cover it like its a taboo. But one interruption by a man (read society) just forces her confidence to drop to zero. Why is a there a need to hide things that shouldn’t be a big deal to humans? Why do women have to lower down their voice before talking about periods or asking for pads in a chemist shop? We’ve done nothing wrong. This isn’t a punishment. This is natural and if we’re ready to accepted it, why won’t others? I had read these kinds of incidents before but watching it with my own eyes made me question (backward) society little more than usual.