Pratima Gurung is an educational activist primarily based in Nepal, who has advocated for an intersectional rights-based strategy throughout international and native platforms, since 2006. Her work is centred on indigenous individuals, by guaranteeing accessibility to elementary rights and security. Critically, she has labored on making catastrophe reduction extra accessible and elevating consciousness in regards to the impacts of local weather change inside grassroots communities.
“It was COP21 and I used to be, for the primary time, chosen to attend as a member of the Asia Indigenous Individuals’s Pact. I feel, in context of the earthquake, this expertise actually united us within the motion and introduced in many various experiences to catastrophe reduction and local weather conversations. So, incapacity rights was a brand new rising agenda throughout the indigenous individuals’s motion, however the experiences of indigenous individuals with disabilities in that area had been actually new.“
Pratima can also be a school member instructing at Padmakanya School, beneath Tribhuvan College and a leading member of a number of nationwide and international activist networks, representing completely different constituencies on the UN. Via initiating cross-movement collaborations, she has been instrumental in amplifying the a number of and intersecting marginalised voices throughout the environmental justice discourse and motion framework.
FII in dialog with the educational activist Pratima Gurung on intersectionality and rights of indigenous ladies with disabilities.
FII: You have got expertise working at high-level worldwide coverage platforms such because the Local weather Convention of Events. What’s your expertise been?
Pratima: We had an earthquake in 2015 in Nepal, which was fairly sudden and stunning. This was a really completely different and new expertise for our technology, particularly for individuals with disabilities and marginalised teams like ladies, indigenous peoples and others, as a result of this catastrophe had such distinctive impacts on us. Many, together with indigenous ladies with disabilities, had been kicked out by their householders and compelled to stay in open areas. This usually led to younger indigenous ladies being uncovered to oblique and direct types of violence, abuse and harassment, together with rape. For as much as 9 months, they had been pressured to stay in these identical areas on open grounds resulting in nice danger to security.
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It was COP21 and I used to be, for the primary time, chosen to attend as a member of the Asia Indigenous Individuals’s Pact. I feel, within the context of the earthquake, this expertise actually united us within the motion and introduced in many various experiences to catastrophe reduction and local weather conversations. So, incapacity rights was a brand new rising agenda throughout the indigenous individuals’s motion, however the experiences of indigenous individuals with disabilities in that area had been actually new.
I had the crucial alternative to share our collective tales from lived experiences and negotiate with member states on the COP. Throughout the 2015 earthquake catastrophe reduction programmes, everybody was giving us meals. However we didn’t require meals. Individuals didn’t have crutches, individuals didn’t have wheelchairs, or different fundamental, main wants.
Though we acquired to be part of the UNFCCC’s processes, the views of indigenous peoples and folks with disabilities usually didn’t matter. It was extra about negotiations between the wealthy nations and the poor nations. Some states had been open whereas others had been reluctant. We focussed on our negotiations by collective campaigns, silent protest, media press, concerned in negotiations to incorporate indigenous individuals, individuals with disabilities, and girls within the Paris (Local weather) Settlement and helped construct that preliminary basis throughout the local weather change area. At the moment, I used to be a part of the indigenous individuals constituency and was the one particular person with disabilities in that area, which made me realise the significance of intersectional strategy.
“We’re presently working with communities within the mountainous areas of Nepal as a result of this space of the Himalayas is liable to glacier melting, which is a crucial reason for avalanches. Even smaller ones are tough and we aren’t ready for the disasters that will occur as these ecosystems degrade additional.“
This led us to do our grassroots work again house, after COP21. We began having conversations in regards to the influence of local weather change, however most individuals weren’t conscious of local weather change, regardless that they had been probably the most affected. Catastrophe and local weather change are interlinked however the strategy was siloed
FII: What’s your work like now, on the native and grassroots stage?
Pratima: We’re presently working with communities within the mountainous areas of Nepal as a result of this space of the Himalayas is liable to glacier melting, which is a crucial reason for avalanches. Even smaller ones are tough and we aren’t ready for the disasters that will occur as these ecosystems degrade additional. And individuals with disabilities, indigenous peoples residing in excessive Himalayas and together with ladies are extra adversely impacted by it.
There’s a lack of understanding on inclusive response, mitigation, adaptation at group stage and the local weather change assets and funds aren’t reaching these teams. So we’re working to sensitise and pay attention to incapacity inclusive local weather actions with intersectional lens among the many group which is main intervention and this intervention must be adopted by different CSOs, governments, multilateral organisations and improvement companions engaged on environmental justice initiatives in any respect ranges. In 2023, we try to work in the direction of reaching out to the communities in these areas, which might culminate in a landmark report for advocay.
Moreover, right here, our interventions are sometimes long-term and really slowly progressive. It’s tough to plan issues over the course of time and therefore much more tough to achieve funding. If I’m an activist going to a group the place persons are dying of meals, I’m not going to start out speaking to them about local weather change—this doesn’t make sense. We’re from the worldwide south and the fact could be very completely different inside marginalised communities. I’ll first have to make sure accessibility of meals, the elemental proper to well being—after which advocate for elevating consciousness on the impacts of local weather change on this group. This takes lots of effort and time.
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We additionally face challenges with the native authorities. We conduct sensitisation workshops with one set of presidency officers and staff, however they get transferred so usually that we don’t have a gaggle of individuals we are able to reliably work with. These are the challenges we face. Total, our advocacy works from the grassroots and native ranges, then to the nationwide and worldwide ranges.
FII: May you inform us somewhat about your work as an educational activist?
Pratima: I function advisory members
One of many research by the college highlighted the truth that individuals with disabilities are lacking from Nationally Decided Contributions (NDC: a rustic’s local weather motion plan for mitigation and adaptation). Therefore, we have to have efficient participation within the UN and its constituencies. But, we wouldn’t have a recognised particular person with disabilities constituency or caucus. We try to do that disability-inclusive intervention from the coverage perspective. On the identical time, we’re additionally working from the educational perspective by making an attempt to assemble analysis and knowledge from the grassroots. The impacts of local weather change on indigenous individuals, individuals with disabilities, ladies, and folks from different marginalised teams are gauged by our analysis on-ground.
“Having labored on this motion for over 20 years, we’ve got realised the crucial want for an intersectional lens, as a result of in any other case the motion turns into too linear. It is a lacking discourse. As an educational, I additionally realised that activism is vital to make sure that educational analysis will get translated into coverage with extra effectivity and velocity.”
Having labored on this motion for over 20 years, we’ve got realised the crucial want for an intersectional lens, as a result of in any other case, the motion turns into too linear. It is a lacking discourse. As an educational, I additionally realised that activism is vital to make sure that educational analysis will get translated into coverage with extra effectivity and velocity. In any other case, coverage adjustments primarily based on analysis take years and years to occur after the analysis has truly been performed.
FII: In relation to mitigation and adaptation, how would efficient environmental justice manifest for indigenous ladies with disabilities?
Pratima: We all know that adaptation and mitigation are methods on the international stage. These are additionally issues that indigenous expertise and do day-after-day. Nevertheless, this language is just too technical they usually aren’t conscious of this type of language—they’re coping and dealing in their very own methods of their day-to-day lives, with their shared values and philosophy. Mitigation and adaptation haven’t been very constructive at our native advocacy stage.
“This CSWs title was vital and important to the remainder of the world. Nevertheless, for indigenous ladies with disabilities, digital world just isn’t our area. It isn’t a daily phenomenon for us. Our indigenous values and rules are derived from one technology to the opposite, within the type of tales, within the type of music, within the type of folklore—that is our area. Once we speak in regards to the digital area, it comes with eurocentric values and developed nations’ narratives.“
We’re capable of have extra discussions on the grassroots stage when discussing the influence of local weather change. That is what immediately impacts them. We’re being resilient however the ‘being of resilient’ has not been a course of of dialogue. Acceptance and internalisation is required.
FII: Within the context of the latest CSW—CSW67—which was in regards to the intersections of gender and know-how, how are the experiences of indigenous ladies with disabilities situated in this type of discourse?
Pratima: This CSWs title was vital and important to the remainder of the world. Nevertheless, for indigenous ladies with disabilities, digital world just isn’t our area. It isn’t a daily phenomenon for us. Our indigenous values and rules are derived from one technology to the opposite, within the type of tales, within the type of music, within the type of folklore, oral historical past—that is our area that has been transferred from one technology to the opposite. Once we speak in regards to the digital area, it has turn out to be a required want and we aren’t aloof from it, however it comes with eurocentric values and developed nations’ narratives. For indigenous individuals, that is actually a type of neo-colonisation—completely different types of colonisation. This doesn’t imply that we completely keep away from know-how: sure, at this time, many indigenous individuals’s organisations have a smartphone of their arms, as a result of they’re sure to make use of their smartphones.
This doesn’t imply that issues are enhancing. Accessibility and affordability are tough, extra so on account of structural boundaries and particularly for indigenous ladies with disabilities. There may be additionally a lack of understanding and acceptance of such know-how. So, know-how must be simple, accessible, inexpensive, acceptable inside cultural context and have entry in all method.
FII: State and non-state company actors proceed to take advantage of nature with out contemplating indigenous views—actions which are sometimes rooted in casteism, classism, capitalism and neocolonialism. What’s the state of affairs pertaining to this side of environmental coverage in Nepal?
Pratima: This is identical all over the place as a result of indigenous individuals’s values and programs are associated to the land territories and pure assets: water, forest, land—these are the first issues which might be related to indigenous individuals’s lives, knowledge and data. Every thing for us comes from these main issues. That is our id.
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Most indigenous individuals’s land territories and pure assets are captured by state and non-state actors within the title of various actions—within the title of improvement, within the title of constructing large buildings, within the title of constructing hydropower services. Indigenous individuals have been dwelling right here for tons of of years, however the authorities doesn’t take a rights-based strategy. The federal government doesn’t recognise the dignified life that indigenous individuals have to have, even if indigenous individuals contribute to 80% of the world’s biodiversity.
“Free Prior and Knowledgeable Consent, the appropriate to self-determination and the appropriate to self-dignity—that is crucial for human rights and should be revered. When these rights aren’t upheld, indigenous individuals, together with individuals with disabilities, are dropping their lives, being killed, and being murdered, in several types—and their id is in risk. Probably the most excessive type is genocide in several components of Asia.”
Free Prior and Knowledgeable Consent, the appropriate to self-determination and the appropriate to self-dignity—that is crucial for human rights and should be revered. When these rights aren’t upheld, indigenous individuals, together with individuals with disabilities, are dropping their lives, being killed, and being murdered, in several types—and their id is in risk. Probably the most excessive type is genocide in several components of Asia.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, the entire Chepang group’s properties had been burnt down at midnight. The armed police harrased, abused, and tried to rape the ladies, who had been taking care of their infants and their garments on the time. This was one severe human rights violation, however within the title of the pandemic, the federal government of Nepal and its human rights fee did not make any form of intervention, safety provisions or compensation.. This led to Amnesty Worldwide lastly reporting on it.
FII: Talking of the appropriate to well being, what do the intersections of well being and environmental justice appear to be to you?
Pratima: Indigenous peoples are now not permitted to make use of the group forest to supply fundamental, conventional, and wholesome meals. This has impacted the group’s well being and elevated vulnerability throughout disasters and in regular settings. They’re now reliant on alternate sources of meals and livelihood, which is tough for many indigenous communities as they get low paid jobs or wouldn’t have jobs.
A case research of a Chepang lady/lady with incapacity who participated in a analysis challenge that was developed into a brief video by us, couldn’t entry water for her menstrual wants, as a result of the water sources of the group had dried up. Native well being posts additionally wouldn’t have an understanding of indigenous values and connections to nature. There may be so want for extra analysis that must be performed on the intersections of well being and environmental justice as impacting indigenous ladies with disabilities, within the coming days and look in a holistic and built-in method to make sure nobody is left behind.
The interview has been paraphrased and condensed for readability, on the interviewer’s discretion.
FII thanks Pratima for her time, persistence, and illuminating insights into her work. Ms Pratima tweets @pratimapeace.