Stories written by Stella Paul

Ecosystem Conservation Gives Hope to a Vulnerable Community

42 year-old Saraswati Subedi still remembers the night she almost died in a flash flood. “I heard the cries of my neighbours and ran out of the room with my two children. There was water all around and I thought we were going to die, so I started to pray,” says the mother of the three in Karki Tahara – a village by the river Harpan Khola in Nepal’s Kaski district.

Women “Water Friends” Script a Success Story

Prema Bai, 58, bends her head and pushes hard her wheelchair on the village road. In the early afternoon, the village of Mamna appears almost deserted although it is home to 742 families and is located in Uttar Pradesh - India’s largest and most populated state. Thanks to a severe drought, every man and woman under 50 has fled Mamna in recent weeks, leaving behind the elderly and women with very young children. “They thought we were like cattle, a burden in this hard time because we only eat but yield no returns,” says Bai whose two sons and their wives also migrated to Agra -- a city 255 km away -- to work in a brick kiln.

Faith Leaders Join the Fight against Child Marriage

Anger is an inner demon that one must have a strong grip on, believes Virayya Shastri - head priest of Maddi Madugu Anjaneya Swamy temple in southern India’s Mahbubnagar district. But mention ‘child marriage’ and the priest finds himself struggling to stay calm. ““Early marriage ruins a girl’s body and scars her mind. There is no way you can call yourself a believer when you support such a thing,” says the priest turned anti-child marriage advocate.

Bali holds Family Planning Conference Amidst Many Unmet Needs

Porter Ngengh Tike is in her late thirties, but looks well over 50. For 8 hours every day, she carries around a large bamboo basket on her head, delivering supplies to local traders in the biggest traditional market of Bali – Pasar Badung. At the end of the week, she earns about 18 dollars - a sum that Tike uses for food, household expenses and her 10- year old son’s education. So, when it comes to seeing a doctor, there is no money, says Tike who suffers from genital infections.

Earthquake Survivors Struggle Amid Fuel Shortages Due to Protests

At 40, Durga Rajak, co-owner of “Mailadai Hans ko Choila,” a popular eatery in Kathmandu, is learning to light a stove all over again. However, this time she is using diesel fuel instead of kerosene. She admits this is a risky job. “There is always the danger of a blast, so I must never pump the handle too fast or raise the flames too high,” she said.

Paris Delivers Historic Climate Treaty, but Leaves Gender Untouched

After 2 weeks of intense negotiations, on Saturday evening, the 21st UN climate conference (COP21) in Paris finally delivered a historic agreement that, for the first time, promises to keep the global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. The treaty, consisting 31 pages and signed by by 196 countries, include the big five steps of climate action:

Honour Our Right to Exist, Say Pacific Island Leaders at COP21

On World Human Rights Day (December 10) at the UN climate conference in Paris, small island nations from the Pacific made a passionate call to the world leaders: stop climate change and honour our right to exist on the earth.

Women Leaders agree COP21 Must Have “Gender-Responsive” Deal.

53-year old Aleta Baun of Indonesia’s West Timor province is a proud climate warrior. From 1995 to 2005 she successfully led a citizens’ movement to shut down 4 large marble mining companies that polluted and damaged the ecosystem of a mountain her community considered sacred. After their closure in 2006, she became a conservationist and restored 15 hectares of degraded mountain land, reviving dozens of dried springs and resettling 6,000 people who were displaced by the mining.

Acute Malnutrition: A Community Fights Back

In the semi-darkness of her hut in Berdaballa, a forest village 610 km northeast of Mumbai, 28-year old Babita Mavaskar sat with her newborn baby boy watching him checked by a paramedic in an important antenatal exam. After about 20 minutes the health worker emerged from the shelter and made a big announcement, “All is well. Everything, the weight, temperature and height … is normal.”

Q&A: “We Must Put Everything Aside and Just Focus on Water”

Globally, more than 748 million people do not have access to safe drinking water. That is more than double the population of the entire United States.

Shifting Sands: How Rural Women in India Took Mining into their Own Hands

Thirty-seven-year-old Kode Sujatha stands in front of a hut with a palm-thatched roof, surrounded by a group of men shouting angrily and jostling one another for a spot at the front of the crowd.

Farmers Find their Voice Through Radio in the Badlands of India

Eighty-year-old Chenabai Kushwaha sits on a charpoy under a neem tree in the village of Chitawar, located in the Tikamgarh district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, staring intently at a dictaphone.

‘Legal Friends’ Fight Gender Violence in Rural India

Mamta Bai, 36, distinctly remembers the first time the police came to her village: it was December 2014 and her neighbour, Purva Bai, had just been beaten unconscious by her alcoholic husband, prompting Mamta to make a distress call to the nearest station.

From Slavery to Self Reliance: A Story of Dalit Women in South India

HuligeAmma, a Dalit woman in her mid-forties, bends over a sewing machine, carefully running the needle over the hem of a shirt. Sitting nearby is Roopa, her 22-year-old daughter, who reads an amusing message on her cell phone and laughs heartily.

Tech-Savvy Women Farmers Find Success with SIM Cards

Jawadi Vimalamma, 36, looks admiringly at her cell phone. It’s a simple device that can only be used to send or receive a call or a text message. Yet to the farmer from the village of Janampet, located 150 km away from Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana, it symbolises a wealth of knowledge that changed her life.

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