Stories written by Stella Paul

Education, Not Condemnation, Say Women Leaders Who Survived Violence

Sally Mboumien remembers the day she pressed a steaming hot stone against her chest. In Bawock, the rural community of western Cameroon where she grew up, young girls often had their young, sprouting breasts flattened with a hot iron or a hammer or spatulas that had been heated over burning coals.

Combating Climate Change? Combat Land Degradation, Says UNCCD Chief

Land restoration is not a “glamorous subject even when you give all the numbers,” admits Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification UNCCD). But she also stresses that by 2050, the world population will reach 10 billion. To feed that extra 2.4 billion, current food production would need to be increased by 75 percent.

At Climate Summit, Two Global Energy Alliances Emerge

As the summit of governments known as COP23 reached its conclusion in Bonn, Germany this week, two clear alliances have emerged in the global energy landscape.

On Gender Day at Climate Meet, Some Progress, Many Hurdles

“Five years ago, when we first started talking about including gender in the negotiations, the parties asked us, ‘Why gender?’ Today, they are asking, ‘How do we include gender?’ That’s the progress we have seen since Doha,” said Kalyani Raj.

Adolescent Health Congress Skirts Issue of Abuse, Trafficking

Twenty-year-old Gogontlejang Phaladi of Mahalapye, Botswana is grateful she was never sent to a so-called “hyena” like scores of girls in neighboring Malawi were.

At Key Finance Meet, Mongolia Seeks Path to a Greener Economy

Rapid growth of a coal-fired economy often leads to environmental degradation, and Mongolia is a case in point.

Digitizing Family Planning: The Way of the Future

Online shopping may have its pros and cons, but when it comes to buying products that have an invisible morality tag, it’s the safest possible option, believes Franklin Paul.

For India’s Urban Marginalized, Reproductive Healthcare Still a Distant Dream

In a semi-lit room of a southern Chennai neighborhood, a group of women sit in a circle around a table surrounded by large cardboard boxes of "Nirodh" – India’s most popular condom.

Sri Lanka’s Small Tea Farmers Turn Sustainable Land Managers

As the mercury rises higher, Kamakandalagi Leelavathi delves deeper into the lush green mass of the tea bushes. The past few afternoons there have been thunderstorms. So the 55-year-old tea picker in Uda Houpe tea garden of Sri Lanka’s Hatton region is rushing to complete her day’s task before the rain comes: harvesting 22 kgs of tea leaves.

Barefoot Solar Warriors Take On Gender Injustice and Climate Change

On a summer morning in 2008, Magan Kawar decided to leave her village for a job. The very next day, her parents-in-law excommunicated her.

Students Under Siege as Schools Burn in India’s Troubled Kashmir

In the fading light of a November afternoon, 12-year-old Mariya Sareer bends over a textbook, trying to read as much as she can before it gets dark. It's been nearly five months since the seventh grader from Shurat, a village 70 kms south of Srinagar city, last went to school, thanks to a raging political conflict.

New Protocol Aims to Cut Trillion-Dollar Food Waste Bill

Four years ago, 27-year-old Tsering Dorji of western Bhutan’s Satsam village took to organic vegetable farming. Since then, thanks to composted manure and organic pesticide, the soil health of his farm has improved, and the yield has increased manifold.

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.”

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