Women in the world - Interview with Reetu Sogani

Women in the world - Sharing the stories of inspiring woman around the world taking action on climate change.

Reetu Sogani is a Grassroots Practitioner and Activist from India.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Passionate about local knowledge.

Tell us a little about the work you do and what you are doing at present?

I have been working in the remote areas of Middle Himalayan ranges, in India, with the gender, participatory and the rights based approach for the last 15 years on the issue of People’s rights over their Resources and Knowledge system and protection of Cultural and Biological diversity. This work is being done very closely with the Women, Indigenous communities and the marginalized, at the grassroots level. In addition, I have been working at the Policy Advocacy level to mainstream the issue of People’s Knowledge and their rights in the policies and programs of governance particularly related to Community Food and Nutrition security and Climate Change.

My education and training as an environmentalist and anthropologist, perhaps gave rise to my life long commitment for working towards improving quality of life, especially of the marginalized and vulnerable.

My background in Botany, Zoology and then Management propelled me to do a PhD in Environmental Management. My education in different disciplines has helped me see things beyond human made boundaries with a holistic perspective.

My extreme desire to work with communities especially in the environmentally fragile areas and learn from them about their coping mechanisms/human adaptation mechanism (which have evolved over the centuries) and which helps them overcome the unique bio physical conditions to eke out an existence, has acted as a catalyst towards my decision to learn and contribute towards the strengthening and promotion of knowledge systems with the rights perspective.

I now feel the urgent need to share the experience with people from other areas, raise concerns and capacities, and join hands  to evolve an alternate form of development  ( free of the impact of the present form of Liberalisation, Globalisation and Privatisation)processes which are people centric, people based and people controlled.

I was interviewed by UN Communication media and UN Radio in March 2012, on her work together with several organizations, especially in the context of climate change and traditional knowledge systems, in Mountain Ecosystem at The 56 th Commission on Status of Women at UN head Quarters, New York. This interview of hers with UN Communication Media was highlighted as part of the “outcomes” of the CSW and was also included as a run up to Rio 2012.

Women groups with whom I had been working at the grassroots level since 2001 on the issue of forestry and sustainable agriculture have received national recognition and acknowledgement for their work in sustainable forest management.

What inspires you?

I feel very strongly and inspired by ‘ People’s Knowledge’ and have been working  to protect, strengthen and promote it at the grassroots and policy making levels , with the marginalized sections. This living knowledge in the area of Agriculture/Food security, Health, Natural resource management( NRM) has helped them cope with difficult conditions to survive in environmentally fragile areas.

Women speaking confidently about themselves, sharing their immense knowledge and wisdom on ecologically sustainable and economically resilient methods , practices relating to farming, natural resource management, animal and human health inspires me hugely.

What do you think are the unique strengths of women in taking action on climate change and living better for the planet?

Their immense practical knowledge in every aspect of farming, sustainable use and management of natural resources, water management, livestock care, maintaining the health of family, environment and animals, can play an important role in developing strategies of adaptation and mitigation.

These strategies can play a crucial role in carbon sequestration, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and help attain food and nutrition security

What do you hope to see happening in the next year in relation to forming a Women’s Climate Action Agenda?

Grassroots awareness workshops, signature campaign of rural common women, documentation of strategies developed/introduced by women for adaptation and mitigation and their showcasing, international meetings/dialogue with more and more women participating in discussions and sharing their perspectives.

We know the time to act on climate change is now. Do you have an inspiring message or a call to action you would like to share with our 1 Million Women community?

LOCAL PRODUCTION of diverse varieties using local organic methods, its LOCAL DISTRIBUTION and LOCAL CONSUMPTION.

- A bit more: Reetu Sogani also works to mainstream, sensitise and build up the capacity of the organizations on the issue of Gender, Food Security, Climate Change and Sustainable Livelihoods. She received her Masters in Management followed by a Doctorate in Environmental Management. She is the IUCN commission MEMBER representing India and was recently chosen as a member of Bridge International Advisory Committee- IDS, UK.

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