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Indian Climate Action Entrepreneur Wins United Nations Women’s Award

Divya Hegde from Udupi, coastal Karnataka, has won the United Nations Women’s Award for Leadership Commitment. She received the award at the 2021 Regional Asia-Pacific Women’s Empowerment Principles Awards ceremony. Officials recognized Hegde for her sustained efforts in advancing gender equality through climate action efforts. Her organization, Baeru Environmental Services, works in the areas of waste management. This creates livelihoods for rural women and develops a circular economy in the region.

“Gender justice is inextricably linked to climate justice. The world needs to leverage women as its most powerful ally in fighting climate change. At Baeru, we enable rural women’s socio-economic empowerment by leveraging the power of design and technology in lingual and regional contexts. We firmly believe that our mission of environmental justice and gender equality go hand in hand,” said Hegde.

The impact of Baeru Environmental Services

Baeru empowers women in the community to take proactive climate action measures. It generates employment and offers them access to training programs in waste management and product development.

The company currently works in coastal Karnataka and along the Western Ghats, which is a global biodiversity hotspot. The lingual and regional context is a central part of its climate communications work. Baeru uses the medium of local arts and cultural practices to conduct relatable and effective workshops for women and children.

By establishing a strong and relevant context, Baeru addresses the disconnect between the severity of the climate crisis and local coastal communities. The company debunks myths that climate solutions are oppressive, unsustainable and economically devastating for rural populations.

Divya said, “We work closely with women to enhance  their awareness of climate action issues, as they are the primary decision-makers concerning the lifestyle choices of their family unit. By helping them harness technology and encouraging micro-entrepreneurship to streamline waste management,  we have been able to generate gainful and meaningful employment for women, thus enabling financial independence.”

More about the United Nations Women’s Award

The UN Leadership Commitment Award recognizes leaders who have been instrumental in setting up strong commitments that aim to promote gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and/or community.

The United Nations Women’s Award is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. It is aimed at empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors.

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