The Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative and the Sikkim Chapter of IMI hosted a panel discussion, sharing the journeys of 3 women engaged in various sectors in the SIkkim Darjeeling Himalaya. Ms. Kamlesh, an educationist, environmentalist, anti-trafficking activist, football and hockey coach: Ms Shanti, a river guide, rescuer in the turbulent River Teesta and the Koshi floods and a social activist; and Dr. Sunita, a pioneering conservation biologist whose work in red panda is seminal and continues to work on human-wildlife interactions, biodiversity and zoonosis.
The discussion enabled critical contextual discussion on gender in the Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya through the life stories of the panelists and offered inspiration for our society. Personal achievements and journeys of the speakers highlighted the enabling factors and support systems they fell back on. Systemic inequity that does not acknowledge, recognise the contributions of women in our society were the barriers that needed to be broken, so as to provide equal spaces and opportunities.
As a build up to the event a “Women Move Mountains: Conversation Series” on Kalimpong TV were also organised. The conversation series brought some important stories to the forefront by sharing stories of women who have moved mountains from various fields from the Sikkim- Darjeeling Himalaya exploring inspirations, journeys, successes, challenges and lessons learnt. The series highlighted the lives of Dr. Mona Chettri (Researcher); Ms. Tribeny Rai (Film Maker); Dr. Smriti Basnet (Glaciologist); Ms. Savitri Chettri, (Chair Kitam Biodiversity Board and ex Sarpanch); Ms. Binita Rai, (Community Leader Mineral Springs Sanjukta Vikash Sanstha); Ms. Tshering Uden Bhutia (CEO, Khangchendzonga Conservation Committee).
Sustainable Development Forum of Uttarakhand (SDFU)
The 5th RST Forum was organised on the occasion of International Mountain Day, on December 11, 2022 by the Sustainable Development Forum of Uttarakhand (SDFU). A day-long workshop on the theme “The role of women in and community-based organizations in forest management and climate change mitigation”. Government officials, community-based organizations, private sector, University representatives, and NGOs were present in the workshop to brainstorm on the issues of climate change in the mountains, role of women in climate mitigation, working of Van panchayats which were the issues central to the interest of Dr R S Tolia.
The workshop highlighted that women of Uttarakhand had played a significant role in forest conservation and climate change mitigation as exemplified by the well known Chipko Andolan. Lack of coordination between the administration and encroachment in forest areas were discussed as key issues. The workshop discussed on setting up Van Vikas Kendras, forming new cadre for Van Panchayast to monitor and implement rules, devising inclusive women-centric policies and to bring coordination between the Biodiversity Act and the rules of Van Panchayat.