There is a place I visited recently where women are sent into forests to collect fodder to feed their livestock – despite farmers keeping their cows out of the very same forests for fear that their precious livestock will be eaten by tigers.
This is also a place where every second person you speak to believes a man is allowed to beat his wife.
The place I’m describing is in the state of Uttarakhand, high in the Himalayan mountains and distant from any infrastructure and key education or health services – where the stories you hear constantly remind you of the deep-rooted inequality and persistent hunger.
This way of life is not sustainable, for anyone. It keeps women subjugated, isolated and discriminated against; men disenfranchised, abusing their power and turning to illegal alcohol for respite; forests decimated because the trees are sold off to big corporations with no benefit to the local community; and the cycle of hunger keeps on turning, as it has for generations gone by.
The cycle continues because to date, solutions have always been band-aid fixes, and have never been addressed in a sustainable way. A holistic approach has never been taken to social, economic and environmental issues.
The Hunger Project is partnering with champions of change to create sustainable solutions to ending their hunger. In fact, sustainability is a core principle of The Hunger Project’s work, and is key to any solution we implement in partnership with the community.
One champion of change in Uttarakhand is Basanti – a pioneer of long-term solutions, a symbol of hope and optimism, a fierce warrior protecting her people and her land.
Basanti is evidence that norms are shifting, and that – while not inevitable – it is possible to replace band-aid fixes with sustainable solutions.
On the 16th of May, we’ll share more about how you can stand with Basanti – and together put an end to lives being risked, harm being done to women, and devastating hunger and poverty.
Yours in ending hunger,
CEO, The Hunger Project Australia