Dharamsala: On the eve of the occasion of His Holiness Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday, the Women’s Environment and Development Desk (WEDD) of Tibetan Women’s Association is launching its first phase of sustainable development projects inside Tibet to benefit Tibetan Women, particularly the displaced nomadic women.
The nomadic way of life in Tibet is increasingly under threat from changing social, political and environmental conditions. In September 2010, British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ reported that the Chinese Government is in the advanced stages of relocating between 50% and 80% of the 2.25 million nomads on the Tibetan plateau. Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, stated in December 2010 that the Tibetan nomads should not be compelled to relocate. De Schutter added that “it is Chinese government policy to implement the settling of Tibetan nomads, confiscating their land, and fencing pastoral areas, which has led to increased poverty, environmental degradation and social breakdown.”
Lacking a proper source of income the economic conditions of the displaced Tibetan nomads have worsened. According to Human Rights Watch, tens of thousands of Tibetan herders have been required to give up their homes and traditional practices to resettle, generally into urban or township settings where they struggle to establish themselves; in many cases this forced resettlement and displacement results in increased hardships and lower standards of living.
In addition to the struggles of the displaced Tibetan nomads to find a proper source of income, the lives of Tibetan women are being adversely impacted. TWA’s WEDD is sponsoring 14 female Yak (‘Dri’ in Tibetan) through the Tibet Foundation’s ‘Yak for Life’. Tibet Foundation is a UK charity that has an Aid to Tibet programme with a series of educational and healthcare projects in Tibet. Through TWA’s involvement in this programme 14 displaced nomadic families in the highlands of earthquake wrecked region of Kyegudo, Kham, in eastern Tibet will each receive a yak; this sustainable development project will ensure a constant source of income for the women and their families.
TWA’s WEDD has also launched a short video entitled ‘WEDD Green Action.’ The 3-minute video gives a sneak preview into the June 5 World Environment Day campaign, undertaken by TWA. This year India hosted for the first time the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), a global campaign known as “Forest: Nature at your service”. Five thousand Tibetan women belonging to 33 regional chapters of the Tibetan Women’s Association (RTWA) in India observed the World Environment Day by planting 20,000 trees in 10 Indian states. The video also features the New Delhi campaign in which TWA joined the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The video can be viewed on YouTube and www.tibet3rdpole.org