BANGALORE, India | 28th December 2021: Divya Hegde from Udupi, coastal Karnataka, has won the UN Women’s Award for Leadership Commitment at the 2021 Regional Asia-Pacific Women’s Empowerment Principles Awards ceremony on November 18th, 2021. She has been recognised for her sustained efforts in advancing gender equality through climate action efforts. Her organisation, Baeru Environmental Services, works in the areas of waste management, creation of livelihoods for rural women, and developing a circular economy in the region.

Indian entrepreneur Divya Hegde recognised for climate and gender justice work.

“Gender justice is inextricably linked to climate justice and the world needs to leverage women as its most powerful ally in fighting climate change. At Baeru, we are enabling 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.”

Divya Hegde

Baeru empowers women in the community to take proactive climate action measures by generating employment and offering them access to training programmes in waste management, and product development.

They currently work in coastal Karnataka and along the Western Ghats, which is a global biodiversity hotspot. Lingual and regional context is a central part of their climate communications work and they  use the medium of local arts and culture practices to conduct relatable and effective workshops for women and children.

By establishing a strong and relevant context, they aim to address the disconnect between the severity of the climate crisis and local coastal communities, while debunking myths related to climate solutions being seen as oppressive, unsustainable, and economically devastating for rural populations.

Divya says, “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.”

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

This award is a joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact aimed at empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors.