1) Give a little background about you and your journey as a peace activist: when did it begin and how ?
My name is Ira Fedorenko. I am a PhD student at the University of Oxford, and I have been involved with several projects on human rights education and environmental justice back home, in Russia. I have co-founded several non-profit organisations that worked for youth empowerment and environmental policy. This journey brought me to Oxford where I received a prestigious Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust scholarship. Here I met my co-founders.
2) What are your key achievements and issues you are responding to in relation to your activism work? ( eg: Trauma healing, Human trafficking, women empowerment, etc)
Our project works on India women empowerment through environmental stewardship and sustainable trade. With the rapid pace of industrialization in the last twenty years, excessive exposure to chemicals has become a way of life. From brushing our teeth in the morning to having dinner at our favorite restaurant, we seem to consume chemicals either through food or personal care products. BubbleNut Wash provides a natural alternative that can replace chemical-intensive products from our lifestyle. In doing so, it also seeks to create income streams for communities living in and around forest areas in India. BubbleNut Wash works with communities in order to create a sustainable source of income from collecting products from the forest that otherwise would be cut for wood.
3) What keeps you going and give you inspiration in your work ? what gives you hope ?
All the wonderful women we work with – their strength, wisdom and the love of life! We have now been working with two groups of 12 women, and we have 100 more on the waiting list. We need to provide enough demand for our sustainable products in order to employ more women, so they can double their incomes.
4) What would you consider to be the most difficult period of your activism journey and what lesson(s) did you get from that experience?
The most important lesson is that you have your own timing, while the project has its’ own life. And most of the time they don’t match. It can be very frustrating, but having a great team that will keep reminding to relax and persevere is very very important.
5) Following Trump’s election as president of the US, women activists across the US and around the world are increasingly joining voices to stop his administration from stepping on women’s rights. How is this momentum building up and being maintained where you are currently? What partnerships are important to make it successful ?
Yes we are all scared about the political developments in most countries of the world, and we choose to just work harder and try to find good partners to achieve our goals.
By working with our women coops, we are doubling their incomes and encouraging local communities to preserve their forests (when the forest products become more profitable than selling timber). This has a multifold impact on climate change, biodiversity, social cohesion and education. We know that we are very small at the moment, but we also know that our work is highly scalable and extremely cost efficient. For the 8th of March, the international women’s day, we start building our global movement to support rural women and to preserve the environment. Building an international support that has no borders and transcends through cultures and religions is what we believe is the best we can do right now. If you agree please join our group on teaming at bubblenutwash . And if you are interested to learn on how land restoration can contribute to peace and prosperity, please join us at this conference. Also you can visit our Facebook page for more updates on our work.
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