Three Dalit women from Andhra Pradesh took part in a protest outside the conference area of the UN climate talks by ceremonially burning their conference badges. They felt that their voices had not been heard in the COP15 process.
When Narsamma Masanagari, Manjula Tammali and Sammamma Begari travelled from India to Copenhagen to take part in the UN conference on climate change, they wanted answers to some pressing questions.
“We came to find out if there is a real struggle against climate change, if the conference would include small and marginalised people like us, or if it is only for the rich?”, Narsamma Masanagari from the village of Pastapur in Andhra Pradesh told this website during her stay in Copenhagen.
On the morning of 16 December, the three women presented their own answers to these questions outside the Bella Center where the COP15 talks are being held. Ceremonially burning their accreditation badges, a group of Indian activists protested against the lack of community participation in the climate talks.
“Climate communities must have a place in such a forum. It is important to bring in the voices of the small and the excluded. If you really want to understand climate change, then come and talk to people like us,” said Narsamma, who has felt the impact of changing weather patterns on her own farming community.
As Dalits, the three women already know a lot about being excluded. Nevertheless, by organising themselves and many other women in their communities, they have managed to gain respect and, to some extent, break out from a cycle of oppression and discrimination. They feel that they are owed the same level of respect by world leaders.