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Shradha Shreejaya

r Shradha, walking into a roomful of people was the highlight of the Human-Centred Design workshop held at aikyam space. PRIYAM

Shradha Shreejaya

With over a decade of dedication to youth and women-led nonprofits in Asia, Shradha stands out in program management, policy advocacy, and sustainable development. Recognized as a Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung fellow (2019-21), her expertise spans gender, ecology, and leadership roles in various networks since 2010. A prolific writer, her insights have been featured in major outlets like HuffPost and The Hindu, making significant strides in gender and environmental dialogues.

For Shradha, walking into a roomful of people was the highlight of the Human-Centred Design workshop held at aikyam space. As a development professional who works on her own most of the time, meeting a whole community of like-minded people was a delightful experience. "I have been working remotely even before the pandemic," she said, during our conversation. "And I'm at a stage where I really value in-person interactions because there is a different kind of energy that comes up when we are all in a space together. But at the same time, I understand that that's also very ableist. So there has to be a hybrid nature, like if there is an offline event, I would also like to see an online counterpart." She explained how this is something that's coming up a lot from the disability community. "After the pandemic, everyone is trying to bring in-person gatherings but that's excluding people from the disabled communities. For them, it's much more easier to have a choice to participate. So from an accessibility point of view, I would still say to focus on making it hybrid. And because we are all tech people, it shouldn't be that difficult," she said.

Shradha works in the climate change sector, and here, she finds that most people are working in silos. "It's a few organisations doing very niche work and there is no connection. There's no collaboration unless they're coming for a UNDP meeting together or they are in a state government consultation. You barely see climate action at local levels in Kerala, unlike in some other states and cities, right? So the tactic of protest is still something that can be practised in Kerala state. But then that can't be the only tactic of engaging in the climate space. We need policy practitioners." She spoke about the Bengaluru-based WELL Labs, which takes data from high-profile publications and science reports on climate, and breaks it down for consumers. "They create very user-friendly briefs and resources. That is something that we can explore. Making these digital resources in Malayalam, contextualizing it to how climate change is affecting Kerala." Another interest area for Shradha is collaborating with local communities. "Building partnerships with communities, not making it extractive on them. At the same time, connecting them to the resources and people they need," she explained.

She shared the story of a community centre in Muhamma, Alappuzha, which falls in the Kuttanad area. The community centre was involved in wetland protection. "Reema was the project officer there and she's so inspiring," said Shradha. "She gathered all the women and they decided that for wetland protection, they must look after how their periods are managed. And Muhamma became a zero-waste periods town." So Muhamma township had plastic-free periods before the pandemic. "That's an example of how a community comes together and and finds a lot of solutions."

Similarly, with aikyam space, Shradha is excited to see a community of people coming together for change.

Shradha would like to help other changemakers with ideation, programme implementation and project management, besides research and fundraising.