Licypriya Kangujam or as she is lovingly known by her fans, Licy, wasn’t even present in this world a decade back. She is just 9 years old but her impact on the most pressing issue of our times is extremely vocal and pertinent.
When most kids are unaware of the macrocosm, Licypriya is out there saving the world and making it a better place for her peers and the future generation to come. This green activist was first moved by the plight of Nature and humans when she was barely a toddler. Today, she jet sets across the world, stages demonstrations, moves millions of people to work towards her goal of saving the planet.
Licypriya is part of the elite group of child activists like Greta Thunberg, but don’t compare her with Greta. Licy wants to be known for her work and not live under the shadow of her fellow comrade. And rightly so!
So, when we adults have failed, it is up to young girls like Licypriya Kangujam who hail from the beautiful North-Eastern state of India, Manipur to save their homes and that of all the inhabitants of our beautiful planet. Not all heroes wear capes, some wear bows on their head!
The Voice of Woman is proud to present to you the story of this brave young crusader Licypriya Kangujam. We wish her all the best and salute this young hero!
At 9-years old when most kids are out playing, you are on a mission to change the world. How did you start this journey?
The Nepal Earthquake of 2015 is one of the important incidents of my life. I accompanied my dad to raise funds to help the victim’s children and families. Then we delivered the relief materials and food from India by road to Kathmandu from Imphal. I cry when I see children losing their parents and people becoming homeless due to the danger of disasters on Television.
My heart feels sorry for people who can’t help themselves when disaster strikes. That was the first time I learned the words climate change and natural disasters. But I couldn’t realize what exactly it was as I was very young at that time.
I was born in a small village of Manipur in North East India surrounded by lush green mountains and an alluring atmosphere full of natural beauty but when I came to Delhi in 2016, it’s messy and that turned me into a child climate activist.
Then I went to Odisha for my schooling. I grew up in Odisha. Odisha is India’s one of the most disaster-prone states. When I was six years old, Odisha was hit by severe Cyclone Fani in 2018 and again by Cyclone Titi in 2019. Cyclones are more severe due to rising temperatures which is the impact of climate change.
In July 2018 when I was just six years old, I got an opportunity to attend the United Nations Disaster Conference in Mongolia. It was my life-changing event.
Just after returning home from Mongolia, I started my organization called “The Child Movement” in July 2018 to call on world leaders to take immediate climate action to save our planet and our future.
My first parliament protest began on February 2, 2019. I have three main demands to our leaders:
1) To pass the climate change law in the parliament as soon as possible;
2) To make climate education compulsory in every school of India &
3) To ensure plantations of a minimum of 10 trees by every student of India.
If they pass the climate law then we can control carbon emissions and greenhouse gases and also it will give climate justice to millions of poor vulnerable people and other marginalized communities who are the victims of climate change. And also, it can bring accountability and transparency to the government.
And also making climate education mandatory in schools’ curriculum will help to fight the climate crisis from the grassroots. Italy has already made Climate Education as compulsory in their school curriculum since 2019. If India follows the same, India will be the second country after Italy taking such an initiative in the history of the world and first in Asia.
India has over 350 million students. If 350 million students plant a minimum of 10 trees every year then we will plant 3.5 billion trees every year. Trust me- India will be greener within 5-10 years. This will help to fight air pollution, floods, droughts, heatwaves, and other environmental issues in the country.
Before my parliament protest, I moved from place to place to create awareness on climate change especially targeting children and young people, and also attended various global important meetings to raise my voice.
I addressed the world leaders to take immediate climate action at the United Nations Climate Conference 2019 (COP25) held from 3-14 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain. It helped me to amplify my voice globally.
I travel to raise my concerns about climate change. So far, I have travelled over 32 countries as a part of my movement and spoke in more than 400 institutions and platforms on climate change as a speaker across the globe in the last two years. When I began the movement, I was alone but today, I have thousands of love and supporters across the globe.
At such a young age, you are raising your voice against the government and other influential organisations- don’t you feel scared?
I never felt so in my last 2 years of active activism. When I raise my voice, it is not against anyone. It’s for a common good, a cause to protect our environment and to create a safe future for us. Climate Change is not only for adults. It’s affecting each one of us. What I’m fighting is for everyone. So, I am not scared to tell anyone the right things and stand for the right things. I’m blessed with the love and support of all.
Your image is often slandered- ‘achievements being called fake’- how do you deal with such negativity?
Not a single mainstream media either national or international wrote anything bad about me. I only found one particular self-styled media called “OpIndia”, who write against me and target me for always speaking out against Narendra Modi and his Government but no one counts Opindia as a media. Their main work is to defend the government with its political agenda.
People know OpIndia is the biggest fake news factory and right-wing media but never right anywhere. I found such a propaganda news article to tarnish my image in 2-3 websites out of hundreds of positive success stories about me in the mainstream media. So, I never pay attention to them.
Moreover, I never beg anyone to recognize my efforts including media or any organization or institution. People only invite me to speak and give me some trophies or a token of love for my presence. I never asked anyone to give me awards.
If I am fond of such achievements, I might have accepted PM Modi’s honour of “She Inspire Us”. And also my work is a war in the frontline for humanity. Such achievements are not important. That’s why I rejected even PM Modi’s honour.
And also, I never invite any media to cover my protest or campaign. They only followed me and published the news stories of my works. Naturally, people know me and become one of the leading voices for climate change in the world. One important thing is that leaders listen to our voices and act now before it’s too late.
Greta Thunberg, Leah Namugerwa, you, and other children have started raising awareness about climate issues- what is the role of the youth in saving this planet?
Especially girl children and women are leading the voice for climate change across the globe. Youth are playing a key role to raise the voice against climate injustice to our leaders. We all are united and will go-ahead to fight for climate justice. We don’t have any difference in our potential but India has a bigger issue than them in terms of the climate crisis. So, the world needs to listen to our voices more than others or equally without any bias.
Do you miss being a ‘normal child’? What does Licy do when she isn’t out creating awareness?
I sacrificed most of my childhood life in activism and travelling to attend various events to raise our voices around the world and India.
That’s why I dropped out of school in February 2019 due to my protests every week in front of the parliament house. My parents can’t afford the expenses for travelling every week from Bhubaneswar to New Delhi for my protest so I decided to drop out of my school. It was the most disappointing period of my life. I missed my school, my friends, and my teachers.
Also, people love me and invite me to various programs in various countries and cities. I have to wake up at midnight to catch the flight or train from home and miss sleep many nights. I sacrificed my beautiful childhood to play with friends and have fun to tackle this climate crisis.
Most of the time, I read my books at the airport, inside the flight during travelling time and I did homeschooling by calling private teachers at home to fill up the gap of my school as both education and my activism is equally important for my future career. It’s a very big challenge for me to manage both.
I have resumed my study since January 2020 at Indus International School, Bangalore but I may shift the school to Delhi from this new academic session.
On the other sides, I love painting, swimming, and playing with friends. I also love to plant trees in my free time.
Can you please share a few tips that can be implemented by everyone to create a greener and fresher environment?
My ongoing work now is to plant a thousand trees every week on Mondays across India and other countries of the World by celebrating Monday as “Monday for Mother Nature” with school children to make our planet green again. Everyone can participate in it. I will pick up 2-3 schools every week for this initiative from any part of India or the world to plant trees. This is the time to give back to nature.
This is the effect of my 2020 birthday celebrations two days back on 2nd October where I urged people to plant trees instead of just wishing me. Many turned out and planted over 2,41,000 till today. Some say it’s a “Licy Effect”. Many children and people from different communities turned out to wish my birthday by planting thousands of trees across India and the World. I want to continue this impact every week by planting trees with school children every Monday.
I already planted over 52,000 trees in my life across India & Africa. Planting trees, cutting down emissions, and changing our behaviour are the ultimate solutions to the climate crisis. If we continue to wait for concrete actions from our leaders, then we can’t save our dying planet from human destruction.
For children to make a difference, parental support is very important, what do you want to say to parents?
When I began my movement, my mom didn’t support me initially. Later after my UN COP25 Speech, she extended full support to me. They were worried about my study and future career. Good parenting and positive guidance are very important for children from their parents to success in any field or cause. Parents need to believe in our work and also need to be strong to make a difference. Hard work and sacrificing spirits is equally important for both the parents and children.
Crimes against girls are one the rise- what do you want to say regarding this?
Crime is everywhere but our country is at the top currently. It’s very unfortunate. We need education to eradicate this. Crimes are more committed by illiterate people as they don’t know what will happen after committing those crimes.
You share your birthday with Gandhiji- what are some of his philosophies that you follow?
Gandhiji greatly influenced my life since early childhood because we share the same birthday. I believe in non-violence, peace, and also never fight or be angry with anyone. I always love to smile even in a sad time and I never scare anyone. And also, I never stop until I have achieved my goals.
Please share a message for all youngsters through the Voice of Woman.
The message that I want to share through the Voice of Woman is firstly Plant trees, secondly cut down emissions, and thirdly change your behaviour. These are only three messages I want to give to the people of the World.