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  • Writer's pictureScience & Environment

The ‘Warrior Moms’ Fighting For Clean Air

A Brief History of the Warrior Mom’s Quest for a Cleaner, Safer India

By Anastasia Goelitz

A woman cooking with solid fuel, one of the leading causes of household pollution in India, by Sudharak Olwe (Warrior Mom) via IDR

“When my daughter was born, twice I had to take her to the infant intensive emergency care at night because she couldn’t breathe”. 

This is the story of Nina Subramani, cofounder of Warrior Moms, a women's organisation in India that fights for clean air, in an interview with the Observer Research Foundation. The initiative started in 2020 when a group of worried mothers came together over their common concerns about the levels of air pollution in Indian cities and its effects on humans, especially their children’s health. The movement has since grown considerably with thousands of mothers from major cities like Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi joining, many driven by personal experiences: rushing their newborn babies to hospitals or developing asthma and other health problems themselves after moving to a larger city. Many Indian doctors, as well as environmental and health officials around the world, have expressed support for the group and their goals.

Air pollution through particles (particularly carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide) is a rising issue around the world, causing a variety of potentially fatal heart and lung diseases and leading to around seven million deaths each year. It is one of the major environmental problems in India. According to the World Health Organsiation (WHO), air pollution exceeds the air quality guidelines by far and accounts for 39% of deaths from strokes and ischaemic heart disease.

An estimated 36% of the population does not have access to clean fuels and technology for cooking, and 98% of Indian children do not breathe safe air.

The group’s main objective is to implement the WHO’s air quality standards across the country to ensure clean air for their children, as it is a basic right. Subramani explains: “We are based on common sense and sound science, and we want a better future for our children”. Warrior Moms provide a platform for women and parents across the country to connect and access resources for the fight against air pollution. Through social media campaigns like ‘Know Your Rights’, rallies and policy intervention, they provide information about the sources of air pollution and how to report activities such as the use of firecrackers, mixed garbage burning or cutting down of trees. They actively demand a move to green energy, as they see the burning of coal, petrol and other fossil fuels as one of the major sources of air pollution in India. According to the group, solutions include better waste management, enforcement of the regulations for construction sites, urban mobility and biodiversity protection.

With more mothers joining and the international attention for the group growing, the group is only just beginning to be a global example for meaningful environmental advocacy and female empowerment.


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