She founded The World We Want to unite and galvanise business leaders, NGOs, governments, celebrities and influencers, philanthropists and global citizens to (co)-curate high-impact global movements, campaigns, and collaborations geared towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Having partnered with the likes of World Health Organisation (WHO) Foundation and UNESCO besides other non-profitss, The World We Want has been at the fore of driving sustainable development. Natasha Mudhar, Founder of The World We Want and the woman behind it all, believes there is nothing worse than being indifferent to those who need us – the people, the planet. To fight for your rights, we need to be aware of our rights. In this candid interview she talks of the problems faced by human beings in a post-COVID world, and how us – the privileged lot – can make a difference. Over to her.
The World We Want aims to unlock the collective strength of people, ideas, networks and technologies. What is the one thing had propelled you to set up The World We Want?
Since my childhood I’ve always known that my great-grandmother passed away in Punjab in the 1940s from tuberculosis, which today, is a treatable disease. I learned that she was a teacher who taught young children in Punjab, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. She died when her daughter, my grandmother, was just two years old. Owing to various circumstances, her daughter went on to leave school at the age of 10 and marry at 15. With my great-grandmother having been an educationalist, I always wondered if she would have allowed my grandmother to leave school at such a young age, effectively forgoing her opportunity at an education.
It made me wonder what happens to those without a guiding figure in their life, or a culture which promotes inclusivity and opportunity? I knew I wanted to create something which gave people hope, and something which strives to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which the notions of equality, safety and responsible prosperity are at the core.
The World We Want was established based on an impetus to unite and galvanise change-makers, organisations, non-profits, governments, businesses, celebrities, philanthropists and citizens to create a world ready and capable of positive action and change.
In setting up and working towards your goal, can you share some of the roadblocks you faced and how you overcame them?
One of the biggest challenges is making sure people are aware of the challenges we face as a generation. We realised that to achieve the SDGs by 2030, there was a need to engage cultures and demographics beyond policymakers, corporate sustainability officers, governments, and charities. When you assess the success, or failures, of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) for example - you begin to understand that these sectors were already engaged as part of those efforts, yet the impact was limited. You begin to realise that the fait of the SDGs relies on reengaging the aforementioned stakeholders, but this time aligning them with the most impactful changemakers. The ones who ultimately hold the lion share of power when it comes to changing the way we live our lives – the global public. Although educating citizens of issues and raising awareness of these is critical to the work at The World We Want , we are equally focused on converting awareness of issues into inspired action.
Has your gender ever been a hindrance when working around the people you work with?
Thankfully not. But I believe you don’t have to have personally experienced struggles to have a drive to help those who have, or perhaps will in the future if we do not act. I’ve been lucky to have worked in an environment where my teams respect me for my work ethos, drive and leadership – regardless of gender, but this isn’t the case for so many women.
You have spearheaded campaigns for changing attitudes and challenging stigmas around menstrual hygiene. Can you share a couple of shocking incidents that came to light during such campaigns?
Menstruation is a biological phenomenon that is natural to girls and women around the world, not just residing in the developed nations. 23 million girls drop out of school every year due to periods, just in India alone. This is not just an issue for the global south, as one in ten girls in the UK cannot afford sanitary napkins. Inaccessibility to basic menstrual hygiene like washrooms, water and sanitary products and added stigma and taboos are major factors which lead to millions of girls dropping out of school all around the world, depriving them of their future. Menstrual hygiene cannot be a privilege, period.
How have the challenges increased in your work through the COVID pandemic? How have you streamlined your strategies differently during this period?
On the surface, the pandemic meant we had to learn to work differently. We’d always worked close together as a team with brainstorm meetings throughout the day, lunch periods and coffee breaks. The pandemic meant everybody had to work a little more independently, remotely and without that social interaction which can be tough at times. Digging deeper into the way the pandemic changed our work, The World We Want was galvanised to launch several projects and initiatives designed to help combat the impact of COVID-19 in as many ways as we could. We mobilised and streamlined the credentials of The World We Want to support relief efforts.
In 2020 we partnered with WHO to launch a campaign to promote global solidarity and unity in the wake of the first pandemic, leveraging the power of music, through the superhit song, We Are Family.
In 2021 we initiated plans for a global broadcast which I conceptualised to drive upwards of $5mn in COVID-19 relief funds towards the long-term recovery for COVID-19 as a result of the second wave in India.
What are some of the unimaginable health and hygiene issues that the pandemic has brought forth?
During the peak of the pandemic, we witnessed basic necessities like access to oxygen become a sought after commodity, which pre-pandemic would have been unfathomable. The world was fighting for each breath. The pandemic has also accelerated issues around period poverty, domestic violence, starvation and poverty – with small businesses around the world collapsing and unemployment rising. The pandemic reiterated and highlighted the deep-rooted societal stratification like never before.
How do you believe corporate houses can earmark funds and manpower to make a difference?
Corporates need not “earmark” funds or men for making a difference. The change that we look forward to is that each decision exhibits the corporate conscience of doing well by doing good – the idea that corporate social responsibility need not be to the detriment of profits.
A thought you want to leave our young readers with?
There is no change without change. Whatever your own experiences have been, be mindful that millions may not have been so lucky, or millions might have experienced the same struggles as you. Either way, to make the world like the one we want – we need everyone to do their bit.
All images courtesy: Natasha Mudhar
Also Read: Dia Mirza Completes 3 Years As A UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate