11-year-old Indian climate activist inspires action through social media

Licypriya Kangujam, 11, is an environmental activist from New Delhi, India. She holds a climate justice sign in front of the White House, which she visited. MUST CREDIT: Courtesy of Licypriya Kangujam

At age 11, Licypriya Kangujam has already traveled the world, but her adventures haven’t been all fun. She’s been trying to help save the planet by getting the attention of people in power.

“Asking [for] clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and clean planet to live are our basic rights,” said Licypriya (pronounced lih-see-PREE-yaa), who is also called Licy.

Inspired by teenage Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Licy began protesting at age 6.

“I started spending a week outside the Indian Parliament House to draw the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass a climate change law in India,” she told KidsPost in an email. She also founded the Child Movement, an organization that calls on world leaders “to take urgent climate action to save our planet and our future.”

Last month, Licy traveled from her home in New Delhi, India, to New York City, to attend the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly. That’s when 193 countries send representatives to talk about the most important issues for the world. Licy participated in several events at the U.N., on climate and education, for example. She met other activists, including Malala Yousafzai, who received the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in helping girls to get an education.

Licypriya Kangujam, 11, right, traveled to New York in September for the United Nations Transforming Education Summit. She poses with fellow activist Malala Yousafzai holding a climate-related sign. MUST CREDIT: Courtesy of Licypriya Kangujam

Licy also traveled to Washington, D.C., and visited the White House.

But Licy might be best-known for getting officials at the Taj Mahal mausoleum to clean up trash at the historic site. When she visited it for the first time in June, she says she was shocked to see piles of garbage around the nearly 400-year-old white marble building, where emperor Shah Jahan and his wife are buried. She held her own protest, holding up a sign that read “Behind the Beauty of Taj Mahal is Plastic Pollution” and posing for a photo.

“The picture [went] viral in the social media, and the plastic pollution around the Taj Mahal was cleaned within 24 hours,” said Licy.

Licy said social media has been a powerful tool for her, allowing her to stay up-to-date on environmental issues, as well as speak out about them. It also helps her gain support from her followers. She has almost 21,000 followers on Instagram, more than 37,000 subscribers on YouTube and almost 157,000 followers on Twitter. Her mother manages her accounts, which require owners to be at least 13 years old.

“Whenever I raise my voice, people keep increasing[ly] following me,” she said. “At the same time, I faced lots of false propaganda, threat[s] and abuse to silence my voice.”

Despite all that, Licy says her nonactivist life is normal. She’s a fifth-grader at Ryan International School, where her favorite subject is math. When she isn’t studying or accepting invitations to speak at other schools, she swims, paints and watches the cartoon “Doraemon” with her 8-year-old sister, Irina.

She also has an initiative encouraging kids to plant trees every Monday, hoping to get to 1 million trees planted this year, “to make our planet green again,” she said.

Licy has suggestions for other kids who want to be activists: Persuade your parents to walk, bike or take public transportation. Stop using single-use plastics. And make sure trash makes it to the wastebasket.

“Many people told me that I’m too young to get involved in such activism, but … I strongly believe that children can lead the change,” she said. “We need to keep speaking up about the climate crisis and … to hold lawmakers accountable for their political decisions.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here