This is Guppi. She is fabulous. I met her when we went to the UNFCCC in Poznan together in 2008, as part of the UK Youth Delegation, and now I’m pleased to say we are v. good friends! She is a bit of a force of nature in the whole climate change/health thing and in life in general, actually.
Name: Guppi Bola
Website: You can probably get to know me online in three different ways:
1) What do you do and why?
I am a Coordinator for The Campaign for Greener Healthcare. More broadly, if you’re willing to indulge me in a massive cringe moment; I love learning about ways in which things can be better, then I try and do something about it. I guess that’s the long and short of it. To be a bit more specific, I got profiled by the Lancet Student last year which kind of explains quite well how I go about doing this.
So for starters I’m a scientist. I devour information, geek up on policy, comment, criticise and consume journals. But then I’m also a bit arty farty. I like indulging in sounds, images, words, and conversation – I love creating art, and watching others create it. I can’t think of any better way to share our experience and understanding of the world around us. I’ve just recently found a love for graphic novels.They are to die for. I’m probably a bit of a hippy - but I rarely admit that to anyone. I have this eastern ethnic background which means I can abuse the “mother India” look quite a bit and pretend I’m doing it genuinely. I’m probably not though – so I should stop wandering around barefooted and with too many bracelets on. I should also probably stem my desire to have a tattoo soon, before I succumb to it.
More seriously – I’m currently starting up my next adventure because I just came out of a Masters in Global Health. I spend most my time working on sustainability issues, and looking at ways in which we can enable individuals to live fulfilling, healthy and creative lives. That’s why I come at campaigning from a health angle. I hung out at the UN Climate talks over the past year, I’ve marched across London, I’ve written letters to MPs, I’ve been to Parliamentary debates – I guess I’ve tried to encourage others to also. I work with health professionals and academics on climate change because I believe the links between the two are inextricable - there are many man-made environmental problems that impact our health, but there are also an infinite number of solutions to both if we just flip the issue around. I’m starting a really exciting project on food systems that sort of encompasses everything from economic structures, personal behaviour and political decision making. I’m a connector - one of the best things about what I do is seeing amazing people meet other amazing people and watching magic happen. So if you’ve ever got a question about health care, sustainability, climate change and economics – I’d love to chat with you!
2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?
If it does I don’t think I’ve noticed it. When I look back on some of the things I have got involved in I can recount times when I’ve thought – wow – where are all the ladies!? The UN is one of them. There are hardly any women in UNFCCC meetings. The UK Parliament is another. such observations don’t worry me so much because I’d much rather be where I am than where they are – I think there are spaces where women can feel outnumbered and uncomfortable, and it is important to make sure both sexes have as much opportunity to participate as the other, if that is where they want to be.
I am what I am. I love/criticise/encourage a person regardless of their sex and I hope that people do the same with me. There are times though, especially when I’ve been travelling, where being a woman has gotten me into some situations that I think I could have avoided if I was a guy – and I must say that really sucks.
3) Are you a feminist?
I’ve never identified myself as one, and actually in the past I think I’ve actively rejected the notion! I put this partly down to my own naivety of the issue, but also because I recognised a while ago that feminism done wrong can often weaken the cause more than it can strengthen it. At uni we had a women’s officer, and I was up there campaigning to remove the post and change it to Equal Opportunities officer because I felt there were smaller groups of individuals who needed support and attention more than just “women”. I feel more passionate about equal opportunities, I would hate to be on the opposite side of the gender scale and feel like I wasn’t supported, so why should that be the case still for so many males/transgenders?
We’re equally as vulnerable or as powerful as the other, its more important to recognise where and when, rather than just who.
4) What are your future plans?
More of all the things I love, especially now I’m out of my studies; More exploration, more campaigning, more connections, more reading, more drawing/photography/crafting, more friends, more problems and more problem solving! I’m about to start a real-life adult job with a group called the Campaign for Greener Healthcare, which I’m pretty excited about. On top of that I want to start writing articles on health and climate change, I want to challenge myself with this new adventure in food systems, and I want to continue working with amazing groups like UKYCC, Medsin and Otesha!
5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:
I read an awesome book called The Spirit Level recently, where the authors spoke about how humans are evolutionarily conditioned to tackle conflict through love and co-operation. They showed how there is a branch of the evolutionary tree where apes split into two species: The Chimp and The Bonobo, and human social behaviour can be explained through the ways in which each species interacts within its communities.
Chimps have shown to resolve sexual issues (disputes) with power, exerting their dominance over one another. Conversely, bonobos resolve power issues with sex, as their dominance hierarchy is less pronounced. The good news is, humans have the same DNA pattern for regulation of social, sexual and behavioural regulation as Bonobos rather than Chimps.
Simply speaking, we should all be more evolutionarily accustomed to tackling conflict through love, not war!