From Seeking to
Kamal Nayak, the founder of the NGO Good Universe, is a UN SDSN Fellow, who has been working at the intersection of climate change, health and gender for the last 6 years. Advocating sustainability as a primary goal, his vision at Good Universe is to create a free and equal world where women, children and transgender people can lead a dignified and secure life. Hailing from a rural village named Kerual in Odisha, India, Kamal has seen poverty up close. The lack of proper education, sanitation, water facility, along with internalized patriarchy and gender disparity, played crucial roles in his childhood and teenage life. Searching for a secure life in an urban environment, Kamal was moved by the very irony of urban developmental sectors: crowded slums on the one-lane where children are fed near garbage cans, and air-conditioned buildings with clean water facilities and sanitation on the other. It is an apt metaphor for the developing face of India where the boundaries of the haves and have-nots share the same ground. Pursuing his interest in the social and development sector, he was accredited with the necessary training and academic experience in social work and joined as a project associate and volunteered in several NGOs from the UN to local organizations.
Knowing the disparities in gender, health and climate issues, Kamal persistently worked to ensure a space where people are aware of their rights and duties towards themselves, each other and the environment. Founding his NGO, Good Universe, in 2015, Kamal advocated sustainable menstruation and created awareness amidst every gender community in the slums of Hyderabad. Having real-life experience of domestic violence and witnessing gender discrimination in rural and urban parts of India, Kamal realized that there is a need to initiate awareness on gender inequalities and unlearn internalized patriarchal norms. He, along with his NGO, focused on the adversarial effects of unhygienic practices related to menstruation and ensured proper sanitation for the slum dwellers. As the people in slums were discriminated against and used by different sectors of society, gaining their trust was never an easy task for Kamal. Working tirelessly and strategically, through workshops and action-oriented programs on sustainable menstruation, Kamal, along with his NGO, was able to impact 55,000 women and adolescents directly, and 10,00,000 indirectly
In 2018, Kamal began to explore the linkage between health, gender and climate change. The plastic-coated sanitary napkins and improper waste management are pernicious to the women as well as the earth. Being aware of these hazardous effects of unprocessed plastic wastages, Kamal advocated for sustainability in a two-fold structure; for women and children in the city and slum areas, and for the environment. This proposal awarded him “The Local Pathway Fellowship'' under UN SDSN in 2018, and he promoted UN SDSN goals 3, 5, 11, and 13 in his chosen city. Through various initiatives, workshops, and training programs, Kamal engaged and educated the youth about the need to create a sustainable lifestyle and environment for a better future. Enabling the marginalized communities to make informed decisions about their lives and the environment, Good Universe established several community leaders in the city. His work builds a safe space to advocate issues of climate change, gender and health in the three states, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, of India. Kamal aims to chart his social work, simultaneously addressing climate change, sexual reproductive health, and gender, to reach the grassroots level of every state and district of India. He envisions localizing the concept of climate change and how gender plays a crucial role in tackling the issue. Living in a poverty-ridden village and understanding different dimensions of social and gender inequalities, Kamal ventures to empower the people who live closest to the harsh realities of today’s climatic changes and gender discrimination.
Kamal aspires to work together with governmental, educational and industrial institutions and aims to enable the youth of India as catalysts and agents of social, gender and climate justice. Believing in the concept of unity in diversity, Kamal endeavors to bring about change in social, climate and developmental sectors through engaging the common people of India. He and Good Universe aim to enable change-makers and advocate the severity of climate change and gender inequalities. Sustainability is the keyword to his work and goals.
Things I Do
To prioritize social well-being over traditional business needs. Recognize social problems and achieve social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes, and operations.
To support young nonprofit organizations to define, grow, and scale their impact; design organizations for effectiveness; and build strong leadership capabilities.
To develop innovative and creative campaign concepts and create a broad range of multi-channel content that is visually engaging, inspires and connects with audiences, and delivers change