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The CWG Saga: From A CWG Volunteer

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By Tania Goklany:

The Commonwealth Games 2010 is the 19th Commonwealth Games and the ninth to be held under that name. It is an international multi-sport event held every four years, where thousands of elite athletes participate from 54 Countries. All the nations who are members of the Commonwealth come together and compete with each other at this prestigious platform. This year we have 71 teams competing.

As important as these games are, our country’s capital has done no good by bidding to host them. Instead of bring fame to our nation; it’s only bringing us shame. Wonder why we bid for it if we weren’t ready; we were given eight years to prepare our infrastructure for the games and here we are. Now two days to go, Delhi’s Chief Minister, Mrs. Sheila Dixit, says in a press conference that the work will be over and we will be fully equipped for the games but she can’t tell by when exactly, she can’t even give a deadline yet!

While cheap jokes do rounds on Mrs. Dixit and Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, one of the recent editions of Times of India stated that, on investigating they found that the Organizing Committee (OC) comprised of sundry spouses, nephews, and relatives. Are these “sundry” people the kind of people who are going to organize such a major event and take us forward? We are already facing the consequences of having such “sundry” people in the committee.

Apparently, eight years was just not enough for us to have built our infrastructure well enough. While one of our metro lines are yet to start on the 2nd of October (one day before the games begin), the foot-over bridge in Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed on the 21st of September. In her defense our Honourable Chief Minister said that this foot-over bridge was not for the athletes but for the commoners. I guess she implied that the common people aren’t important enough to her. Don’t we have the right to lead a safe life and not worry about which building, which bridge might just fall on us? Our lives aren’t worthy enough? Footpaths uproot themselves shortly after being put in place and more money is spent on repairing them, only to see them uproot yet again. Newly constructed roads have caved in and with most of the infrastructure development projects running behind schedule, it is not just quantity but the quality of work that has been compromised.

The authorities themselves launched the publicity campaign only weeks before the Games. The Delhi Tourism website was redone and launched for the Games as late as on Sept. 10, 2010. The CWG song by A.R. Rahman was launched only a month in advance on Aug. 28th, 2010. However it did not really go well with many, even with those in the Government who found it lacking pace and too slow. A whopping 5 Crore Rupees was what Rahman charged for a song, that took him 6 months and the same wasn’t approved by the majority. Six months in the making, yet a delay in the launch, and not even worth it?

The Games bring with it a spirit of togetherness, it brings tourists in large numbers, the number being directly proportional to not just how significant is the particular sporting event, but also how attractive the host city/country presents itself. This is one of the major benefits of hosting events like the Commonwealth Games. But corruption has already marred the Games spirit and the crumbling infrastructure which breaks down as it is being laid down has already kept many from the sporting fraternity as well as tourists away. And now it’s almost as if the Rain Gods have decided to punish the authorities for the delayed preparations and the reported corruption in the system.

Adding to the infrastructural delays and the corrupt management is the unhygienic and unlivable accommodations offered to the athletes in the Commonwealth Village. With dogs sleeping on the beds meant for the athletes and the bathrooms stained with “paan”(beetle), India faced yet another episode of humiliation. The village cleaning is in process and will hopefully be done in time (not that we have much in hand).

I, myself, am a volunteer for the Games because of which I am expected to defend the games. But even if I try to, I’m made to shut up because two days to go and I still haven’t received my accreditation. So, today I managed to get through the volunteer helpline number, which is impossible to get through. This gentleman, on the help line tells me since I’m not disqualified, I’ll receive my accreditation within the next two days (like it can happen thereafter), and when I asked him when will it probably be, tomorrow or day after, he tells me he doesn’t know. Does anybody know what’s happening at all? A lot of volunteers have still not been called to their venues for their training either.

With the Commonwealth Games, it seems to a lot many that India is asking its tourists and guests to choose how they wish to die. Options are Dengue, collapsing bridges, unhygienic accommodations, Rabies etc. The conditions and the ambience being offered to them keep us in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. In spite of all the pitfalls and setbacks, India sees this as the “best Commonwealth Games to be delivered”. Wonder how this will be the best ever, when even we Indians don’t want “To come out and play” in such conditions, leave alone the athletes.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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