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#TEDxConnaughtPlace Live Blog

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[liveblog]16.30: TEDxConnaughtPlace commences now. Get, TED, Go!

16.35: Witness a movement of sorts, A culmination of ideas and perspectives: TEDxConnaughtPlace

 

16.38: 8 speakers prepare to enthrall you with their stories and dreams of a bigger, a better future.

16.45: Piyush Tewari talks about the occurrence of accidents, the fact that India, every hour, encounters 20 road accidents. In this he highlights the highly imperative need for an Emergency Medical Response from We, The People of India. An education of such manner can save the lives of many. He continues to talk of gathering and mobilizing people, or First Hand Respondents, as he denotes it, in order to create a system of effective action during the post-accident stage. It is through these efforts and work that his organisation has been able to create an information network within India to communicate the occurrence of an accident in a certain part of the country to volunteers in order to gather help and support in the immediate need of saving a life.

17.15: Ishita Khanna of Ecosphere shares a story of life in the region of Spiti, home to only around 11000 people, and how she works towards establishing a harmonious way of subsistence for inhabitants of the cold desert.  Ecosphere thus sensitizes tourists and people, in general towards the need for preserving the culture and ecological balance of the region through sustainable means of energy usage. “Getting Spiti of the Grid” is thus an initiative that works towards “Decentralizing Energy” and making it community-owned, in order to provide the people of the place with a self-sufficient means of existence. “We need to stop being the audience… we cant change the World, but we can change ourselves” — it is this effervescent spirit of wanting to Do Good and Be Good that she leaves us with.

17.40: “It’s a really good time to be an entrepreneur in India…” says Ajay Chaturvedi, as he begins his dialogue. He underlines the great inequalities existing in the Nation of India, how the average expenses of a 5-membered household in India is less than 10% of that of a rich family in India…and the difference is just of a few 30 kilometers. It is with this concern that he started HarVa, or short for ‘Harnessing Value in Rural India’. While it is an easy task to go to a village for a week and making a few arrangements to improve the living a few households, he emphasizes on how, more importantly, it is required to set up a long-term foreground of empowerment to truly change the lives of the Living.  The socio-capitalistic way, as he puts it, creates opportunities as much as it develops a skill set among people, thus creating a sustainable means of social and economic subsistence.

 

18.05: Natalie Warne recounts her story of advocacy in the Invisible Children Movement, and her move towards protesting against the abduction of children of Uganda for use as child soldiers in the context of the military conflict in the country. This video from TEDx Teen, held in April 2011, reaffirms the fact that Change can be brought about, what one requires is a want for conviction, not recognition. In her words, “It is the act that makes us extraordinary, not the Oprah moment”.

 

18.35: Tania James, author of “Atlas of Unknowns”, talks of the very epistemology of the English language. She shares her story of growing up, and experiences that collectively shaped her person and incited in her creative energy that writers live on. Literature speaks to her and inspire her to channelize her thoughts into the written word.

 

18.40: B-boying in the House- Need I say more?

 

18.48: Snack time. Famished. Will not speak. MUST eat. (Say the speakers)

 

19.30: Pramada Menon, the queer feminist activist talks about Gender, Sex and Sexuality. She talks of sexuality and how its meaning goes beyond the act of sexual intercourse, to encompass different spheres of life, and how one’s sexuality is reflected in our ways of living. She questions stereotypes of sexual identities and orientations and raises the issue of heteronormativity, to emphasize that everything is normal, everything is natural, and this universally applies to all things as long as actions of one do not infringe upon the rights of another. She highlights the liberating potential of identity, of the need to question hierarchies of oppression that tries to curb anything that falls apart from the convention. “When I say ‘Not Straight, Not Weird, Just Commonplace’, I mean the need to re-interrogate, not negotiate” — it is with this thought that Pramada takes leave of us.

 

19.50: Swati Sahni begins to talk about the state of the education system in India, the challenges and opportunities it presents. While reforming the system of schooling, one is confronted with may challenges- be it the alienation of certain social groups from being able to benefit from the educational services provided by the government, or the high drop-out rates among girl students. She talks about the need for education that the people of the country can truly use and benefit from, about the respect that teachers of schools deserve, about the need for decentralized planning in villages to make sure that services reach the most remote corners of rural districts. Our education system has, in the words of Amartya Sen, a First Boy Syndrome, says Swati, the education system needs to be truly inclusive and go beyond the first desk, to reach the child sitting at even the furthermost bench, and only this form of knowledge can truly empower the masses.

 

 

 

20:30 Anoj Viswanathan of Milaap, our penultimate speaker is here to talk about engaged giving and creating a change outside the system.
Anoj talks about his fight against the system, convincing his parents to see that he did intend to bring about change and simultaneously figuring out what exactly he could do with his life. His trials and tribulations in a superpower like the United States, the whole idea of the poor- the idea of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ ,  failure of the system in implementing the needs of the not so affluent strata of our society. He uses pictures to showcase how the most basic of problems such as sanitation in the rural areas were overcome by virtue of community participation. Charity, personal connection and engaged giving are vital in order to bring about change. Anoj is an engaging speaker and his dedication in his work is evident, so is his sense of humor.[liveblog]

 

[liveblog] 20:53: Osama Manzar of Digital Empowerment Foundation started off with a witty remark ”Looks like America has arrived having Osama on stage at the American Center” which got the audience roaring in laughter and clapping as loudly as they could.
After a little background on his early life peppered with his self-critical humor and replete with sentences like ”The only two words I knew about IT during the 90’s were hardware and software”, Osama was as natural a speaker as one could be. He traced his journey as the founder of Digital Empowerment Foundation and then spoke about the various problems our country is plagued by. It was remarkable as to how well-versed Osama was with figures as he stressed on the lack of IT usage in a developing economy such as ours.
His initiative seeks to connect people to reach out to the market and help the’ technologically challenged’ learn and empower themselves. To enrich the world, we should have local knowledge reaching outside and bringing about a developmental change.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prahlad Patel

    lots of learning.. keep the momentum going on in full swing.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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