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The Story Of Becoming Superpower Nations While Treading On Poverty

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By Tanima Banerjee:

Today’s world is living in the age of global competition; where most of the developing countries are trying to climb the ladders of economic, industrial and technological progress and be the next self-sufficient super power, while the already developed countries are busy trying to consolidate their position at the peak. A certain country is preoccupied with being the next USA, and adopting stringent and harsh measures to achieve that dream, inconsiderate of the welfare of its own civilians. There is India, which is doing all it can to get that one seat in the Security Council, competing with South Africa and Brazil and allowing all sorts of foreign investments and opening India to the world, so that its industries can grow, and India can proudly present the picture of ‘India Shining’. The Commonwealth games were more of a platform for India to present itself in a platter to the world, by simply brushing away the slums and street vendors, and project world-class infrastructure of huge flyovers, clean roads, A/C buses and metros; in short a beggar-free , hi-tech India. But in the fight to finish, not just India, but the whole world is neglecting the real issues they need to address.

The helpless, poverty-stricken man who lives on less than $1 (Rs.32 in India) is the one who is getting neglected in these countries, which are not concentrating on the real issues they are facing, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. All the superficial development does not account for the 1 billion people around the world who still live in extreme poverty, and the 800 million who don’t get a single meal in the whole day and go hungry.

These numbers are not mere digits, but the dark, grim reality of our everyday life. The millions of poor people are not only not getting food, but their basic Human rights to health, education, work and welfare are also being denied. The need of the hour is not spending millions of money on flyovers and malls for the privileged public, but for all the countries to cooperate and show concern for the poor by using all that money to work towards their upliftment. Global poverty seems like an incurable ailment, but if all the nations cooperate towards this humanist goal of eradicating poverty from the roots, there is still hope for the rural and urban poor. These countries wherein reside people whose backs are broken by the burden of living in poverty ridden conditions, and have to see their own family members die of starvation, need to ensure that these people get an access to education and work. They need to make sure that the farmer who grows food for the whole nation mustn’t die of lack of food grain in his stomach. The poor need to be made into useful human resources for the country, so that they can work and justly get their dues from society.

There are innumerable programmes and plans the government make to provide the poor with proper employment, restoring the rights of the women and children to proper education, healthcare and sanitation, eradicating diseases and making the benefits of new technologies of information and communication available to them. But these plans should not just remain in paper, but need to be practically implemented. The whole International community should cooperate together in this problem. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), created by the international community in 2000, represent an unprecedented opportunity for the world to usher in a new era of collaboration in fighting poverty, by setting concrete targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015. Yet very little time is left to bring these goals into reality. It’s high time for the government to work together with civil society, multilateral institutions and private sector entities. There should be debt-relief programmes and tariff- and quota-free access for their export for under-developed countries that are under high international debt. A good government that works for development and poverty-reduction at national and global level is required, and not one that focuses just on urban growth. No country can call itself to be progressing, until the poor in their country are denied of their basic necessities.

The needs of the less developed nations should be given special attention and care by the countries that are financially secure. Most importantly, the youth of these countries must be strengthened so that they can be capable of taking forward their country in the future. The poor need to be made self-sustainable so that they don’t die out of lack of money, food and medical facilities. These are little baby steps that can take such countries forward, for its only ideal that the whole world progresses in a wholesome manner, and no country has to remain crippled behind.

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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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