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Seize The Moment: Don”t Wait For Tomorrow To Become A Leader And Change Things

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By Lata Jha:

Some lessons can’t be taught in those moral science classes. For those lessons, you only have life and its experiences to lean on. For everything that goes wrong today, those moral scriptures told us, we have tomorrow to bounce back with a vengeance, work on and correct them. What however we learnt all by ourselves over the course of time was that for tomorrow to be as glorious as we wished and envisioned it to be, it is today that we have in hand to take the initiative and begin working towards.

leaderEvery single day, life teaches us the importance of living in the present. Of working for the task that we have on hand today. If exams are round the corner, one needs to begin preparing today instead of wasting one’s time cribbing. If there are issues troubling us, voice needs to be raised today and now. What we have with us are only our principles, beliefs and our initiatives.
The 5th Space reiterates that very thought of foregrounding the now, not the future. Of creating leaders out of people today and not waiting for them to enlighten themselves with time.

In the context of everything going on in the country at present, the issue of foregrounding the present acquires even more relevance. The rape of the five year old is something we should immediately retaliate against, and not think about and wait for others to show us the way. It’s ridiculous to try and justify the fact that these things happen in remote, obscure parts of our cities. No, they shouldn’t be happening. We can’t let them happen. And if those we’ve elected and bestowed with the power to straighten things up can’t do so, we shouldn’t be taking it lying down. We have a system in place that isn’t held accountable enough. We have people responsible who aren’t doing their jobs well, of taking to task those people born deranged. We just need to figure out the form and pattern of our leadership and initiative. Leadership needs to be not just spirited, but also rational in seizing the moment.

Our ideas of being active participants and leaders may differ, but it is important that we act in time. You may want to be present at the ITO protests and live tweet, while I could be at a press conference. A third person might follow up on other such cases that probably haven’t garnered even a fraction of public attention. Whatever the form might be, what’s important is that we learn to act and lead today. Reaction is not what is needed, response is. Instant, active and empathetic responses. It is necessary that we ask the important, uncomfortable questions. It is necessary that we hold informed views. It is necessary that when we exercise our rights to vote next year, we do so knowing whether whom we’re reposing faith in deserve it.

Leaders aren’t born out of convenience. They are born out of initiative and spirit. The 5th Space envisions that very space where people look beyond themselves as soon as they come across issues that bother them.

The violation of our rights is just among the many things that sadden us. But it shouldn’t be that way. It should galvanize us to take a stand and demand a stop to all this. There are people who say that actions, not words matter. And instead of criticizing the country and its policies, one should grow up to do something for it. But that’s looking way too far. The country requires each one of us now, contributing in whatever little way we can. It requires a certain leadership and spirit of us. This is why we shouldn’t wait to get our degrees and have our lives in order till our conscience awakens. It has to come from us now. Change doesn’t look for the right hour or an opportune moment to manifest itself. And the time to bring about a change cannot be debated and deliberated upon. It might just be too late by then.

You must be to comment.
  1. Bansi Dhameja

    The falling standards of the leadership in our country is a cause of great worry. WHERE IS OUR COUNTRY IS HEADING TO?.
    if we want a change I agree with the writer that QUOTE” It is necessary that when we exercise our rights to vote next year, we do so knowing whether whom we’re reposing faith in deserve it” UNQUOTE.

  2. Krishna Prasanth

    A very relevant article.It is important it that each one of us takes initiatives to change things and make things better where ever we can. This way we can create a population full of leaders, of people who can go that extra mile and make things happen. These little changes everywhere can make a huge difference and make the country a better place to live.

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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.

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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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