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This Is How You Can Ensure That Every Woman Uses Her Power To Vote In The 2014 Elections

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By Namita Singh:

Next year almost 800 million Indians would get the opportunity to cast their vote. This will be largest democratic election in the world till date. We as a nation will decide who should govern us. But do we actually decide? Do we really exercise our Right to Vote? Are we able to use the power that is vested in our vote?

women votes

Sadly, the answer for more than 40% Indians would be NO. Lesser number of women than men voted in the last general elections in 2009. It means that an astonishing 8.4 crore women in India did not vote! However, there were 6 states where women set the trend and outnumbered men. It is this trend that we at Haiyya want to further this election. While women’s issues have often been ignored by the politicians, we want to build a movement with women across the country to pledge to vote. In the current climate of the country, it has become more imperative than ever before that women’s issues take centre stage. We believe that women need to come out in huge numbers. Women need to show that they are not mere spectators of the democratic process. They need to affirm their power and they need to send out a strong message to the politicians that their issues cannot be ignored.

To bring the attention to women’s issues, Tata Tea’s JaagoRe initiative launched the Power of 49 campaign. Haiyya has partnered with JaagoRe for the on-ground action. The past 3 weeks Haiyya team worked hard on the field in Delhi to recruit citizens for this campaign. We started work in 4 constituencies of Delhi; Greater Kailash, Mehrauli, Model Town and Patparganj, where more than 60 volunteers joined hands with us.

These volunteers went to colleges, market places and door to door to spread awareness about the Power of 49 campaign, collect issues of women residents, register women to vote and to encourage them to come out and vote on the Election Day. The drive was hugely successful. Our teams in 4 constituencies engaged more than 10,000 people across Delhi in conversations about women’s Right to Vote and encouraged more than 5,000 people to become a part of this campaign.

The team leader in Mehrauli, Ramani, says about her experience, “When you first start talking to women it appears that they are not interested in the issue. But 5 minutes down the line, you see a spark in their eyes; you know they are thinking that they are important too, that their issues are important too, that there should be a difference. You know you have begun to make a change. That is what made my work so satisfying.”

Another team leader from Greater Kailash, Shivaranjini, recalled her experience of engaging men in conversation, “Sometimes men seemed more interested in this campaign and that was such an encouragement. They were passionate about women’s issues and they really wanted to help with the campaign. In fact, one such guy whom I met while street canvassing became one of the most dedicated volunteers we had on our team.”

All the teams had several such inspiring incidents, where men and women, young and old, rich and poor, left enthused and feeling optimistic that they can do their bit to change the situation. A wave has already started, where women recognize that their single vote makes a difference, that if more and more women come out, together they will be a power to be reckoned with.

We need more people to join this campaign and support women’s issues and their Right to Vote. Our work in Delhi continues, with an increased intensity. If you want to support this cause too, please join us. We are looking for people who can inspire their community into action. Follow this link if you would like to work with us in Delhi as a Team Captain or as a Volunteer.

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  1. Raj

    While this is a good movement and I wish it good luck, I am personally, in principle, opposed to its inherent sexism. What exactly are women’s issues and how different are they from “men’s issues” . Except for some issues related to reproduction, what are the differences? Safety, freedom from coercion, law-order-justice , infrastructure, education etc. are desired by both men and women equally.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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