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Loudspeakers Are Killing You, Turn The Volume Down For A Healthy Heart!

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By Gautam S Kumar:

What is noise? It can be anything ranging from an aircraft taking off to a nagging neighbour. Put simply, it is any form of sound that is unpleasant. All of us have been shushed at some point of our lives. But did you know that we are effectively shortening the life of the person who shushed us? Okay, that may be a bit too extreme for an accusation. But yes, recent research by a team from the US and Europe have found associations between noise and heart disease, sleep problems and a variety of other health related issues. What makes the revelations all the more grave is the fact that noise pollution isn’t really something that we can get away from.

Noise Pollution

Dr. Mathias Basner, a member of the research team reveals that our auditory system or, in other words, our inbuilt ‘hearing tools’ remain active even when we are asleep. And because of this, noise can wake people up multiple times without them even realizing it. And all of us are aware of how cranky we can become without a good night’s sleep. More noise, hence means crankier people. Crankier people means more noise and thus, this acts as an endless cycle. Even if one is a very sound sleeper, he/she is not immune to the ill effects of noise. Chronic exposure to noise can lead to an increase in the production of stress hormones. And we know this is true because each and every one of us has sat through a traffic jam that had us wanting to rip our ears out. Blaring horns, screaming drivers, crying babies and one is left wondering just how worse ‘hell’ can be.

The study also reveals that chronic exposure to noise can cause increased blood pressure, which can take a toll on the heart. And shockingly (not) the heart happens to be a very important contributor to this wonderful thing we call life. The more a person is exposed to a noisy environment, the weaker the person’s heart becomes. This just makes things much worse for the financially weaker sections of the society like construction workers, labourers and factory workers as they can’t even afford the treatment and/or medication for their weakened hearts. In their struggle to provide for themselves and their families, they are inadvertently making things worse in the long run. Noise pollution thus has strong social consequences as well and unless serious measures are taken in developing countries like ours (Countries like the USA provide construction site workers with equipment to cut off the sound) to safeguard these workers, it will continue to be a major hindrance to the overall progression of the country’s economy.

What is more disheartening is that it is the poorer sections of the society that are more prone to chronic exposure. These are the people who have their homes located close to highways and airports and it proves to be another classic example of things going from bad to worse. Not only do they suffer the consequences of lower socioeconomic status, they also have all this noise to deal with. Of course, there is an argument that all of the health problems they have are solely because of their socioeconomic status and that the noise doesn’t really make a difference. However, the studies conducted have taken all of those factors into account and this thus underlines the fact that all the noise is adding to the number of years taken away from their lives.

The problem is even persistent in hospitals, usually considered to be noise-free zones. The research reveals that in places like intensive care units, the machine noises from the medical equipment in itself results in the worsening of the patient’s condition as well as increased healing times. The noise also has an adverse effect on the hospital staff who become annoyed and fatigued more easily owing to it. This holds true for all work places with the bottom line being that a noisy workplace leads to decreased productivity and diminished well being of employees.

We live in a country where every festival involves loud crackers and blaring music. A country where elections mean vehicles with loudspeakers screeching out ‘earsplittingly‘ loud propaganda. A country where the roads keep getting more congested with traffic jams already part and parcel of daily commuters’ lives. All of these reasons make it of utmost importance to us that we find ways to protect ourselves from all the noise. Using noise canceling earphones wherever possible, placing bedrooms away from highways and most importantly not contributing to the noise, all go a long way in making the environment much more pleasant. Keep the crackers minimal, turn the music down, refrain from honking the horn just to get under other drivers’ skins and don’t scream unless absolutely necessary (you will know when) so that you can enjoy a better atmosphere and a better you. So spread the word people, and always remember to keep it down.

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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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