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One Google Hangout That Compels You To Question Patriarchy And Challenge Gender Norms

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By Kirrat Sachdeva:

From 976 in 1961, to 918 in 2001; six years down the line, the newspapers will flash a fresher number of the child sex ratio from the 2021 Census. This number will be used for the next 10 years across reports, studies and assignments to reflect that the girl child needs to be saved. The need of the hour is to go beyond the uproar that these declining numbers create every decade, to solutions that reverse the flow of these numbers.

A decision that takes place within the four walls is not only based on the need to fulfil the ‘laws of inheritance’ but the larger social construct- a construct that ties honour to safety and upbringing to liability. It is not only a matter of changing perception towards having daughters, but also implementing the legal framework that prevents this perception from taking the shape of falling numbers in the next Census.

Youth Ki Awaaz thus hosted a Google Hangout in association with GirlsCount with a panel of experts to discuss probable solutions to curb the declining child sex ratio.

The panellists for the discussion were: Dr. Neelam Singh (Executive Director, Vatsalya), Ms. Preeti Sudan (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development), Ms. Aarti Dhar (Deputy Editor, The Hindu) and Ms. Varsha Deshpande (Secretary, Dalit Mahila Vikas Mandal). The discussion was moderated by Manak Matiyani (GirlsCount).

Ms. Preeti Sudan (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development) described the trend of decline in the child sex ratio through the decades. She put forth the point that misuse of technology is merely a symptom of the problem. The culprit is the mindset that favours sons over daughters. In terms of the initiative taken by the government, she spoke largely of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ that will be launched in January across 100 districts with the worse child sex ratio.

Dr. Neelam Singh (Executive Director, Vatsalya) established the context of the declining child sex ratio right from the advent of imaging techniques in our country that reflected through every passing census. In the 2011 census, the child sex ratio was 11 times worse in the rural pockets in comparison to the urban areas. She stressed greatly on how the misuse of technology to exploit the patriarchal mindset has huge social consequences. She also stressed on how the lure for profit through misuse of technology is not only limited to medical practitioners but also those who don’t belong to the sector. The preference for sons along with the technology to exercise that preference has translated into a phenomenon of ‘demand and supply’.

Ms. Aarti Dhar (Deputy Editor, The Hindu) emphasized on how such issues of social importance fail to garner visibility in the mainstream media. Reporting such news is more than often on the lowest priority as politics, crime and terrorism are given prime importance. The resistance has been challenging for her to carry out the on ground reporting on such issues. She highlighted how this issue cannot be tied only to the rural landscape as the most affluent and urban areas like Delhi have the worst child sex ratio.

Ms. Varsha Deshpande (Secretary, Dalit Mahila Vikas Mandal) has worked actively in the realm of legal activism. She drew attention to how the status of women tied to caste barriers, dowry exchange and safety concerns. She largely advocated for stringent implementation of laws and formulating a legal framework that is gender friendly. The solution exists not only in changing the mindset but also encouraging citizens to abide with the law, especially the youth, who are the future of our country.

The solutions emerging from this discussion were largely centred around challenging the patriarchal mindset through consistent awareness and sensitization. Along with this, the use of technology needs to function within the legal framework and a value system that leaves no room for gender biased sex selection.

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  1. Babar

    It is the patriarchy which has turned women into gold diggers. Women always marry men richer than them. Women have the option to work, men don’t. A man has been reduced to an ATM, driver, porter, and dildo. Women can spend their entire life on a man’s money, file a false case of dowry and get lacs in settlement, get alimony for the rest of their life, and usurp half of a man’s property after a divorce worth crores. The patriarchy allows women to commit legal terrorism. Is it surprising that a man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes, courtesy of draconian Indian laws of rape, dowry, domestic violence, marriage, and the patriarchy. Not everyone falls for feminist theories and lies about the patriarchy and equality though. More and more people are waking up to the lies of feminism, including women.

    Women Against Feminism

    1. Akshita Prasad

      Dear Babar,
      How many times have you copy pasted this?

    2. Akshita Prasad

      And what is it that you have against women? There are bad women in the world, but also there are bad men, so why not just say they are bad ‘people’. Wouldn’t that be so much better than having all this hatred against one gender!

    3. Babar

      I don’t hate anyone. I just want people to get out of the delusion known as feminism which shows all women as victims and all men as perpetrators.

  2. Babar

    It is a female child, just as it is a male child. Why do feminists selectively say ‘girl’ child but not ‘boy’ child? According to feminists only girls are human beings.

  3. Dark Knight

    A lot of women have bought the destructive idea that men prevent them from achieving their goals, all along delivering angry women and feminine men, calling all aspects of masculinity into question. When a man wants to make a decision, speak up or wants to say something, he is quietened down with imminent threats of inequality, discrimination and the patriarchy. Feminism seeks to squash male tendencies and emasculate them. It is a war against manhood.

    1. Akshita Prasad

      Could you describe manhood?

    2. Babar

      Your very question is an attempt to feminize men.

    3. ItsJustMe

      In India manhood is the lack basic human rights. You can work and support your family. But even for a 3 months of marriage your wife can claim half of your estate as alimony. For some reason having a penis implies men also have to pay a monthly expense to his ex wife whether she is employed or not. He loses custody of his children for whose support he can again pay a women he is no longer married to. Oh and in states like Kerala sex ratio is more than 1. Would you say that it is a tendency in society to not have male child. Have a little sincerity when you claim gender neutrality as feminists. I would count your hypocrisy at par with that of politicians

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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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