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Seven Key Tasks For Delhi’s New Government That It Must Urgently Look Into

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By Devanik Saha:

The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) grand sweep to power in Delhi – in less than two years after being number two – is a clear indication that impatient voters have soaring expectations. If those expectations are not quickly fulfilled, disillusionment is likely to be as quick. Although Delhi is India’s richest urban area with the best infrastructure in the country, there are deep, difficult problems that face the world’s second-most populous city.

aap

Here are seven issues that the new AAP government will have to urgently address – unless it wants to be the focus of disillusionment next time.

1. Healthcare: With 60% of Delhi’s population earning less than Rs 13,500 a month, it is evident that they cannot afford expensive private hospitals. Official data reveal that the number of available beds in Delhi government and central government hospitals has declined by 8% and 47%, respectively over three years. On the other hand, availability of beds in private hospitals has increased by 36% in the past five years.

healthcare

2. Unemployment: Rising unemployment is a big worry among Delhi’s voters. IndiaSpend had earlier reported that female unemployment has doubled over six years, although this also could reflect women withdrawing from the workforce as their families prosper. The number of employment exchanges has remained constant over the past three years, but the number of registrations has increased by 71% from 93,000 in 2009 to 159,000 in 2013. This is an indication—many of those who are jobless do not bother registering with employment exchanges—that the new government will have to focus on creating more jobs and boosting the local economy.

employment

3. Crimes against women: Delhi has a reputation for being unsafe for women. The state has the highest incidence rate of crimes against women in the country at 147 incidents per lakh women, followed by Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2013 report. The new government will have its task cut out to reduce the crime rate and make Delhi a safer city for women.

safety

4. Water: Water has been one of the major election planks in Delhi. IndiaSpend had earlier reported how 24.8% of Delhi’s households (around 3.25 million people) do not receive piped water and each person gets, on average, 3.82 litres a day; 36 litres less than the minimum 40 litres suggested by the World Health Organisation. While the number of metered connections has increased 12% over the last five years, the number of unmetered connections has risen 31%, from 0.36 million in 2009-10 to 0.47 million in 2013-14.

water

5. Education: Though the number of government schools increased 8% over the past five years, from 4,993 in 2009 to 5,401 in 2014, the quality of learning is not likely to be any different from the abysmal quality reported across India. As this report mentions, there are no credible data on the learning outcomes of students in Delhi’s government schools. The new government has to focus on improving the quality of education rather than just building schools.

education

6. Electricity: Delhi has one of the highest electricity rates for consumers in the country, as the data obtained from various electricity boards across the country reveals. Delhi faces seasonal weather conditions that increase the demand for power. Power companies purchase 86% of their electricity from other states, 30 billion units out of a total 35 billion units, which is considered a major reason for inflated electricity costs.

7. Pollution: Delhi is now the world’s most polluted city, according to the World Health Organisation, and millions of lives are at stake, although this does not show up as a major concern for voters. But with Delhi now akin to a gas chamber, no new government will be able to ignore the city’s ever-worsening air quality, likely to be made worse by a sky-rocketing number of vehicles with 8.3 million registered vehicles and 1,200 new vehicles being added daily. A basic requirement would be to put in place monitoring equipment. No accurate, real-time data is currently available to Delhi’s people on the quality of their air, specifically minute and toxic particulate matter called PM2.5, which causes a variety of respiratory and cardiac illnesses.

Graph Source: Delhi Statistical Abstract 2014

This article was originally published by IndiaSpend.

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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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