This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What Is The Role Of Young People In The Fight For Gender Equality?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Ravi Karkara:

A deeper look at the global population brings out a striking image of the ever increasing gender disparities in the way societies treat young women and men. On one hand, women are still treated as subordinates in many parts of the world; they face multiple layers of discrimination; a range of interrelated challenges affect their leadership in economic, social, political, cultural and civil spheres; and those belonging to certain class and ethnicity also face compounded levels of discrimination. While on the other hand, their male peers are often seen enjoying better treatment, which further results in a higher status and an improved position in the society. This is not to say that men do not face any discrimination at all. They do, especially when it is related to ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and disability.


As we arrive at the close of the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and continue with the Beijing+20 campaign, we must highlight the 12 critical areas of concern as mentioned in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. At the same time, we are met with a crucial opportunity for the world to determine the next set of sustainable goals, reaffirm its commitments to the World Program of Action for Youth, as well as evaluate global programming in urban contexts with Habitat III.

UNEvidently, the UN SG’s MyWorld2015 survey is overwhelmingly dominated by youth respondents. About 5.2 million youth have responded out of 7.2 million people surveyed. In the survey, young women mark equality between “men and women” as the 5th or 6thpriority out of a total of 16 options. Conversely, young men in the same cohort (15-30 years), mark equality between men and women as the 14th, 15th or 16th priority. This concerning trend speaks of the dire need to engage men as partners in the fight for gender equality. Hence, campaigns such as HeForShe, MARD and #YouthForGenderEquality need further strengthening as we move towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

There should be serious discussions about engaging both women and men in the action towards obtaining gender equality. The approach must be four-pronged.

1. Increasing investment in adolescent girls’ and young women’s leadership across the board:

This is a very important step so as to assure that women are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today. This will also mean that young women are able to assert their rights as laid out in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the broader human rights framework.

2. A serious conversation about the responsibility and accountability of young men and boys:

This needs to be emphasized upon. The role of young men and boys is not only important as actors in attaining gender equality, but also as partners in creating a world that is equal if we want to achieve the goal of planet 50-50 by the year 2030.

3. Discussion on youth and gender equality including all the sexes:

With young women, young men and all others, this discussion must break stereotypes and the silos that have been created through age-old systems of patriarchy and the hegemony of masculinities embedded in social institutions including the education system, organized religion, and political and financial systems.

4. Serious effort to strengthen the life cycle of gender equality, and inter-generational partnerships on gender equality:

There is a need to create a culture of continuous dialogue and mutual understanding amongst all generations through inter-generational partnerships. In this regard, children, adolescents, youth, adults, and elders can all become champions of gender equality today.

In conclusion, I call upon all youth-led organizations, youth-led initiatives, and supporters of youth movements to seriously engage in creating a planet that is truly 50-50 by the year 2030. Young women and men need to be on the frontlines of the fight for gender equality.

ravi picAbout the Author: Ravi Karkara is a trained Social Worker with commitment to advancing human rights, gender equality, inclusion and social justice. Ravi serves as the Global Advisor on Youth + Partnership with UN-HABITAT, based in New York. He is the lead author of the groundbreaking report “Youth 21: Building the Architecture of Youth Engagement in the UN System,” by UN-Habitat, which contributed to the creation of United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth. As Global Strategic Advisor to United Nations Millennium Campaign he was instrumental in getting over 5 million youth vote in the SG’s My World 2015 survey. Currently, he is the Strategic Adviser Partnership Beijing+20 to the Deputy Executive Director, UN Women.

You must be to comment.
  1. Ra’s al-Ghul

    Why is dowry made to look like a woman’s issue, even though the majority of victims are men? Why don’t domestic violence statistics include verbal and psychological abuse at the hands of wives? Why can women usurp half of men’s properties during divorces and life savings in the name of child support and alimony get away with it? Why do courts give lighter sentences to women for the same crimes committed by men? Why do juries discriminate against men in domestic disputes? Why does an innocent man being lynched in Nagaland not become news? Why do fake cases of rape not make headlines? Why don’t articles and blogs on violence against women mention the fact that the biggest perpetrators of violence are women themselves – mothers-in-law. Why isn’t the fact that a man in India commits suicide every 6 minutes screaming headlines? Why don’t we write about fake cases of dowry by women as veciferously as we do so called women’s issues? Why are life boats reserved for women? Why are men supposed to leave their seats for women? Why do news mention deaths of ‘women and children’? Why are men obliged to earn and women given a choice? Why do women get away with false allegations of domestic abuse? Why are seats reserved for women on public transport? Why are special quotas for women in parliament and business?

    Where is equality?

  2. Monistaf

    So, you think you can fight for “Gender Equality” by focussing entirely on issues of one gender? Try to use a more appropriate term, like women’s rights, or more popularly known as feminism these days. All of the 12 points made are focussed on women’s issues. Of course, you mention that it does not mean that there are no issues on the other side of the gender divide, but apparently not worthy enough for consideration to be in the top 12.
    Women in armed conflict – The overwhelming majority of victims of extreme and inhumane violence in any armed conflict anywhere have always been men, but we are concerned more about the effects it has on women.
    Women and health – More funds for research on diseases that effect women, women have an average lifespan that is 5 years more than their male counterparts, but we need to be focussed more on their health needs.
    Violence against women – about 10% of the total violence and crime in the world is targeted towards women, but we all need to focus on eliminating violence against the demographic that is least effected by it.
    Human rights of women – because men, apparently are not human, or if they are, they “obviously” have more rights than women.
    Women in power and decision making – we need equality here, but not when it comes to workplace deaths, armed conflict, homeless people or any other place where it would be a disadvantage.

    I think some of the issues mentioned in the top 12 are legitimate and need to be addressed. Everyone has their own passions and I respect and admire your resolve to be vocal on issues that matter to you, but let us be honest about it. Call it what it is. Don’t feel compelled to disguise it under the garb of “Gender Equality”.

  3. zarina ahmed

    How do you spread awareness on equality when you do not start at the bottom of the society where inequality is rampant and all of it starts at childhood I am sure being in America you are aware of the latest developments on child abuse, paedophile rings and child pornography which is a major concern with the coming generation along with today’s youth.. how do you curb that which is one of the main cause of violence against Woman/Man/Children?…We all are aware about the reports UN Crime Trends Survey that in US registered rape cases -85,593 Brazil-41,180 in India-22,172 (2010) which makes us 3rdin rape cases in the world.
    Where as for NCRB data rape cases have doubled after the Nirbhaya Case and constantly on the rise 24,923 (2012) to 31,707 (2013) and 336% rise on child abuse 2 million children are commercial sex workers age 5 to 15..3.3 million age 15 to 18 that makes 40% of total population of commercial sex workers in India,500,000 children are forced into this trade every target a generation which has come out of childhood will not help much cause they are well aware of their rights and are responsible for their actions, choices and decision making…they have reached an age to realize what’s right/wrong..
    If awareness on equality needs to start the youth has to help with the vast majority of children…

    1. Ra’s al Ghul

      75% rape cases are false

      According to NCRB Data, there were 2,22,091 arrests related to 498A in 2013 alone, out of which 1,74,620 were men and 47,471 were women – A man is arrested every 3 minutes for dowry – 98% cases are false.

  4. Ra’s al Ghul

    From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide.

    Over 2 lakh innocent men are accused of dowry annually, more than 3 times as many men commit suicide due to harassment from women, but dowry harassment is a woman’s issue. LOL!

  5. Ra’s al Ghul

    From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide.

  6. Angela Kayekesi Chanda

    it is a well articulated issues Ravi.The main cause of all the vices we see and hear about women are as the result of traditions, culture and Religion.These three are the main contributing factors.Such conventions are held and many countries are affiliates to but so little has been done and few people know about it.Its only when both educated and uneducated,learned and unlearned,literate and illiterate come to understand the root cause of these vices and the role that each individual has to play then we can be able to create an enabling environment of safer place for all.Its far beyond ones mental social and physical aspect.Our attitudes towards our beliefs must not be the hindrance for us to do that which is noble and right in the eyes of our fellow human and the Creator.

  7. Rakesh

    Well I don’t know about this,but I saw once a video of a girl complaining about the guys with big d**k that want to help the girls and fight for them,She iresistibly wanted to move away their eyes from girls as she thought that it would solve many of the problems that girls face in today’s scenario.Keeping that in mind I’ll request all the men who ay or may not like what I’m saying but please let girls take care of it own and completely move out of the matter as they intend us to do.

  8. John

    It is true that men and women must be in the frontline to fight for gender equality

  9. farai chirinda

    Your issue of women is of paramount importance as far as i am concerned,but to tremendously get rid of this stereotype of women being in a position of being docile.there is need for en cooperating African Youths mainly into your national and international program mes.This will help in en-lighting other nations that some features that exists in terms of gender inequality were not biologically determined but socially constructed. l

  10. Ametepey Francis

    am a young boy who is interested in youth issues and currently working with youth advocate ghana as a staff. but i will be glad to be part of this changes as it is much important in my country Ghana.

  11. Mantavya Rathore

    How can i join you?
    I really want to help in bringing such a big change in our country India.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ali Qalandar

By Raju Murmu

By Yash C

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below