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“Dear PM, We Cannot And Will Not Continue To Suffer The Way That We Do”

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To
Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India

Subject: Ensure Labour Rights and Stop Social Exclusion

Dear Prime Minister,

We are the member organisations of National Confederation of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) writing this letter to bring to your attention the situation of labour, which has gone worse in India in the recent years.

The recent labour and economic policies of government have brought more hardships on the workers by withdrawing their established democratic rights and giving endless concession to industrialists making them unaccountable to the spirit of our constitution. The present system of governance has made labourer and working class vulnerable and become insensitive to our agony and sufferings, though the wealth of the nation was built on the theft of their land and from their work in the farms, mines, factories, kitchens and laundries of the rich. We cannot and will not continue to suffer the way that we do. We cannot and will not allow their voices to be stifled. The time has come for the working class to be heard. The time for politicians to talk for and about labour while they make deals with the capitalists is over. The time has come for politicians to talk to the labourer and to talk to the working class openly and honestly and respectfully so that we can, together, ensure that there is a place for everyone in this society and in this state.

Picture by Amit Kumar/ for representational pyrpose only
Picture by Amit Kumar/ for representational purpose only

On the occasion of International Labour Day, we demand your government to intervene to take the following actions for ensuring the rights and dignity of working class in India.

1. Contract labour and casual labour system should be abolished.

2. Defend and secure all democratic rights of the workers i.e – a) freedom of association, b) freedom of assembly, c) freedom of expression, d) right to strike, e) right to work, f) right to social security, etc.

3. Minimum wage should be raised to a decent living wage, e.g Rs 15000/- per month in industrial areas.

4. The labour department should ensure that every work site has an organization of the workers and that the labour laws are strictly implemented.

5. The central government must allocate and strictly ensure 5% GDP for the welfare of around 50 crores of unorganized and informal workers of the country.

6. Secure ownership of means of production/service for the workers like making rickshaw-pullers owner of their rickshaw, and similar programmes to eliminate the dichotomy between labour and ownership of means of production/service at one stroke.

7. Accountability should be fixed for labour department to reach out to all the unorganized sector workers for the social security schemes.

8. The government must ensure the rights to vote of migrant workers in their living areas. Interstate migration laws should be implemented for facilities to the migrant workers. Labour call centres and migrant workers support centres should be established.

9. Massive skill development programme under the National Skill Development Mission and other schemes to cover all rural SCs and STs who cannot be given land in spite of best efforts. Other rural labourers, sanitation labourers and urban unorganized labourers and others in traditional occupation to equip them to achieve occupational diversification; upward mobility and secure jobs in the market on employment or self employment basis.

We request you to consider these matters as most urgent and take appropriate action to protect the workers and labourer from the oppressive dominant socio-economic system. Any actions on these demands would promote justice, equity and protect rights of labourer.

Thank you for considering our recommendations and demands. We would appreciate learning about any steps that you take in this regard.
Sincerely yours,

Ashok Bharti
Chairman
NACDOR

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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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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