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J.K. Rowling Changed My Life With Harry Potter, Now She’s Kicking Ass On Twitter!

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By Lipi Mehta

15 years ago, my sister handed me a book with a red cover which had a train and a bespectacled boy on it. The title read, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. She put it in my hands and said the two words that would change my life forever: “Read it.” At age 10, I was hooked. Over the years, I have re-read the entire Harry Potter series and found strength and new meaning in J. K. Rowling’s writing. Her characters aren’t afraid of accepting themselves and more importantly, many of them push each other to be better friends, more courageous human beings. I have learned some of my life’s biggest lessons from Harry Potter and needless to say, I was beyond excited in 2011 when Rowling joined Twitter and gave me (and the world!) a deeper insight into who she is as a person; into who created these characters and stories in the first place. In the last few years, she has become more and more active on the social media platform and taken a stand on diverse issues such as the Scottish independence referendum and oppression against refugees, and spoken out against the institutionalisation of children through her charity, Lumos.

Here are 10 instances where Rowling’s has stood up for equal rights and proven that one doesn’t become the world’s most beloved writer just like that!

1. When she proudly stated that the world’s most powerful wizard was gay and stood up for LGBT+ rights.

And this is what she said when a fan mentioned that she couldn’t somehow ’see’ Dumbledore as being gay.

2. When she had to explain how Harry living in a ’cupboard under the stairs’ didn’t mean that she thought it was a ‘practical solution’… but she did it anyway.

3. All the work that she does against the institutionalisation of children through her charity, Lumos.

(And this heartbreaking tweet.)

4. When she shared this photo of people trying to ‘free’ Dobby in the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

At various instances, Dobby and the other house elves in the Harry Potter series have been regarded as what comes closest to slavery in the wizarding world. Readers’ unity against the oppression of house elves gives us hope of how we have it in us to unite against the ill-treatment of minorities.


5. When she won this match fair and square AND silenced sexism…without even using the Imperius Curse.

Serena Williams’s victory at Wimbledon 2015 was accompanied by a lot of disturbing ‘criticism’ regarding her body type and complexion. It was a global example of the deeply rooted misogyny inside us that looks at how a woman looks and talks, much before looking at her capabilities. This tweet by Rowling was retweeted a staggering 94 thousand times and took a ferocious stand for women’s rights everywhere.

Also, go Serena Williams! 

serena williams


6. Earlier this year, someone tweeted this:

Rowling looked at the bigger picture and in one tweet, she tackled online abuse as a whole, suggesting just how pervasive it is.

A fan asked her why she would even ‘dignify that thing with a comment’, to which she responded:

7. The time she sent a powerful response to Hagar El-Saeed, who said that people laugh at her when she says she is a writer.

8. On the debate over the cultural boycott in Israel

Last month, Rowling took a stand against the cultural boycott in Israel, signing a letter by The Guardian, stating that, “At a time when the stigmatisation of religions and ethnicities seems to be on the rise, […] cultural boycotts are divisive, discriminatory and counter-productive.” Many fans questioned this stand and said that “Harry wouldn’t approve”. She wrote a powerful response to this stating that in the last book, Harry goes against his instinct of rushing into action, against his natural inclination to fight, and has to pause and assess how the war really can be won – just like in Israel, “It satisfies the human urge to do something, anything, in the face of horrific human suffering,” but that might not be a long-term solution. Read her full statement here.


9. On cyber bullying

She shared a poem by Musa Okwonga on cyber bullying, to which a fan said that “Bullies are kinda like dementors. Just sit back and let them starve to death.” Rowling replied to this with a two-part response on why silence is not the way forward:

10. And finally, when she had this adorable conversation with Shedd Aquarium and helped name this orphaned otter!

Thank you, J. K. Rowling for being proof of how much goodness exists in this world!

I think it’s time to revisit the shelf where magic happens and see what else Rowling has in store for us!

harry potter series bookshelf
Lumos, let there be light.

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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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