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10 Tweets That Tell Us How Enormously Wrong Things Are, Even Though We’re In 2016!

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By Lipi Mehta

When Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau was asked why it was important to him that his cabinet was ‘gender balanced’, he smiled and replied, “Because it’s 2015!” Hell yeah, no further explanations needed. It’s ridiculous now that we think of it, that such a question even had to be asked. But let’s face it – it’s 2016 and such questions will be asked this year too. It’s 2016 and we still don’t have basic equal rights across the world and many more Trudeaus might need to make many more such statements before we can see change happening across the world. Yes, of course, there are a few things that make the optimist in us believe that this year will be better than the last, but we can’t ignore how much more still needs to be done.

A Twitter trend, #Its2016AndWeStillDon’t, revealed just that. While many (and I mean MANY) tweets were about also about how One Direction and its members can be ‘real’ (Pls Liam, stop now), and how many of us still haven’t received a hug from Justin Bieber (the pain is real), there were some others that specifically caught my attention. Read them here and you’ll know how it really, really sucks that we’re in 2016, but have a long way to go.

1. All of these things.

2. I never ask for it.

In India, a woman faces sexual violence every 20 minutes. And it’s utterly shameful that this is one of the reasons why women are hesitant to report it.

3. It’s abominable that this still happens.

A rapist causes rape. Not anyone’s clothes or appearance or the time of day or anything else. Take a look at some of the horrifying things victim-blamers have said. Still need more reason to believe that we need to stop this now?

4. Dammit, yes.

According to WHO, 1 out of 4 people in the world are likely to be affected by a mental health issue at some point of time in their lives. Despite this, we still need someone to be affected with a physical disease for them to be taken seriously. (Read: I Wish I Had A Physical Illness Instead, So People Would Believe I Was Unwell)

5. Let’s not be dismissive of this, please.

Globally, an estimated 350 million people suffer from depression. Let’s not brush it away as ‘just a phase’ or ‘a bad day’. It’s important that we know what it is and how it can affect us or someone we care about. Here’s a 5-minute guide to understanding depression and how to deal with it.

6. Body shaming is real.

Accepting people for who they are as people, and not based on how they look – of course, that’s how it should be, but really not how it is. Societal norms and stigma too, force an individual to try and ‘be’ or ‘look’ a certain way and that’s just… no. (Read: I Will Use The Word ‘Fat’ Without Feeling Sorry, But Will Society Let Me?)

7. Really heartbreaking.

We still live in a world where kids are forced to adhere to gender norms when it’s really the time they should be free to explore their sexuality, and embrace who they are. Take for instance the story of trans teen Shivy, who was forced to be a ‘proper girl’ by his parents. And the worst part? This has even forced many young people to commit suicide.

8. You’ll need a minute to take this in.

In India, actors like Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra have recently spoken out against this but it’s thoroughly upsetting how we don’t have a clear answer to when women and girls across the world will have equal opportunities. To begin with, should we first embrace ‘feminism‘ instead of thinking it’s a bad word?

9. Sometimes we don’t even realise that this still happens.

Apart from sanitary pads still being taxed, let’s take a step back and acknowledge the pervasive stigma that still exists when it comes to menstruation. However, with people across genders taking it upon themselves to smash the taboos and challenge patriarchy, hope is definitely alive.

10. And to encapsulate, that’s that.

How long till we realise that those who are ‘different’ are actually just who they are? And acceptance is just so much better than putting people in boxes, isn’t it? (Read:‘I May Be Female, Asian, Homosexual, But I’m Also Things Stereotypes Can’t Capture’)

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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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