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To My Younger Sister Who Is Probably Going To Make The Same Career Blunder As Me

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By Snigdha Priyadarshini:

kabhi_khushi_kabhi_gham_sistersTo my younger sister who is probably going to make the same blunder as me,

Remember some years back, when we did not have any worries about our future and the thriving competition, our dreams soared so high? One day I wanted to be an astronaut, the other day a teacher or a car racer. Remember when I wanted to be a doctor? I even had my own first aid box and I would give out prescriptions to all of you.

And then came a point when I started writing poems and short stories when I was in 6th or 7th standard. And every written word was an accomplishment I would take immense pride in. And there was a little bookworm growing inside me who wanted to be a best-selling author one day.

But then 10th happened! And all the kids were talking about coaching classes and whether to take science or commerce, biology or maths, physical education or computer science. Suddenly, all the big dreams crumbled into these words. These were the options to pick from.

“Science has better scope and is advantageous,” said everyone.

So, science it was.

Not that I wasn’t given an option: ‘Doctor or engineer?’

“Engineer.”

There it ended. All those big dreams ended at this word. You know how much I loved history and literature. I could have pursued them. But no, I was just a sheep following the herd. The people around me were experienced, they knew what would be better for ‘my’ future.

And here I was sitting for those dreaded competitive exams. I could not get into IITs or NITs and that broke my heart. But luckily I got into a reputed state government college.

And when I entered this new career carved out for me, I kissed my dreams goodbye. It’s my third year at engineering, and not a day goes by when I don’t regret it.

So what if the only time I feel satisfied is when I have a pen in my hand and my imagination runs wild? So what if the novels in my shelf have taught me way more than this heavy load of engineering books?

My worth will now be judged by my C.G.P.A and there is nothing I can do about it.

And you, my little sister, are about to make the same mistake as I did by not following my dreams.

When you were a little girl, you started cooking yummy dishes and assembling the crockery like an expert. You used to watch ‘Master Chef’ wholeheartedly and download recipes from the internet and experiment on us. Of course, you have cooked a few disasters, but you never gave up! You even had your own customised apron. Until few years back, you wanted to be a chef in a five-star hotel. You used to tell me that you wanted to study hotel management. You were so passionate about it. I was so happy to see my younger sister so dedicated and focussed for her future.

What changed?

I know how our own family members and relatives slowly convinced you that hotel management is not a nice option. And other bogus rumours that you will have to work as a waiter even years after pursuing the degree. In the beginning, you paid no heed to the unsolicited advice, but then you gave in.

As you called me a few days ago, in full panic mode, asking me how to cram physics and chemistry, I knew what you were up to. You never touched the hotel management entrance preparation book I gave you. You are holding on to H.C. Verma and Arihant series as if they are Bible.

But I ask you, “Do you really want to do this?”

Do you really want to take up the very subjects that you absolutely hate?

Why?

Because you like many others are brainwashed into believing that your dreams aren’t ‘worth it’. Who gives anyone the authority to clip our dreams and take life altering decisions for us? You too will be sitting for multiple entrance exams and will rejoice when you get into a prestigious institute. But then, the bubble will burst and you will feel stranded on an island that you cannot escape from.

Don’t let the dreams in your heart be broken by the people who don’t understand them.

Believe me when I say that there are so many things that you can become apart from becoming an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer and the like.

There is still time to decide. Don’t jump in just because the world wants you to do so. I cannot assure you stability in any career path, but I can assure you satisfaction and happiness if you take up something you love.

I am no one to decide for you, but I just sincerely hope you don’t give up your dreams.

With all the love,
Your concerned elder sister.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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
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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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