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Forget Google Doodles, This 17-Year-Old Draws To Change The World

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By Kaanchi Chopra:

I have always believed that art is the strongest and the best medium for expressing my thoughts. Over the years, it has widened my horizon and converted my dreams into a reality. Apart from making me creative, it has made me socially aware and sensitive.

It bewilders me how all of us are surrounded by extremely intelligent and talented people who have the power to change the world yet they fail to do anything good for our society.
While I was pondering over the same thought the other day, the word ‘artivism’ originated in my mind. A combination of 2 most meaningful words for me – art and activism.

Since then I have strived to make an impact with my art, every artwork of mine has a moral, some meaning and a message linked to it. It’s aimed to push for social change and awareness.

End Acid Attacks

Acid Attack is the most heinous crime against women. This social evil is something I’m honestly concerned about. I had been reading a lot about the victims and their survival stories when this idea struck me.

This is a series of illustrations with the sole purpose of changing the mindset of how the general public looks at acid attack survivors and even how they look at themselves. In my opinion, scars and bruises on the bodies of the survivors should not be a sight of pity instead they should be considered beautiful. Survivors should not feel insecure about their appearance but should sense a feeling of pride because they survived the inhumane incident. I’ve doodled the various parts which are disfigured because these floral patterns signify the beauty of their face and soul. Their marks, scars and bruises are nothing but doodles on their bodies – an everlasting impression of their courage and strength.

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Brown And Proud

“Don’t judge me by my colour, I am not paint. Your institutionalised shades of beauty shan’t sell me fairness creams.The melanin in me isn’t the result of a dysfunctional gene. If you think I give a dime about the hue I am, brown or black or yellow, mustard honey or ochre mellow, colour no. 455 shade 3. Look at the Earth beneath your feet, I’m in good company the polite folk, call me dusky.” – Priyal Thakkar.

These clever words imbibed a sense of oneness in me. I’ve grown up dark-skinned in a colour-conscious land and like many others, I faced colour discrimination from a tender age. Discrimination must not go unchallenged. It was then when I made this drawing on the occasion of United Nation’s Zero Discrimination Day to spread and support diversity, tolerance and inclusion.This work has been appreciated by UNAIDS.

The reason why I’ve doodled this on a transparent sheet is because it allows me to hold up my drawing and my views in front of various backgrounds depicting those numerous areas where the ‘fair and lovely’ theme still runs deeply in our society.

Poverty

Poverty is probably the most widespread problem in our country. I made this doodle for UNFAO’s World Food Day. Completely hand made, this doodle is a complete overview of the situation of poor people, especially in India. The left side depicts the vicious cycle they’re trapped in, the facts and figures and the cause-effect relations which govern poverty. The central two characters represent the helpless Indian farmers who face so many problems on a daily basis, apart from poverty. FAO acts as a dove and pricks out the problems and worries of the farmers by various methods and government policies which are shown on the right side.

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Mental Health

I made this illustration to spread awareness about the seriousness and enormity of mental illness. Often people aren’t ready to accept that they are disturbed and need immediate medical help. Multiple Personality Disorder is a disorder characterised by the appearance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states that alternately control a person’s behaviour, accompanied by memory impairment.

Inspired by Steve Cutts, this sketch is an amalgamation of all the personalities that reside in one soul. It illustrates those diverse and unpredictable emotions trapped inside an individual suffering from MPD. This sketch asks people to accept their disorder and fight against it instead of denying it and getting affected even more.

mental health

Blind Faith In Peace

I initially started drawing this to propagate peace between Hindu and Muslim communities but ended up making something deeper. It depicts that all religions are equal and believe in only one thing – peace. This poster encourages people to have blind faith in peace and not on their respective religions. People should preach tranquility in order to live in a safer and happier world.

peace

Body Shaming

Most of us are potential victims of ‘body shaming’ – the widespread phenomenon of receiving cruel feedback when our bodies don’t meet the unreal beauty standards of our time.
We spend our time lost in self-critical thoughts, despising our body and comparing ourselves unfavorably to others.

Let us make each other realise that fat, tall, short, thin are not insults but just characteristics. A number on the weighing machine cannot determine our worth. Losing weight is not our life’s work and counting calories is not the call of our soul.

Andrea Watcher, a psychotherapist and author says – “I have learned that changing my body will not make me feel loved, loving myself will. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance and all women and men have the right to accept their body. The shame is on the ones who use that to attack their self esteem.”

body shaming

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  1. Rekha Chopra

    Very impressed by artivism ! Keep the good work going Kaanchi !

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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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