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6 Things A Millennial Would Like The Older Generation To Know

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By Syed Akrama:

1. God has not appointed you as watchmen of religion.

India is a land of many religions and we take it pretty seriously. Whatever religion you follow, your god would want you to follow the path instructed by your religion and abide by its preaching. It does not ask you to point fingers at other religions and it certainly doesn’t ask you to be the security force. God is not a weakened force that it will require humans to ‘safeguard’ them. If you believe God is the creator of this universe, then you should also believe that God is capable to defend itself. Praise and promote your religion by being a good ambassador for it, not by being a symbol of hatred for others.

2. Engineering and MBA are not the only options. Stop pushing your children into dark pits.

It’s okay if your kid can’t crack the engineering entrance exam or if they don’t want to pursue MBA. Please eradicate the thought from your mind that engineering is a safe choice. We have so many great institutes for engineering but unfortunately we have an alarmingly high number of institutions which are of low standards.

It’s easy to get admission into a private college if you are willing to empty your pocket but there is a major difference between education and admission. Your child might be getting a degree but they’re not getting the education required.

Don’t follow the herd mentality. Ask your kids what they want to pursue and it’s okay if they come up with something completely unorthodox because every invention was once an impossible idea. So if your kids want to be a painter, dancer, writer, driver or something else, then let them be. Education in India has become one of the biggest businesses and it’s sad that we don’t consider our students as future resources but we look at them as current consumers.

3. Freedom of expression has a dual path.

We often shout aloud about freedom of expression (FOE) in this country. Someone makes a comment and others oppose it. People demand apologies, punishment, strict legal and administrative actions to be taken against each other and thus the debate of FOE hits the roof. People who make comments or remarks about something call it their freedom of expression and when they are opposed, they call it suppression of their freedom of expression.

What I’m saying is that if you have a right to express anything then the people who are opposing you also have the right to express their mindsets and their opinions. You cannot label this as a suppression of your rights because you are getting the freedom to express yourself. You should be open to receiving positive and negative feedback and be open to debating about it.

Suppression of freedom of expression will be when you’ll not be allowed to put your views forward and when even before speaking or writing something you’ll be prohibited from doing so. So don’t use it as a false shield if you are not capable of listening to harsh feedback and only capable of pointing fingers.

4. Instead of putting limitations on girls, start asking boys to change.

Don’t ask girls to not do something, start asking boys to behave. We speak about gender equality yet we instruct our daughters and sisters to be back home early and to dress ‘appropriately’. We don’t ask our sons and brothers to not roam late or to not do something. Why? Because we are a bunch of hypocrites and we think that there are some things that boys can never stop doing.

We have multiple traditions of females covering up, be it a burqa, ghoonghat or dupatta wrapped around your head and face to ‘protect’ themselves from the sight of unknown men. People will argue that it’s our culture, tradition and morality. I respect the cultures and moral values but do you ever think why only females are supposed to do so? Why are you asking a woman to cover up? Just because other men will stare at her or look at her? Why don’t you teach men to not stare at girls? Why don’t you ever ask men to cover their eyes so that they won’t have to look at other women? Are you not being biased here? Are you not suggesting the inferiority of women here? Yes, you are and this is what we need to change. We need to create a society in which women can be rest assured about their safety and in which they are not stopped from doing something.

4. Virginity is overrated in India.

In India, virginity is the ultimate certificate of ‘sanskaar’. It is considered that if you are a virgin then you are ‘pure’. We can tolerate our boys not being virgins because “men will be men” but if a girl is not a virgin before marriage then everyone loses their minds and we can’t just tolerate such type of ‘Western culture’. Some guys even make it a point to ask women about their virginity before marrying them. It’s a major obstruction in fixing marriages if people somehow find out that the girl is ‘apavitra’ (not a virgin).

What changes if someone has sex before marriage and how exactly do you measure purity? What exactly is this purity?

Some girls also make it a prestige issue and they focus on ‘saving’ their virginity. Being physical with someone is completely a matter of personal choice and nobody has any right to force or question somebody about it. Moreover, it doesn’t matter whether you are a virgin or not. If you think you want to have sex, then it’s okay and if you think you are not yet ready or don’t want sex, then it’s also okay. It’s just sex and marriage is not necessary for sex. So don’t create a hoopla over something which is highly overrated.

5. Religion and caste should not be a hurdle in love.

Nothing changes if a person you love is from a different religion or caste. Religion and caste are assigned by default and they do not change who you are as a person. This is just a method to create division because many of us love to argue about issues which shouldn’t even be on the list. This should not even be a matter to discuss. We should be open-minded to accept the fact that it is not mandatory to fall in love with someone of our own religion and caste. Period.

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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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