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‘I Voted For Hillary Because Her Vision For The Country Was Bigger Than Her Flaws’

By Whitney Johnson:

Before this election, I honestly did not know too much about Hillary Rodham Clinton. I knew the facts: trailblazing first lady, Senator of New York, Secretary of State plagued by Benghazi scandal. While at Catholic University, as the email scandal unfolded, I heard echoes of disapproval from my peers: corrupt, dishonest, elitist. All this negativity surrounding her sparked my research. I was fascinated by all the attacks, but wanted to dig a little deeper and give her a chance before drawing conclusions. More importantly, I wanted to get a better picture of her story, of her history.

I looked at her extensive resume, how she has fought for children and families, women’s rights, minorities, the working class, and the values of this country. I looked at her middle class background, her political involvement in college, and her controversial views as first lady. I couldn’t help but be moved by all the battles she has fought, both personal and political, her fight for what she believes in despite possible backlash. I also would be lying if I said that electing the first woman president wasn’t important to me. Looking up to the first woman president, someone that looks like you, sends a very important message to women and young girls. I didn’t vote for Hillary merely because Trump was a disastrous alternative. I voted for her because her vision for and love of this country were bigger than her flaws.

Election night and the next day were filled with many emotions. I couldn’t believe my eyes as she lost one battleground state after another. I was texting my friends in shock and disbelief: how could Trump be winning? At one point I couldn’t even look at the TV screen anymore and tried to go to bed, hoping to wake up to a Clinton presidency. I felt the sadness, the unexpected tears, the anger, and the disappointment that America chose a racist, sexist, xenophobic billionaire to be the next president of the United States. The night and my anxiety dragged on and before I knew it, it was morning. I heard my mom on the verge of tears as she was getting dressed. On my way to work I looked at the women on the bus and wondered if they felt the same sadness. At the office, my colleagues and I watched Hillary’s concession speech in complete silence. I felt her pain and her apology. I felt angry and sad that Hillary, who has served others for more than 25 years, fighting for a fairer, more inclusive America lost to Donald Trump, a billionaire who has boasted about sexual harassment and has relentlessly targeted minorities throughout his campaign.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concedes the presidential election as (L-R) Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton, Bill Clinton, Tim Kaine and Anne Holton listen at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concedes the presidential election as (L-R) Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton, Bill Clinton, Tim Kaine and Anne Holton listen at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I am still having a hard time accepting his presidency and I refuse to be complacent. My friends and I plan to protest on inauguration day and march for women, minorities, and LGBTQ people in DC. Looking forward, I hope that Donald Trump listens to the protests igniting around the country and will work to unite Americans after leading such a divisive, hate-filled campaign.

Despite his negative campaign, many young people viewed Trump as their messenger, one who would overthrow the system, a system deemed corrupt and bureaucratic. Unlike Clinton, he was an outsider. He promised jobs which resonated well with lots of young people struggling to live on their own (Flaccus). He tapped into their frustration and led an unprecedented political campaign. His words were unconventional and ruthless and many found that refreshing.

On the other side, several viewed his rhetoric as dangerous, vowing to vote for anyone but him. While numerous young voters supported Bernie in the primaries, they rallied behind Hillary because the alternative was far worse. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) 55% of 18-to-29 year-olds voted for Hillary, 37% voted for Trump, and 8% voted for a third-party candidate (“An Estimated”). CIRCLE researchers found that young voters tend to focus more on a candidate’s vision rather than personality (Richmond, et al.). Even though many young voters disliked Hillary, they supported her progressive agenda and message.

After this election, I see more than ever how important it is to vote. We are the future and our voices are important. While I may not agree with Hillary on everything, and despite her mistakes, I am so proud to have voted for this ‘nasty’ woman. Her voice and mission inspired me to vote and to keep fighting, despite the odds. If this election taught me anything, it is that if I truly believe in something, I have to do something about it.

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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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