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9 Individuals Who’re Shaping The Future Of Work For Indian Millennials

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ILO logoEditor’s Note:With #FutureOfWork, the International Labour Organization India and Youth Ki Awaaz are coming together to explore the spectrum of issues that affect young people's careers and work lives. Join the conversation! 

Last Monday ended on a note when I felt both exhausted and content with work. What followed next was an overwhelming realization – I was a month away from completing 2 and half years at my first job. Even completing a year was a big deal. I remember getting mixed reactions ranging from “Wow, you lasted a year at one place” to “Wow, now that you have worked for a year at one place, you should look at diversifying your experience”.

Over the last 2 years, my parents’ earnest attempts at understanding my work – digital advocacy campaigns and how crowdsourcing works – has been amusing, to say the least. I continue to ‘justify’ that my work is ‘real’ and often wish that I could talk about my aspirations, and find answers for my challenges. And I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way.

I am one of the 780 million Indians who is under 35 – the average Indian who spends over 2,000 hours a year working. Yet, there is so little is discussed about our hidden struggles, career aspirations and challenges. We ourselves hardly talk about our work lives!

To change exactly this and shape the conversation on the #FutureOfWork for Indian millennials, Youth Ki Awaaz and International Labour Organisation (ILO India) are hosting an event this Saturday, 21st January at 11 am at antiSocial Hauz Khas Village, Delhi. With the idea to encourage conversations around why we need to talk about how ‘work’ and the ‘workplace’ is evolving – join in and hear these 9 amazing individuals who are changing the face of ‘work’ for Indian millennials.

1. Gayatri Buragohain, Founder – Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT)

By Breaking the stereotype that ‘girls are not innately gifted at science and math’ Gayatri, Founder of Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT), is creating access to careers in STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) for girls and young women. She also works to enhance their awareness, interest, and participation in technology.



2. Sarvesh Agrawal, Founder – Internshala

For any young person, internships are a stepping stone to the world of employment. With Internshala, Sarvesh Agrawal is changing the ‘ad-hoc culture’ surrounding internships, and working towards creating meaningful internships for both employers and young aspirants. Through the Internshala platform, various companies can hire interns. In addition to this, the portal also offers counselling, and short courses on a range of things – from cover-letter writing to resume building.


3. Karuna Nundy, Advocate – Supreme Court of India

A Supreme Court advocate, Karuna Nundy has fought landmark cases and is a powerful voice in human rights litigation. From talking about under-representation of women as senior advocates in Indian courts, to sexism and sexual harassment at the workplace – Karuna has played an active role in advocating for gender justice.



4. Apurv Agrawal, Founder – Squadrun

Can a mobile gaming app offer businesses cost-efficient operational solutions? Apurv Agrawal, Co-Founder of Squadrun, has effectively tapped technology to solve a problem and build a business! Innovation in technology has lead to ease of business but there is a lot more to entrepreneurship than how ‘starting-up’ is romanticized – from building a product that people love to building a team that shares your vision.


5. Nipun Malhotra, Co-founder – The Nipman Foundation

As the Co-Founder of The Nipman Foundation, Nipun supports people with disabilities to get access to wheelchairs and easy financing so that they can lead an independent life. In addition to this, advocating for equal opportunity and employment, the foundation recognizes companies and institutions that promote employment of people with disabilities, and also remove all physical and attitudinal barriers.


6. Saloni Malhotra, Founder – DesiCrew

Bridging the urban-rural gap through employment, with DesiCrew, Saloni, a young entrepreneur, took the ‘jobs to the people’ instead of ‘people to the jobs’. Integrating technology with changing business models, DesiCrew is more than just a BPO, and is helping create meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities.



7. Geeta, Driver – Sakha Consulting Wings

Geeta was married into a joint family at the age of 17. Lacking domestic support, she decided to ensure that her children got the best possible education. After training with the Azad foundation, Geeta worked as a driver with a client for two years, before joining Sakha Consulting Wings. Today, she has successfully completed a year as a commercial driver with Sakha.

8. Ashwaq Masoodi, Journalist – Mint

Working with the Mint for the last 3.5 years, Ashwaq has been actively covering gender and related issues. Last year, she received the Society of Publishers in Asia award for her series on human trafficking. This year, she received the Ramnath Goenka award for her stories on aspirations of young people in India.



9. Sher Verick (Deputy Director of the ILO Country Office for India and Decent Work Team for South Asia)

Researching the changing patterns of female employment in developing nations, Sher has actively spoken about the under-representation of women in India’s labour force. Recently, he also edited a book titled “Transformation of Women at Work in Asia: An Unfinished Development Agenda” that examines the drivers of and barriers to participation of women in the Asian labour market.

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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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