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9 Step Guide On How To Protest Against A President: USA Edition

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January 20, 2017 marks the day that a billionaire businessman with a history of sexual misconduct and a tendency for manterrupting has been made President of the United States. It’s enough to make your blood boil, isn’t it? But don’t get angry, get organised. And that’s exactly what women in the USA are doing, following the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the country’s 45th President.

Looking at everything that has happened since Trump was named president-elect, here’s a handy guide to addressing the ableist, homophobic, patriarchal platform on which he stands. And it’s something that many in other countries can use, if they foresee a similar threat to their democratic values:

Step 1: Know Your Enemy

There are various fronts on which the Trump presidency will be a massive blow to women’s rights. For one thing, he plans to defund Planned Parenthood, which has been providing healthcare to low-income men and women, as well as abortion services. But wait, there’s more. His administration plans to cut funds for initiatives for civil rights and violence against women too. Americans have identified these and other problems, and have called for a massive Women’s March on Washington, this Saturday, Jan 21, to “send a bold message […] that women’s rights are human rights.

Step 2: Get Transport On Your Side

Metro services in Washington are opening two hours earlier on Jan 21, to facilitate roughly 200,000 people showing up for the march.

But because not everyone can use public transport, or even be physically present for the march, explore other ways to participate. Like the the virtual march, organised by disability rights activist Sonya Huber, for those with chronic illnesses.

Step 3: Get Some Kick Ass People On Board

Among the performers at WMW are gender-shattering musician and “Hidden Figures” actor Janelle Monae, as well as queer icons Emily Saliers and Amy Ray of The Indigo Girls.

A list of speakers released by WMW includes American feminist stalwart Gloria Steinem and former Black Panther activist Angela Davis.

And if you thought members of the film fraternity weren’t making good on their disdain for Trump, actor Scarlett Johansson, and anti-gun violence advocate and director Michael Moore will also be present. We could go on and on about those in attendance, but you’ll see ‘em all soon enough!

Step 4: Keep Your Posters Ready!

Step 5: Be Intersectional

The mission statement released by the WMW organisers reads: “we support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities.” This means that the march will see the convergence of the many social justice movements that have flowered in America, from Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ rights. But that’s not all. The march has already declared its support for sex workers, and will see participations from over 45,000 people with disabilities.

And we’re not going to say anything about Trump’s attitude towards PWDs, because the Devil who wears Prada says it best:

Step 6: Tell EVERYONE

From the get go, the WMW has created a massive buzz on social media, which today reached a crescendo, as people prepare for Saturday:

Oh, and did we mention WMW chapters have opened up in 57 other countries, including Israel, Kenya, Peru and Georgia?

Step 7: Make Sure Your Press Puts Up An Honest Fight!

In an open letter to Trump, the American Press Corps has stated that it will “set higher standards for [itself] than ever before” for the duration of his presidency. Among several things, it has promised to scrutinise his every move, hold him accountable, and – knowing his penchant for being in the public eye – will regulate just how much airtime is spent on him and his associates. After all, the press is the fourth pillar of government, isn’t it?

Step 8: Occupy The Space That He Represents

Following the less-than-favourable outcome of the 2016 Presidential elections, demonstrators flooded around Trump Tower to say that “the racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric of Trump’s campaign would not become a new normal.”

And last night, veteran actor Robert De Niro, pop icon Cher, and feminist actor-director Mark Ruffalo joined thousands of New Yorkers to register their protest.

Step 9: Consistency Counts

It helps when detractors of a fascist leader are able to reach out to millions of viewers night after night, like the cast of comedy sketch show SNL, who have consistently poked fun at and criticised Trump.

Even Alec Baldwin did his famous Trump impressions at the rally last night, asking New Yorkers if they would fight, and have 100 days of resistance, and asking them to start teaching their children to stay woke about the situation.

Elton John, Moby, R Kelly and many other celebrities have taken the bold stand by out and out refusing to participate in any Trump events.

And all of this is what the U.S.A., and the rest of the world, needs right now – to drive home the message that we will not back down.

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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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