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Wanted: Speech Writer (And A History Lesson) For Mira Rajput

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The recent controversy  around Mrs. Shahid Kapoor’s statements at a Women’s Day event doesn’t seem to be dying down. I feel it did less harm and more good to the couple, giving Mira Rajput much-needed public attention.

She has  suddenly has become the topic of dining room discussions and topics of many blogs and news stories, finally getting an identity of her own, although for the wrong reasons.

But Mira, I would not blame you entirely. A lot of the responsibility rests on the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) that planned that event. I completely fail to see the rational behind this choice of speaker.

I mean what did you think Mira would talk about on International Women’s Day. What achievements does she have as a woman? Are we celebrating women who get married at 21 or the art of being parcelled from one rich household to another?

From what she said, I could barely decipher a credible academic, professional or otherwise individual achievement to boast of.

If you nominate your household help to talk about India’s mission to mars in an international gathering, would the fault lie with your wrong choice or the inability of speaker to talk sense?

Although being rich and ignorant can’t be a valid excuse, I would not say I was highly disappointed by her statement. I mean what can you expect from a 21-year-old girl born in to an affluent family and arranged into marriage to a Bollywood dreamland?

But then again, at least one can be expected to have the common sense to research a bit, especially when you are invited to speak on a public platform, or hire a speech writer – something that Mira could obviously afford.

I can’t stop admiring Mira’s confidence in being so frivolously ignorant of the realities of women in India and to display that in public.

There is a whole lot of difference in people who are born with confidence and those who earn it with time and through tough experiences. Mira might find feminists as ‘feminazis’. I would like to know where she has encountered these feminazis who were responsible for the rampant, illogical killing of men.

It is the hard work and incessant struggle of these so-called ‘feminazis’ that enables you to speak on a public platform, to have your opinion and exercise your choices. As the mother of daughter, you should be grateful to these feminazis who have given you the confidence to celebrate a girl child, and opened up the access to equal opportunities, with no discrimination, for your daughter.

Show some gratitude for the confidence you have inherited in being a women, because this was a luxury to most many years back.

I am really glad that you are a proud homemaker and have found someone who understands you in every other way including financially. But not everyone has that chance to be supported to lead a lavish life.

Being a homemaker has long been the world’s most thankless job, with no appreciation or recognition. A girl in our society struggles from the time of her birth. She is fed with lessons on how to accommodate, adjust and bow down to male dominance.

Only the face of subjugation keeps changing, from father, to brother, to boyfriend, husband, in-laws. Women all around the globe are working hard, some to make ends meet, some to support their spouses, some for creating their identity and some for self respect.

In a country with 1.3 billion (census 2011), comprising 48.5% females, we have lower levels of women’s workforce participation than many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. According to a 2013 World Bank study, only 27% of the female population aged over 15 is working in India, out of which nearly 70% would be employed in agricultural labours.

Do you really think these women work for fun?  We seldom realize the toil of the common people to make ends meet, but it is not rocket science to look around and see the disparities in access to opportunities and resources among Indians.

Life is not a bed of roses for all women who go out to work.

After all it’s your choice. I know a lot of upper class, rich women, most of them might be in your actress sisterhood, who are busy socializing and leave their children with domestic help. Why are they not part of your puppy love theory?

I am happy for your convenient arranged marriage in a happy-go-lucky situation, but don’t you see that to some extent your happiness lies in your ‘out of choice’ submission and lack of aspirations?

Granted that that is none of my concern, but if you don’t expect to be judged for marrying at 21, and having a baby at 22 or not having a career, other women also expect respect for their choices.

If your dependence on your husband’s money doesn’t belittle you, then how can I be judged for working hard?

I am glad women are taking risks and moving out of comfort zones challenging male domination.

I have heard, Mira, that you have excellent command over the English language. If that is true, I am sure you must be familiar with the word ‘solidarity’.

I’m not sure if celebrations and speeches at International Women’s Day will uplift and inspire women but yes, solidarity and respecting others’ choices will. We do not need celebrity endorsements for women’s rights, but showing compassion and solidarity is the least you can do.

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  1. Sayantani Sinha

    The hosts should have to select the chief guest wisely…mira rajput is not a role model to the society she is the spoit daughter of rich dad and parcelled to bollywood dreamland by marriage at bare age of 21

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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.

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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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