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May the best team win…

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The moment people hear about an India-Pakistan cricket match, blood starts gushing through their veins. Cricket freaks across the globe have their hearts pounding in their chests. Work gets sidelined, with emails piling on at a rate of knots in mailboxes, and all of us are there, with our eyes glued to the TV screens, desperately waiting for a miracle to occur out of nowhere. Every time Virat hits the ball all the way to the fence, the entire nation erupts in jubilation. The entire nation is there, hopping and jumping in excitement. There’s anticipation wherever you look.

The two countries have a lot in common, right from food to culture to history.  Our erstwhile colonial masters spun a web that left everyone fuming. Today, Political tensions between the two neighbours have been fluctuating quite a bit. Almost every second day, skirmishes along the Line Of Control (LOC) engulf the news channels. The Kashmir issue has been hanging there, staring its way into oblivion since ages. The relationship between the two nations has been far more complicated and complex than a trigonometric equation.

Encounters between two of the biggest arch-rivals have excited me ever since I was a child. Cricket was something that brought all of us together, under one umbrella. I remember when Pakistan toured India in 2007. A total of five One-Day International (ODI) matches followed by three Test matches were played. The Indians managed to overpower their opponents in both the formats. Saurav Ganguly scored an emphatic double century at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore in the third test match of the series.  It was a drawn game, and the Indians ended up clinching the series 1-0 courtesy of a fine victory at Delhi in the first test.

Yuvraj Singh’s exploits with the willow in the limited overs format allowed hosts to cruise to a comfortable series victory (3-2) in the ODIs as well. Saurav Ganguly had piled on more than 500 runs in the test series and was named the player of the series.  Yuvraj Singh was named the Player of the Series in the ODIs. The Indians may have won both the series, but peace and harmony remained the biggest of winners.

Back in the 1970’s, when India played against Pakistan, it felt like ‘war’ (that is what my father called it). If India lost a game against Pakistan in those days, people would go into a state of mourning. Many felt Pakistanis were stronger (because they ate meat). Today, the Indian population is one of the largest consumers of fish and mutton. Today, the rivalry between the two nations has matured by leaps and bounds.  Today, an encounter between India and Pakistan on the cricket field is no longer considered a ‘war’. It’s just a game, a really important one at that, but just a game.

June 4, 2017, would play a witness to another epic battle between the two arch-rivals, this time in Edgbaston. I’ve seen countless matches between India and Pakistan over the years, but have rarely seen one where one team starts as an overwhelming favourite as the other. The Indians would go into this match as clear favourites

An India-Pakistan encounter has always had a familiar narrative. It has been the battle to watch out for. It’s always been a battle between India’s batsmen and the Pakistani pace battery. The Pakistanis have always come out all guns blazing with a bowling attack that has been superior. On the contrary, the Indian batting order has always enjoyed an enormous reputation over the years.  This time around, it might just be a bit different. For the first time ever, the Indians seem to be going into a match with a bowling line-up that might just be superior to Pakistan’s.

When we look at the Indian pace attack, there’s Bumrah, there’s Umesh who has now been spearheading the attack with the ball in hand. There’s Shami who can leave the opposition in tatters if he bowls consistently. The spinners still remain India’s trump card.

Now, let us look at the Pakistani batting order. You look at their team, there’s Shehzad, there’s Babar Azam, there’s Sarfaraz, and there’s Shoaib Malik, and you’d perhaps say: ‘they’re not quite up there’, but surprisingly, the Pakistanis have always had this habit of punching well above their weight.

Out of the many contests and sub-plots the encounter would offer, one would certainly have me on the edge of my seat thinking wow, this is something to look forward to. It would be Mohammad Amir vs. Virat Kohli.

So, with the battle lines already being drawn, with the soldiers all in readiness to march in and make a statement, it’d boil down to one thing i.e. who plays better cricket. Leave all the bitterness behind and play quality cricket. May the best team win….

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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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