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We Asked You How Voting Can Be Made Engaging, And Here Are Your Winning Entries

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Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #JetSetVote, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook India have come together to create a community of millennials who are aware and informed about their voter rights and responsibilities, through a series of workshops organised in collaboration with PRIA across 50 campuses. If you're a student, teacher or admin member, register your college to organise a fun session!

In the last general elections, only 50% of India’s 150-million-strong young voting population actually turned up to cast their vote. What was it that kept India’s millennials – widely perceived as one of India’s greatest strengths – from voting? And more importantly, how can we ensure that voter turnout among India’s youth increases by the time of the 2019 general elections?

Will the situation change by 2019? (Photo by Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Last month, we turned to our readers for answers. As part of our campaign with Facebook, #JetSetVote, we ran an Ideathon contest on Youth Ki Awaaz, asking young people on the internet to share their ideas on how to make voting interesting and engaging for Indian millennials. And the responses did not disappoint – we received some very cool ideas from hundreds of users who wrote in! Take a look at the top 7 entries below:

  • Voluntary Internships: Youth and students can intern under the ECI to spread awareness and fulfil other duties at the end of which they will be awarded performance-based certificates to add to their CV.
    Siddharth Sharma
  • Why shouldn’t we use smartphones for voting? Government has started to link Aadhar with a mobile number. So if we also link the voter card with Aadhar, then our mobile numbers will automatically get linked with voter ID card. Now, voting can proceed with security measures.
    Praamod Yogiraj
  • The biggest complaint I’ve heard from non-voting friends is that waiting in line is too tedious. Free WiFi at polling stations can make it more fun. This can be extended by partnering with telecom operators to give 100 MB free data to anyone who votes. Beyond this, the EC should also partner up with e-retailers. Anyone who connects to the booth WiFi should get discount coupons on their phones. This would work as an amazing reward.
    Shyam Nandan Reddy Uppuluru
  • The Election Commission can host some exciting competitions to engage youth on the issue of voting. Participants could be asked to create documentaries or posters and their entries can be shared on social media. The best entries can also be given exciting prizes. Through this, voting should be trending on all social media platforms!
    Abdul Rahman
  • Educate the youth about the importance of their votes: The first step is to make youth understand through social media (Facebook and WhatsApp) campaigns that by not voting, India will be governed by the choices of those who have voted. Equally important is to ensure new voters understand the option of NOTA, so they can choose not to vote for any candidate.
    Aishwarya Sandeep
  • Vote and get concessions on public services: To give young people an incentive to vote, voters can be given a choice as to which public service they want the concessions for (public transport, bank fees). That particular service will be available to the voter at a subsidised rate. For example, a voter living in Delhi may be given concessions on the Metro fare.
    Shikhar
  • Celebrity endorsements can get Indian youths to vote: If the Election Commission can get celebrities to endorse voting on billboards and online, like private advertisements – imagine glamorous Deepika Padukone on a billboard in Varanasi showing the voting ink on her finger – young people will automatically begin to associate voting with being “cool”.
    Keertana S

Three of these innovative, refreshing and unique ideas will be selected to win cash prizes of up to ₹10,000. And five will be shared with the Election Commission! For a look at other entries that were both insightful and informative, but did not make the cut, check out our Ideathon page.

And those who couldn’t participate this time, don’t worry! Youth Ki Awaaz will be hosting two more contests very soon – so stay tuned and keep checking our #JetSetVote page for updates!

About #JetSetVote: #JetSetVote is a nationwide movement to make voting fun, interesting and engaging for the Indian millennial. As part of the campaign, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook are organising workshops across 50 campuses in India to train first-time voters as conscious citizens and educate them about their voting rights and responsibilities in a fun and engaging manner. Find out more, here.

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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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