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If You Give A Damn About These 8 Issues, You Know What It Means To Speak Up

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Have you ever been bothered by the world that you live in? Do you ever think of raising your voice to start a change? What stops you?

All of us want to live in a better world. Some of us find the courage to do something about it. But here’s the thing. Each one of us, in our own little way, has the power to bring about change. It doesn’t have to be nuclear power level change. Maybe it’s just about getting a street light in your colony fixed that makes people feel safer. Or standing up for a total stranger being harassed on public transport. Or even speaking up about issues that matter to you. It seems like a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

In August, these are the issues that top users at Youth Ki Awaaz raised their voices about.

1. What Privilege Looks Like In India

In our country, if you are a Hindu, upper-caste, wealthy, able-bodied, heterosexual cis-gendered man, the amount of privilege you possess is unparalleled. There is little discrimination you would face, oblivious to the stigma faced by minorities on the lines of caste, class, gender, sexuality. Breaking down all these privileges and recognising the responsibility that comes with it are The Savarna Files. This month, in a series of posts, they spell out small and big things we often take for granted in the spaces we occupy.

Buzzfeed’s Quiz On Privilege And What It Actually Means

You might have taken this quiz recently through the Buzzfeed website which asks the question ” How privileged are you? “. It is essentially a checklist of 127 points. You get to know how privileged you are in society based on the number of points you check.

Follow The Savarna Files on YKA.

2. Blind Faith For A Convicted Rapist

The violence and destruction that followed the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in two rape cases show the dangerous levels our faith for self-styled men and women of God reaches. Over 30 people lost their lives, many states in North India were put on high alert, media vans were torched in an attempt to limit the coverage of the violence. What does it say about us as a society that mindlessly follows criminals in the garb of religious leaders? Is our faith so weak?
Shobha Rana Grover’s powerful story questions this poison that has spread way too far amongst us.

जब बलात्कार के आरोपी बाबा के पीछे लोग बौराने लगे तो समझिये सब ठीक नहीं है

दो राज्यों में हाईअलर्ट… भारी-भरकम सुरक्षा के इंतजाम… ज़िला प्रशासन की निगरानी तेज़…इंटरनेट सेवाएं बंद… स्कूल-कॉलेज बंद… ट्रेनें रद्द! लेकिन ये सब किसलिए? क्या कोई पड़ोसी देश हमले की तैयारी में है? या फिर खुफिया विभाग को किसी आतंकी हमले की संभावना है?

Follow Shobha on YKA.

3. The Damage Caused In Assam Floods That Could Have Been Avoided

Every year, Assam gets ravaged by floods. Every year people are killed, livelihoods are lost, families are uprooted. And yet, this disaster never seems important enough for the mainstream media to cover or the government to pay attention to.

A majority of the damage done during the floods could have been avoided by only paying a little more attention to how cities are being developed. Throughout the month, Kumar Deepak has covered the floods in Assam and Bihar, and the havoc that they brought.

Flash Floods In Guwahati Are A Warning Sign That The City Is Heading Towards Doom

The government and civilians of Guwahati have blood on their hands for the brutal and shameless killing of river Bharalu due to corrupt, blind and aberrant development in the city. The expanding population and mass immigration in Guwahati stems from depleting livelihoods and a lack of employment opportunities in Assam and the rest of the northeast Indian states.

Follow Kumar Deepak on YKA.

4. Travelling In India As A Person With Disability

Making travel plans can be unnerving. Finalising a place you want to visit, fixing the dates, getting leave from work, booking tickets, packing, and then making sure you catch your bus/train/flight. A lot of us also spend a decent amount of time in looking at hotels to stay in, fixating on the details. Will it include breakfast? Does it have a hot shower? Are the rooms sea facing? Is there an elevator?

But what do you do if you reach the hotel and find out you can’t even enter it just because you use a wheelchair?
Sharing details of an RTI filed by her, Abha Khetarpal reveals how hundreds of hotels in the country claim to be ‘disabled-friendly’ but don’t even have a ramp in the name of access.

Despite Govt. Guidelines, This Is How Hotels Make Provisions For People With Disability

In 2009, the Ministry of Tourism issued guidelines for 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotels, stating that all hotels must have specific facilities for persons with disabilities. The hotels had to comply with these guidelines for classification and reclassification, and for getting star certification. They had to make the hotels disabled friendly by 2010.

Follow Abha on YKA.

5. What Travelling Solo Means For An Indian Woman

Discussions around women’s safety are never-ending, and much needed because cases of violence against women are still on the rise. As a daughter, I have seen my parents stress over my safety every time I step out of the house. How I travel, who I go with, when I’m likely to return, they fuss all the time. Imagine then, what it means for a woman to travel all by herself, to the isolated Himalayas, or an overcrowded Goa.

Snehal Wankhede shares her experiences and challenges of being a female solo traveller.

थैंक्स पापा, आप स्कूटर चलाना ना सिखाते तो आज अकेले इंडिया ना घूम पाती

ट्रेन में एक बच्ची के पापा को उसको अपर बर्थ पर चढ़ाने की प्रैक्टिस करवाते हुए देख अपने पुराने दिन याद आ गए। जब सारी लड़कियां स्कूटी चलाना सीख रही थी, पता नहीं कहां से मुझे बजाज स्कूटर चलाने का शौक चढ़ा। शायद इसलिए क्यूंकि घर पर तब वही गाड़ी

Follow Snehal on YKA.

6. The Dark Realities Faced By Children Living On The Streets In India

Over 20 lakh children live on the streets in India, with little access to education, clean water, sanitation and nutrition. A major, and very dangerous consequence of this is an addiction to drugs. To avoid feeling hungry, or cold, many children are made to sniff glue. This soon turns into an addiction, forcing kids to spend whatever they earn on the drugs. Highlighting a similar scenario is Joyeeta Talukdar’s story on children outside the Sealdah railway station in Bengal.

Drugs And Prostitution Are Ruining Lives Of Kids Outside This Kolkata Railway Station

Editor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour.

Follow Joyeeta on YKA.

7. Cinema That Challenges Patriarchy And Religion

Weaving the issue of open defecation with a love story, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was received with enthusiasm by the masses. Riding the wave of socially responsible cinema, following the likes of Pink and Lipstick Under My Burkha, the Akshay Kumar starrer brought in various aspects of challenging patriarchal norms that force women to conform. Naman Singh shares how he found subtle rebellion in the film. In his review, he narrates how the film’s concept aligns with the Swachh Bharat Mission and slams the use of religion to oppress.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha’: A Subtle Rebellion Against Oppressive Patriarchy And Religion

“Maine aisa kya maang liya, ki tum mujhe de nahi sakte? (Did I demand something impossible for you to give me?)” This sole line has all the depth to evoke an exciting thought in me. But, what is exciting here is the need and want for a toilet in the house.

Follow Naman on YKA.

8. Women’s Right To Family Property

For way too long, women have been told that they are “paraya dhan” – a liability that needs to be passed on. This has also been used as an excuse to deny women their rightful share in the family inheritance. After all, her husband is going to take care of her needs, so will her brother. What does she need a house for when her husband is giving her a house to live in? Slamming this sexist tradition is Roki Kumar’s engaging story.

बेटी को पराया धन वाला ज्ञान नहीं अपनी संपत्ति का हिस्सा दीजिए

बचपन से ही मेरी बहन को सिखाया गया कि वो पराया धन है और जो भी कुछ है वो उसके भाइयों का है। धीरे-धीरे मेरी बहन को भी ये लगने लगा कि सच में वो पराई है और शादी के बाद पति का घर ही उसका अपना घर होगा। धूमधाम

Follow Roki on YKA.

Featured image source: Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Every month, thousands of users share stories on issues that matter to them on Youth Ki Awaaz. If there are stories you want to share, issues you want to talk about, log in and directly publish now!

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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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