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Dear Parents, My CGPA Isn’t Perfect And Your Expectations Are Overburdening

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I have a bunch of pending assignments, a deadline this week, and a number of other submissions due in less than 10 days. And still, I thought I need to write this first, because it is more important. Because someone has to say it, someone has to stand up and voice it out.

I completed my class 10 from CBSE and scored a perfect 10, that is, 10 CGPA without upgradations. I still remember the day the result was out. I was happy and satisfied. I gave my best. “Do what you must, so that you can do what you want,” I heard somewhere while in class 10 and worked hard with the hope that it’ll enable me to do what I want.

Alas, I was wrong somewhere. I did what I must, and that resulted in the initiation of a never-ending chain of ‘musts’. I was admitted into a stream that didn’t interest me, put into IIT-JEE coaching, and was told that this is the new ‘must’. I could sense the beginning of a never-ending cycle of expectations and resultant suffocation. Still, I worked hard. However, luck didn’t favour me this time, or maybe I couldn’t work hard in spite of all my will. I failed to get into one of the ‘prestigious institutions’.

It was a failure, in contrast to the massive success in class 10. At least, this is what I was told. But surprisingly, this failure to get into one of the ‘prestigious institutions’ caused my parents to listen to me and allow me to do what I want rather than what I must: I got admitted into law school.

I was really excited on getting into a law school and gave my best in everything I did. I managed to keep up 9 CGPA until my fourth semester, got involved in research, started a legal start-up, and much more. Everyone was happy again. Then, the results of the fifth semester were out, and I scored 8.7 CGPA. I was still happy because 8.7 is still a pretty decent score in law school. And my parents were not because my CGPA was ‘reduced’ by 0.3.

I’m just out of my teenage and haven’t seen much of life, I agree; and based on my limited exposure, what I find is that failure is liberating. ‘Success’ is a stake that’ll keep on going higher. Failure has opened doors for me to do what I want, it has set me free. Success has burdened me with expectations and the burden of maintaining the status quo. Or wait, maybe it’s not what it seems to be. Maybe it’s our misinterpretation and flawed perception. Maybe success isn’t the mistake, giving up to the expectations of others is!

Dear parents, we understand that you love us unconditionally and will never leave us even if we don’t live up to your expectations. Hence, let it be shown that way. Don’t act like your love is conditional when it’s not. Don’t behave like your love is contingent on that exam score. Such emotional threats do not catalyse our performance, they shatter us.

We know you’re the happiest person when we achieve something. We also know that it’s natural for you to expect bigger things from us thereafter. But your love is greater than your expectations, we know that. Don’t burden us with your expectations. Expectations are natural, but imposing them on someone isn’t.

I know you’re muttering how sensitive and emotional I am to take your light rebukes so seriously and write a long post on that. Yes, I’m sensitive. My friends are sensitive. Our whole generation is way too sensitive. Why? Our whole generation is devoid of mutual love and affection, and you, parents, are the only ones we have who love us unconditionally. We know how difficult it is to find such loving humans, and that makes us sensitive towards you, and what you feel.

We know it’s natural for you to be concerned about our future. But we too are concerned for that. Please allow us to make our own decisions and learn from our mistakes. Experience is the best teacher, though you parents are the second-best teachers! Do not be so rigid about your views regarding how competitive the outer world is or how important our grade-sheet is. The world is changing, and things are changing, too.

Lastly, just because I’m saying that you’re wrong, don’t think that I’m going away from you. Just like “a master is no good if he can’t make his disciples better than himself”, “a father is no good if he can’t make his son capable of standing against himself.

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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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