This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shalu Saharan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Honest Promises To Myself For The Coming Year

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My new year resolutions are actually honest promises that I am making to myself. Burning a lantern symbolizes my decision to disown everything that makes me feel despondent, that makes my eyes shine less, lose my belief in my existence, makes my voice dim.

Spending most of the time in my own company made me realize how negatively judgmental I am for myself. This letter is my commitment to myself, in sickness and in health, in success and in failure, in happiness and in sadness, in disappointments and in wrath.

Dear Self,

I know you are suffering, suffering in a world where every day you have to wear so many masks that now you are confused about your real identity. You have lost yourself in the journey but, fortunately, not completely, there is a 100% chance you can find yourself back, but you have to follow your own expert advice. 

For God’s Sake, Stop Being A People Pleaser

It is not your duty to please everybody and it is impossible. People are different you can’t make everybody happy. You are your first responsibility; unload yourself from the baggage of pleasing and taking care of everybody’s feeling at the cost of your state of mind. Please have some mercy on yourself and be yourself, some will appreciate you some will not. And that’s okay! Being yourself requires a lot of courage, and being courageous is a much better choice. When you are yourself you are fabulous and you know it very well.

You Are Not The Reason For Everything That Goes Wrong

No matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you wish to heal (beautifully quoted by your favourite poet Sarah Kay). You are doing things in your capacity, don’t live with disappointment if even after giving your 100% things didn’t work out the way they should. It’s not your fault, so stop blaming yourself and get rid of all the unnecessary blaming.

Learn To Say ‘No’ Loud And Clear

Before saying it to others ,say it to yourself, say NO to all the negative thinking, toxic thoughts, sometimes giving up is a wise option, give up on all the things that stuns your growth, hinders with your peace, that doesn’t surprise you at all. You are precious, you are here for a limited time, little courage to say NO, will reward you with many things that matter!

The moments that turned out for the worst could have turned out for the best, by only using two magical letters – NO!

Spend Time With The People You Love

Very rightly said, it’s not your job, not your career or the number of degrees you own, none of this will ever help when you are alone. Nothing matters more than the relationships and people who love you – who love you no matter what, their love for you is not dependant on your success and failures, it is beyond things.

These could be your parents, friends and anyone who adds value to your life. The people who never stops believing in you! Who never give up on you !

Don’t Hesitate To Release Your True Potential

You know deep within how incredibly talented you are. Embrace your talents, sharpen your skills, work everyday to become a better version of yourself. Commit all time to writing your own life script and believe me, you will become an amazing writer. Learn more about your favorite writer, read all the books you always wanted to, learn all the skills you always wanted to equip yourself with, whether it’s learning to play the guitar, taking up a psychology course – anything or everything.

You’ve Learned The Lessons, Now You Need To Accept Them Too

You have learned the lessons life has taught you, but still you haven’t given yourself the permission to accept them. Sometimes people are insensitive, don’t hesitate and curb your emotions.

Appreciate Your Strengths

Rather than focusing wholly on your weakness and areas you need to work upon, sometimes focusing on your strength gives you  a sense of your self, of your capability, and induce positivity in you to combat the difficult situations.

Put Yourself Above All

Learn to give yourself the utmost importance in every situation, your feelings matter as much as others. You are whole and complete in yourself, other people and situations are just adding value to it. Instead of focusing on how the other person feels in your company, focus more on how you felt in their company.

Love Yourself  And Stay Healthy

Your body needs rest – you are a human not a machine. Your physical and mental health should be your first priority. Never ever compromise on your health at any cost.

I Love You And Will Never Leave You

No matter how many relationship you make in life, how many people enter your journey – some leave in the beginning, some in the midway and very few make it till the end. But always remember, this journey is all about you. You are the permanent and the strongest never ending support you have. Say it to yourself loudly, “I will never leave you,” because you love yourself unconditionally.

My dear self, since you have figured this all out by yourself , may these promises empower you in conquering your fears, because trust me, the places where you face the biggest challenges are the places where you learn the most!

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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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