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40 Stories That Prove That The Youth Will Change The World #BestOfYKA2017

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It’s almost 2018 and what a better way to close the year than to celebrate the best, most path-breaking stories on Youth Ki Awaaz!

Over 2017, YKA saw some of the best stories on the internet that truly represent the Indian youth’s voice. These stories, by users just like you, have sparked debate, positive conversations, and in many cases, created real and tangible impact.

1. Educated, well-dressed, well-mannered, but why so filthy?

2. Over a year after Rohith Vemula’s death, caste continues to have a strong hold around society’s neck.

3. How we take our consumeristic life and its impacts for granted.

 

This story was read by almost 60,000 users, many of whom tweeted out their support to the Jharkhand government.

4. The shameful way sportspersons are treated in the country.

 

The story went viral, and within days, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel said that Assam Government will be appointing her as an archery coach.

5. While women work through the night, the men can be seen playing cards or whiling away time.

 

This powerful story was read by over 120K people and sparked a vital conversation around women’s rights.

6. A shocking reminder of how the government has repeatedly failed to protect human rights of the marginalised in India.

 

Read and shared by 128K readers, this powerful narrative forced us to acknowledge a harsh truth.

7. 50-year-old Leela has been the only resident of this village for almost three years.

 

With over 184K views, this story is the most-read Hindi story on YKA in 2017.

8. A 100-inch square piece of fair skin sells for Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 in Delhi and Mumbai.

 

The most-read story on YKA in 2017 with over half a million views, the story was noticed by the Nepal govt. that promised to take action. The author of the story, Soma Basu, was also awarded the prestigious Kurt Schork Memorial Award under the Local Reporter category.

9. The story of how a writer became part of creating India’s most desired Indian woman.

10. In Haryana, Punjab, and Western UP, trafficking of brides is a booming business fuelled by skewed sex ratios arising out of rampant female foeticide.

11. Mental health, like any health requires professional help, not ‘happy thoughts’.

 

As part of Let’s Talk, a campaign on awareness about depression with WHO, hundreds of YKA users sent in powerful narratives that reinforced the importance of keeping the conversation going.

12. The problem of fake news is a lot bigger, and a lot more dangerous than we may think.

13. Over 70% women in the country cannot afford a sanitary napkin, but the government still thinks putting a tax on them is a good idea.

 

Spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene, Youth Ki Awaaz’s campaign #IAmNotDown received hundreds of powerful stories from users who demanded tax-free sanitary napkins for every last woman.

14. If all women can’t be empowered, none of us will.

15. In a country that has more men than women, surely women are living their sexual dreams? Well, not quite.

 

Read over 94K times, the story started an important conversation on the much-hushed topic of women’s sexuality and desires.

16. Menstruating women are exempt from keeping a fast during Ramadan. Then why do so many of them still do it?

 

Zainab’s story broke the silence around an issue that many would consider ‘too controversial’ for even menstruation. Read by more than 52,000 people, it boldly called out the stigma and religious restrictions that force women to compromise on their health.

17. As the Myanmar govt. looks the other way, this is what Rohingya Muslim women have been put through.

18. Their numbers may be small, but there is a thriving and ever-expanding community of ‘kinksters’ all around us.

 

While Indians are a lot more open about sex, discussing kinks and desires that aren’t seen as ‘normal’ are still not matters to be discussed. This post sparked an active conversation on social media.

19. It has been 20 years since the villagers witnessed a wedding celebration.

 

Soon after the report was published, Dr. Ashwini Parashar, who started the campaign to save the village was invited to a summit where he featured YKA’s video story. Alongside, the MP High Court instructed the state government to take action immediately.

20. If you’re a woman who makes the mistake of questioning absolutely anything, you obviously have no ‘character’.

 

Apart from receiving overwhelming support for her stories and being extremely vocal against online harassment, Simran started a campaign to address the issue and held a protest that was supported by Shashi Tharoor, Shehzad Poonawalla, R Madhavan and Kavita Krishnan.

21. A chance encounter led to 3 months of educating young minds in a hidden Kashmiri village.

22. Because caste and janam kundli are just not enough.

23. For anyone who thinks writing about something doesn’t lead to any impact.

 

Within hours, Isha’s story went viral and got the Mumbai police’s attention. A formal complaint was filed, and the perpetrator caught.

24. A powerful story of a young boy grappling with religion at a time when that was the only thing defining your identity.

25. Shashi Tharoor breaks it down for those still caught up in the language-superiority battle.

26. The scandal that a single bra strap can create.

27. A fascinating account of a few of the lakhs of people who feed this country’s blind faith monster.

28. Is a student’s sexuality even a reason to deny them hostel accommodation?

29. We’ve all faced it at some point, but how many actually try to address it?

 

The story resonated with over 124K readers who read and shared it ahead, reinforcing the fact that each issue, as small as it seems, affects more people than you think. It just takes one person to speak up.

30. Until the time we don’t speak out about sexual violence, the society is going to continue ignoring it.

 

After #MeToo broke out on the social media, several YKA users shared their stories of harassment.

31. The trauma of child sexual assault only becomes worse with forced silence.

32. A heartfelt conversation, shortly after Gauri Lankesh’s shocking murder.

33. For the first time since the media circus around her social media post, Gurmehar Kaur opens up about the toll all of it took on her.

 

Gurmehar is a regular columnist on YKA and her stories can be found at #MeharSpeaks.

34. It’s not like we talk about masturbation. But even when we do, we almost never talk about women masturbating.

 

Garnering almost 170K page views, the tell-all survey shared fascinating insights into women’s sexuality, sparking active conversation on social media.

35. We found Kamlesh’s way of speaking hilarious, and everyone forgot about the terrbile addiction he’s trapped in.

36. What good is development if it destroys lives and livelihoods?

 

Active users from Mumbai have been consistently writing about the dangers of deforesting Aarey forests on YKA. Their stories have been getting immense support.

37. A YKA investigation into how caste still plays a role on the best campuses of the country.

 

The story went viral immediately and has been quoted in many mainstream publications.

38. Caste is a thing of the past, they say. It doesn’t destroy lives anymore, they want you to believe.

39. This nation-wide study reveals horrific torture and abuse dairy animals go through, for our glass of milk.

 

With over 226K views and shares, thousands reached out to express their shock and offered to help bring an end to this practice.

40. Afrazul’s death at the hands of Shambhu Lal jolted the nation to how dangerously real hate crimes have become.

Your words, your stories have undeniable power, and we hope you use this power to make the world better in 2018.

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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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