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7 Times Hashtag Activism Got Shit Done In 2017

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2017 saw a rise in the impact of hashtag activism when the following hashtag movements surfaced on social media:

1. #LahuKaLagaan

Out of the 497 million women in India, only 12% of women use sanitary napkins. The remaining 88% resort to handcrafted alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay and plastic.

These stats compelled SheSays, a women’s rights organisation to launch the campaign ‘#LahuKaLagaan’ in April 2017 to make sanitary napkins easily accessible and tax-free. They urged people to tweet to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley using the hashtag in support of the campaign. This campaign translated from an online hashtag into a PIL filed before the Bombay High Court. Watch this video to know more about the campaign.

2. #AintNoCinderella

On August 4, 2017, Varnika Kundu was driving back home after midnight when she was chased and almost kidnapped by two men in Chandigarh. She narrated the entire incident on Facebook. “The girl should not have gone out at 12 in the night.” “Why was she driving so late in the night?” “Parents must take care of their children. They shouldn’t allow them to roam at night. Children should come home on time, why stay out at night?” (Aren’t you sick of these questions, girls? Check out the video below.) After hearing such comments by Ramveer Bhatti, the area vice-president of BJP, Divya Spandana, an actress and former member of parliament created #AintNoCinderella in an effort to remind the world that today’s society isn’t some 17th-century fairytale where women should be held to a strict midnight curfew. Soon after this, other women started posting pictures of themselves out after midnight under the hashtag #AintNoCinderella in support of Varnika Kundu.

3. #WomensMarch

This was started by a retired attorney Teresa Shook the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. She started a facebook event wanting to protest against this, and soon after women all over the country wanted to join in. The march was conducted by people across the world to celebrate democracy and support women’s rights and equality.

4. #MeToo

Even though the movement was first started in 2006 by an activist Tarana Burke, it went viral in October 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it in an effort to encourage women who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted to step forward and reply to her tweet to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

This hashtag went viral like no other. It got people from everywhere to talk about one of the biggest prevailing issues in the world for not only women but also men, sexual harassment. It was the biggest movement on social media in 2017, with over 12 million posts within just 24 hours.

5. #IWillSpeakUp

When the entire Harvey Weinstein episode came to light, it ignited a fire within people to not stay silent anymore. Joyful Heart Foundation started the movement #IWillSpeakUp for men to educate and promote a healthy, respectful idea of manhood. This campaign is asking men to speak to other boys and men in their lives about sexism, and speak out against the violence and abuse that women go through.

6. #WomenBoycottTwitter

This movement was started in solidarity with Rose McGowan, one of the accusers of Harvey Weinstein when Twitter suspended her account for violating its terms and policies. #WomenBoycottTwitter started at midnight in New York on October 13 and was first adopted by Heidi Moore, an editor and consultant. A lot of celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Chrissy Teigen, Mark Ruffalo, John Cusack joined in and maintained silence on their Twitter profiles for 24 hours to show their support.

7. #HowIWillChange

In the wake of #MeToo, which brought to light the sexual harassment that women face daily, men showed their support with a hashtag of their own. Started by Australian journalist, Benjamin Law, the #HowIWillChange movement saw men resolving to make changes to their conduct so as to counter rape culture. The movement offered suggestions on what men could do to help change societal norms that encourage abuse, assault and harassment against women. It emphasised how by not speaking up people can be a part of the problem, even if they haven’t actually assaulted anybody.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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