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To Possessive Fathers, Concerned Mothers and ‘Fatherly’ Brothers – From A 23-Year-Old

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My sweet ever possessive fathers, over-concerned mothers and “fatherly” brothers,

You all have made my life very lucky in so many senses. Your love, care and the attention you show every moment makes me the luckiest girl in this world. I cherish each and every memory that I have shared with you till now. I am eagerly waiting for more such moments. I always wonder how can someone think day in day out about me and my happiness.

If I go back to my school entrance days, I still remember how mom and dad tightly clutched my hands while entering the school. Mom was in tears all the way long. Time has flown since then!

The short, intense fights I had with my brother since the childhood (which happen even today) haven’t changed even one bit. But I still remember how he has helped me to complete my assignments and projects and saved me from embarrassment.

I love you all, and will always love you. I know you all are there for me now and forever.

But, I stand here, a confused 23-year-old woman…

It’s been 23 years now, and we have also seen highs and lows in our relationship(s) which of course everyone sees. I don’t want to discuss those now. Instead, I would like to grab your attention towards a more vital issue.

I have grown up to be a young lady, ready to fly with wings spread!

Wait for a second! Wings? Shit, Do I even have them? I doubt. Do they really work? Something wrong with me? Am I overprotected and preserved?

I hope my family hasn’t lost to society’s harsh words and actions. Have they?

Am I acting too weird? But why then does the whole world talk about women empowerment? Too confused? I am also. Some things baffle me and leave me to think about myself. It took me some time to come up with a few answers.

Let’s start from the start

You taught me to help others and when I did, you judged me to be going out of my way.

You taught me to carefully pick and choose good souls as friends, and when I spend time with them you are quite uncomfortable.

You taught me that both men and women are equal, but then you draw boundaries when it comes to my life.

You taught me to love everyone with an open heart irrespective of their caste, religion or economic status, but when I do wish to get married to someone whom I love, that very thought burns you down.

You taught me all gods are one and that all religions preach the same, but try to make me in follow what you claim to be ours.

You taught me looks don’t matter and character does, but now attempt to alter my size.

You taught me there are no limits to one’s freedom, but mine comes with a ‘conditions apply’.

I’m not a little kid anymore!

The fact is that your little daughter/sister, your cutie-pie has grown up, and understands the realities of life. She is mature enough to handle her life as it comes and is fully empowered with doses of advice and stories of experience.

She is no more of her brother’s ‘touch-me-not’ doll.

She understands that princesses don’t exist in real life, but enjoys being her dad’s princess.

Being spiritual or seeking answers in an earnest way makes sense to her, rather than following the custom in filling in the column of ‘religion’.

Friends who are valued as the family play a prominent role in her life as they are part of her ups and downs, and it is her duty to be there for them.

More than just a tag of being ‘married’ (at the society’s decided right age), a lifelong commitment of companionship, love and togetherness is what she desires.

You have to come to terms with the fact that your little one is not too little to be caged now.

I understand the reality of a traditional society, but still…

Of course, I understand that society is not fair to women and that its actions hurt womanhood. I am not aiming to bring about a revolutionary change in the society with my actions. But I would at least like to experience it in my own life in the first place, and then be a ray of hope for the others. If within our small world (home) we welcome change, then I am sure it will spread to all homes (world) for the greater good.

Society has created this fear in all of you with unpleasant incidents and trouble, but we must, I believe, garner the courage and strength to strongly oppose and fight it. Creating pointless boundaries for women will not just inhibit our growth, but also deter the menfolk from having egalitarian thoughts.

I admit it is scary to step out into society but for this fear to end, our collective effort is needed. I do not wish for an unpleasant situation to exist for my child. And the same way would like to see you walk beside me in all my endeavours. With your everlasting warmth, love and care as a shield, with no family or society-imposed boundaries, I would like to accomplish my goals with my wings undoubtedly spread wide.

Your trust in me and your upbringing will always light my way forward, for I love all of you, and I know you love me. But I would love to explore the heights and depths of this world at my own pace, and I want to fly now, with my own wings, not with yours.

Yours lovingly,
A high-spirited 23-year-old, ready for flight!

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By Youth Action Hub- India (Delhi)


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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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