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Inspired By Sridevi, A Community Of Women Are Helping Each Other Learn English

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By Shiny Hoque: 

Nowadays, Afifa – a homemaker, is making sure she chats only in English. Last time in the parent-teacher meeting, the teacher told her to teach her son to speak English. But how can she do that when she herself can’t speak or write in English?

There’s so much support around that we don’t feel awkward for making mistakes

Afifa puts her little one to sleep and checks her phone. She gets two hours of free time before her older one gets back from school. During this time, she dedicates herself to learning English.

Working professional Debomita finds it embarrassing when her boss asks her to write a business email. She requests her colleague to type the email for her. She would love to enrol in a course, but after office and household work, she feels dead tired.

Priyanka’s problem is a little different. She is moving to Melbourne after her wedding. Can she adjust to a new country if she can’t communicate in English? She can’t afford to join a course.

Afifa, Debomita and Priyanka are members of women’s community platform SHEROES, and to support their requests to learn English, a new community “English Winglish” took shape.

The community, inspired by Sridevi’s take-charge film, “English Vinglish”, is a judgement-free space, where we members learn via stories, chats, confessions, and conversations.

There’s so much support around that we don’t feel awkward for making mistakes

Every morning, a community member shares an interesting topic, and soon other members, chat, add their bit, and learn something new.

It’s a wholesome activity of sharing, learning and bonding, with an outpour of thoughts, views and experiences. Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes don’t stop us from expressing freely, as there’s no judgement towards our mistakes.

In fact, there’s wholehearted help from those who know English better.

Through these conversations, we learn about each other too – our dreams, aspirations and daily schedules.

In doing so, we practice English and enrich our community love. All this is possible from the confines of our home, as we log into the community via the SHEROES app on our smartphones.

Brushing up English grammar skills through simple grammar exercises

Learning Is Fun

Community members are free to suggest ideas and ways to learn.

A member suggested that watching movies with English subtitles helps in improving. That wasn’t all! She began sharing YouTube links of all the movies she watched, urging us to watch and learn.

Recently, we also started reading sessions. A member, who’s an assistant professor of English introduced the reading session. All she did was share the link to a short story and asked everyone to read. It’s a known fact how the reading habit can propel mastering a language.

What’s more? Improving our vocabulary and learning new words have helped us in building a better word bank. When one member learns a new word, she willingly shares with the rest of us.

There’s also ample scope for our doubts and questions to get answered easily with clarity, as English language trainers and communication specialists visit our community as guests. During these sessions, we put forward our doubts and learn simultaneously.

Watch movies with English subtitles and learn!

Circle Of Support

It’s worthwhile to note that not all of us in the community have the time or financial resources, to pursue a course in spoken English or English language.

We’re women who find our space in this community after finishing household chores or office work.

As per our convenience, we catch up with our community friends while engaging in some learning. For some of us, being in the community is part of our daily routine.

There are many who fumble while communicating in English. We often use wrong sentences and grammatical errors occur often, too. Whenever some member posts such sentences, there’s a correction coming our way through links to online tutorials, audios and videos.

It’s like being in a virtual classroom, with no stress on marks, or attendance!

The spirit and energy of the community are infectious. No wonder, it started only a few months back and we already have more than 40,000 members today. There’s no joining fee and the journey is priceless because it has a mix of women – those who want to learn and improve their English, and others who are either experts or who excel, and are happy to share what they know!

This synergy has taught me something amazing – when women help each other, NOTHING is impossible!

Image used for representational purposes only.

About Shiny Hoque:

Besides, moderating the English Winglish community on SHEROES,  I love to travel and connect with people. I am an avid reader and a passionate writer. Dream to have a small library of my own someday. A believer in the power of pen more than that of a sword. I believe words and empathy have enough power to bring about any change in this world.

 SHEROES Communities for women are accessible via and the SHEROES app
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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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