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Justice Shall Prevail Not Revenge!

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On August 9th 2018, on the eve of August Kranti Day, International Adivasi Day and the birthday of Late Sri Sudhindra Shukla(a veteran journalist and trade union leader), a convention was organised by the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights(PVCHR) in Varanasi. The convention’s objective was to celebrate the ideas of justice, equality, fraternity and pluralism.

The programme began with Ashish Mishra and friends singing Kabir Vani; followed by felicitating the guests with a sapling, a copy of Indian Constitution and Varanasi’s Gamcha. Dr.Mahendra Pratap, the president of PVCHR, delivered a welcoming speech.

Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the founder of PVCHR, illustrated the goals of the event. He emphasized that the convention was meant to unite the broken people of all caste and religions and to fight against the caste system, communal fascism, politics centred on religion, patriarchy, and Neo-liberalism. He further said that the convention is an attempt to promote justice, fraternity and pluralism in a highly unequal society; and would pave the way for an egalitarian society. He also stressed that by adopting the ideals of Nelson Mandela, Neo-Dalit Movement could achieve progress and age-old problems can be solved.

Ms.Jagriti Rahi(Varanasi), Mr.Uday Kumar (Bihar) and Mr.Pradeep Garg from Uttarakhand, were awarded Jan Mitra Award, for their commendable work in the area of human rights. A book by social scientist, Mr.Amit Singh –  Conflict of Freedom of Expression and Religion and another by senior writer and thinker, Kanshi Ram Ji and Mr.Moolchand Sonkar – First Japan trip were also launched at the event.

Senior journalist and founder of Media Vigil, Mr.Pankaj Srivastava advocated on the “elimination of anger”. He said that the agents of fascism, have captured Ram, Shiv and Parvati. He suggested that the rulers and politician must read about the character of Shri Ram. He further explained how politics has changed the nature of God- from the protector to the one who is full of rage and anger. He also mentioned how we had been taught since our childhood, that our gods lived in harmony on the Himalayas with other gods. They show us the significance of peaceful co-existence.

Professor Ratan Lal, an intellectual, who teaches at Hindu college, explained that the caste system can never be eliminated if Brahmanism remains. The two have originated from a composite culture. Caste System can be destroyed only when Brahmins too, start organising anti-caste movements.

Jignesh Mevani, Member of Gujarat Legislative Assembly and a prominent Dalit activist, pointed out that Uttar Pradesh does not need the ideology of BJP, but that of Kabir, Raidas and Buddha. He further stressed that the Indian Constitution can be protected only when the people of India understand the ideals of Kabir, Raidas and Buddha. Taking a dig at the ruling party, he said that their work is to break our unity and our duty is to spread love. He emphasised that the need of the hour is to be united as an opposition. Mevani further said, Mathma Gandhi is the father of the nation, and Dr Ambedkar is the father of modern India.

Senior journalist, television anchor, author and ex-director of Rajya Sabha TV, Shri Urmilesh, suggested that to fight against contemporary fascist forces; everyone needs to be united and forgetting their personal differences. He mentioned the recent election of Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, in which NDA won, and opposition lost; even though they have claimed that they were in the majority. He warned that as 2019 elections are getting close, the ruling party might play new tricks and people have to be more responsible so they no longer fall for the jumlas.

Senior social worker and chairman of Congress Sevadal, Shri Lalji Desai lambasted those who have a Manuvadi mentality and practice inequality. He also stressed on the necessity to struggle for equal access to education, right to food and employment. Shri Nadeem Khan, of United Against Hate campaign, also gave a speech foregrounding that- justice shall prevail, not the revenge!

Many prominent people shared their views in this program including Ms.Arpna (Gao Ke Log), Sri Ambrish Kuman Roy (Ex-MLA, Uttrakhand), Sri Vijay Pandey (Mumbai), Dr.Kafeel (Gorakhpur), Anoop Sharmik and Shruti Nagvanshi (Convenor, Savitribai Phule Women Forum).

The programme was anchored by famous theatre personality, writer and poet, Vyomesh Shukla. In the end, Dr.Arif Mohammad, Secretary of PVCHR’s governing board, thanked everyone for making the event successful. The event was concluded with famous tribal dance by Ghasiya Tribe. People from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Maharastra participated in large numbers.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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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