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Dear Boys, Here Are 10 Ways You Can Usher In Gender Equality

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In the interest of ushering gender equality in our society, it’s important for male-identified persons to understand these 10 simple rules, and follow them diligently. To all the boys out there, here’s what to do.

Postulate 1: Only ‘Yes’ Means ‘Yes’

In recent times, a ‘No means No’ approach has been propagated among boys. But it’s only partially correct. Instead, boys should follow a ‘Only Yes means Yes’ approach. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are not just two digital values. Between them lies a wide range of mixed signals. What will a boy do if a person of interest remains silent or is confused? If you follow ‘No means No’ then you might probably give the benefit of that person’s doubt to yourself. You might end up harassing them. ‘Only yes means Yes’ is the best approach. You will never be confused because unless she says ‘Yes’ with conviction, all her communications may be considered a ‘No’. Even her silence is a ‘No’.

Postulate 2: Know About The Women At Home

Boys should get involved in meaningful discussions with the women in their homes. You should ask them about the problems they face on daily basis, whether it’s related to their security, or health, or psychological state. It will help you get sensitized to their problems. Once you become sensitised, you will orient your thought process to think about their problems. Afterwards, you will become competent enough to solve the issue of gender inequality, right in the home. It’s high time that boys learn how difficult it is to play the role of a mother or a sister or a wife, who face these problems just because of their feminine identity. This is gender inequality.

Postulate 3: Know About The Impact Of Your Conduct On Women Colleagues

Boys should ask women colleagues at work if any particular behavior of theirs would have possibly been hurtful, or even harassment. Sexual harassment is never about your intentions but about the impact of your behavior. Some men are really unaware of this, and women (out of fear, shame or to avoid repercussions at work) never let these men know about the same. If and when she is comfortable, ask her if you have ever crossed the line.

Postulate 4: Stop Using Character Assassination And Rumor Mongering As An Instrument Of Protest

Why would you attack a woman online because of her identity? Just because her political views are diametrically opposite to yours doesn’t give you permission to threaten her with rape threats on social media. Just because she did not accept your proposal or viewoint doesn’t give you the freedom to assassinate her character by rumor mongering. Get rid of that male ego and handle it better.

Postulate 5: Stop Behaving Like The Successor To The Seat Patriarchal Of Power

Boys in their twenties tend to think that they will be future heads of their families, and so they start showcasing their authority over their mother and sisters and. This is the rise of the patriarch within them.

Postulate 6: Stop Objectifying Women

First of all, you yourselves should completely abstain from objectifying females. Once you observe this rule, then people around you will come to know about your stand and this will be a deterrence for them too. Second, no matter who he is, even if your own brother, register your protest with a man if he objectifies women. Maybe when you stop your friends, you end up being labeled as ‘Baba’. But that’s fine. Rebellion is never easy irrespective of its scale but there must be a beginning to a progressive change.

Postulate 7: Support Women Facing Harassment Instead Of Passing Judgement

You will have to speak against sexual harassment and help women around you feel safe enough to do the same. Many a time, boys tend to ignore such cases because the perpetrator is someone whom the girl knows. It is therefore considered their personal matter. But just because the perpetrator is a friend of hers doesn’t give us an excuse to normalise and legitimise such acts. A person’s prior relationship, of any kind, with a man does not deprive her of the right to consent, nor does it allow a man to neglect taking consent.

Postulate 8: Welcome The Girl Child

Committing foeticide or subjecting a girl child to discrimination just because she is female is the gravest form of gender discrimination. If we, as men, can’t spare an innocent life from this discrimination, then how can we expect ourselves to be civil and considerate towards adult women? Subjecting a child to such discrimination at the very start of their life cycle leads to development of a weak individual who will never stand for her rights because she might get acclimatised to discrimination since her inception. You, as a father, will be the ‘first love’ of her life and that too forever. Do you need a better reason to welcome her?

Postulate 9: Learn To Cook And Do Your Part Of Child Care

It will help you, as a man, to appreciate the labour that women do at home. A housewife does not get any remuneration for her services, and we treat her work as inferior to that of working men. This has to stop.

Postulate 10: Do Not Force Your Partner Into Anything Without Their Unambiguous Consent

As mentioned earlier, a person’s present relationship with you does not nullify their right to consent. Any instance of past consent also does not mean that a person has surrendered their right to consent to you forever. If you fail to get this thing right, then you might end up perpetuating the problem of marital rape. Folks, just because something is not a crime as per the law does not make it ethically correct.

Follow these 10 rules and you can play a big role in making gender equality a reality.

Featured image illustration by Agata Hop.
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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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