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Grade 5 Students Answer Questions About Girl Child Education

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Canadian High CommissionEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryGirlInSchool, a campaign by the High Commission of Canada, Nutrition International and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate for equal opportunities for girls in India. Join the conversation by publishing a story here.

Several Grade 5 students of the TFI classroom in Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, Mumbai, answer different questions on girl child education for #EveryGirlInSchool. 

1. What is your understanding of equal opportunities for girls and how do you think we all are working towards achieving it?

In my opinion, girls and boys should get equal opportunities. Teach For India is a good example of gender equality since, in Teach For India, all girls and boys are given equal opportunities, always. Other examples are Just For Kicks and The Right Pitch where both boys and girls are given the right to play sports such as Football and Cricket which are otherwise rare for girls. What the government does right now is still not enough. The government should focus on sending girls to bigger and better schools. If girls get this opportunity, they can do amazing things in their life. They will be successful and will be able to do what they really have interest in. In my class, the girls played cricket very well and became champions. Even in football they played and reached the finals. If girls get opportunities like this they will surely become successful and do good to society.
-Mitesh Ramachal Prajapati, Grade 5, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir

2. What do you think are the barriers to access education for girls in India and how can we overcome these challenges?

There are a lot of problems for girls in India. The began in olden days when things like Sati, Dowry death, selling girls for money, kidnapping for marriage, and rapes were so common. India has 49% female population but only 65% are educated. In my opinion, girls and boys are equal and must get equal right to good education. With every opportunity, it is important to involve both boys and girls because only then will the opportunity be complete. We have good examples of girls who have achieved many things like Poorna Malavath, Gita, Babita, Malala Yousufzai, Shakuntala Devi, etc. But why do we still see husband beating up wives especially when they give birth to a girl child? They torture them and call them a burden to the family. The government has started many programmes to solve this problem but it is not enough. People don’t have money to afford education for all members in the family and so they choose to only send their boys to school. Government must make education compulsory for all girls and should help them with the money problems. We need more schools for this big population of India. If we compare China and India, 82% females get educated which is a big number. We deserve this right for equal opportunities for all girls and boys in this country. We should all stand up for this together as good citizens of this country.
-Navin Baudh, Grade 5, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir

3. What according to you is the best solution to ensure that every girl goes to school?

Every girl must get equal opportunity for education. If we see parents or other members of our community trying to stop girls from going to school, we should first try to talk to them and make them understand about the importance of educating girls. We need to explain to them how even the government is working hard to make sure that girls get educated. Government has many good programmes for parents who have money problems in sending girls to school by giving free education and good facilities like free meals, books, etc. We have all heard of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme launched by the government. We need to make sure that in every community all parents are made aware of importance of girl child, education, health and hygiene and not to believe things like girls are a burden to the family. We need to support and motivate girls to join sports, defense, business and all other jobs. We should stop making fun of girls by saying mean words like ‘item’ that can hurt their feelings. We must understand that our mother is also a woman and she has taken great pain to give birth to us and take care of us. So we must make sure to give equal opportunities for girls and boys and give them good quality education.
-Anmol Tiwari, Grade 5, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, Kandivali East

4. If you have a personal story of lack of opportunities for girls, please share it.

In my community, many girls don’t go to school. Even in my class, there are very few girls compared to boys. I have a story to share about the lack of opportunities for girls in my community. This story is about a girl called ‘Bomthi’. She lives in my neighborhood with two brothers and parents. Till 4th standard, all three kids went to a nearby government school. Her parents always scream at her and tell her to only do housework and not to go to school. She always had to work extra but her brothers never had to do the same. One day, her parents removed her from school. At that time she did not understand why they did that. So she only sat at home and did housework. Then she realized that her parents didn’t have money to send all the children to school. So her parents decided to only send her brothers to school. There are so many girls like Bomthi who don’t go to school in my chawl. I felt really awful about this situation. So I talked to my parents about it and asked them to talk to Bomthi’s parents. My parents were finally successful in telling Bomthi’s parents to send her to a government school where they wouldn’t have to spend so much money but still give some education to Bomthi. There are so many stories like this in India. So many girls don’t have the basic right to basic education and health facilities. Even though the government is doing many programmes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao it is still difficult for poor people especially to give opportunities like quality education and sports to their girls’ children. It is my dream to one day stop all this and make sure that every girl in India will be able to have good education and a bright future.
-Nandini Santosh Sonkamble, Grade 5, Shri Ram Vidya Mandir, Kandivali East

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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.

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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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