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26 Of The Best Stories On YKA That Will Remind You Of The Power Of Your Words

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2018, in many ways, was the year of ground-breaking events and breakthrough reactions. On Youth Ki Awaaz, we saw your voices take centre stage with diverse issues, helping create and continue much-needed conversations. From moving personal stories to compelling opinion pieces and exclusive in-depth research series, users like you have raised the standard of quality story-telling on digital media.

Here’s a look at the most powerful stories published on Youth Ki Awaaz in 2018 that have reinforced our faith in our mission and the power of your words.

1. Casual sexism that plagues IIT Mumbai.

The Unheard Sexist Culture At IIT Bombay Where Women Are Called ‘Hariyali’

It shows in the rape jokes you overhear, in the friendly advice to take it as a compliment, in the look men exchange when a woman passes.

2. Pay a high price, become a doctor.

NEET PG Scam 2018: What Is The Future For India’s Doctors If Seats Are Being Bought?

I was also receiving messages from a whole lot of people, telling me that they can fix MD/MS seats even before the results could come.

3. Exploitation in the name of centuries-old ‘tradition’ in Kerala

Chooral Muriyal: What A Sick Temple ‘Ritual’ Is Doing To Young Boys In Kerala

The best-kept secret about the practice perhaps is what happens to these children after the festival.

4. The true colours of Holi.

Nandgaon Holi: Where Male Children Aged 7 To 15 ‘Proudly’ Molested Me

We should stop treating children committing crimes in isolation from how we are raising them in the first place

5. When Youth Ki Awaaz users boldly spoke up about breastfeeding in public.

What Is The Youth Ki Awaaz On Breastfeeding In Public?

The Malayalam magazine ‘Grihalakshmi’ took a bold stand by featuring a model breastfeeding a baby on its cover. The cover sparked a nationwide debate. We asked the Youth Ki Awaaz community what they felt about the issue of breastfeeding in public, and the ‘Grihalakshmi’ cover. Here’s a look at some of the responses.

6. A moving report on events that followed the shocking rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua.

You Were Never India’s Daughter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out in December 2012 in support of Jyoti Singh aka Nirbhaya and called her Bharat ki Beti. Is Asifa not Bharat ki Beti for him?

7. How privilege protects predators.

How A Student At Jadavpur Uni. Got Away After Sexually Harassing More Than A Dozen Women

Chaudhuri’s case is just one of many that are mismanaged by the very systems meant to see them through to justice.

8. Before we ask men to stop pulling women back, let’s make sure we have each other’s backs.

An Open Letter To Shahnaz Husain After She Rejected Me For Being A Woman Photographer

Before we ask men to stop pulling women back, let’s support and choose each other based on capabilities and not gender.

9. Why we need to continue the conversation on menstrual health.

‘She Thought A Leech Was In Her Vagina’: The Reality Of Menstrual Awareness In Jharkhand

I have been working with these young, tribal and Dalit girls on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights for the past 5 years and I am shocked at how little they know about menstrual hygiene, even now.

10. Studying abroad isn’t just about #TravelGoals and living the ‘first-world life’.

I Spent 2 Years Studying In Paris And London And The Experience Wasn’t What I’d Hoped For

The experiences in these cities were beset with racism, discrimination and ignorance. Whether or not you feel gloomy, the weather always will be.

11. A shocking reality we continue to ignore.

Meeting Asha: A Harrowing Glimpse Into The Lives Of Homeless Women In Delhi

For most women living in shelters, there is often no difference between having that roof over your head and sleeping on the roadside.

12. A moving account on marriage, sex, love and women’s desire.

For 25 Years I’ve Stayed Faithful To A Husband Who Refused Me Sex

I was young, alone in a big metro, no relatives or parents whose shoulder I could cry on and definitely no friend because to everyone else I had somehow and most undeservedly got hold of the best man on the planet.

13. After devastating floods hit Kerala in August, here’s how YKA users united to show solidarity.


More than 370 people have been killed and lakhs affected in one of the worst floods to hit the state. It’s time for us to step up and help.

14. If only we paid more attention to make sure that sex isn’t a big question mark.

‘I Wanted To Slap My Teenage Daughter When She Told Me She Was Pregnant’

Our children are going to have sex, more often without telling us. As parents, we should prepare them to make the right choices.

As part of #MyBodyMyChoice, several Youth Ki Awaaz users spoke up about women’s right to reproductive justice and access to abortion. Find their stories here.

15. “My family is aware of my female characteristics, but they are in denial about my identity.”

‘My Wife Thinks I Am Gay And I Let Her Believe That, Because The Arrangement Works’

26-year-old Vikas, or ‘Whiskey’, as she is known, shares a story of what it means to lead a dual life.

In a week-long campaign with Tinder India, we celebrated all gender identities, expressions, love and acceptance. Read more stories of queer Indians living and loving as they are with #AllTypesAllSwipes.

16. A protest on campus that became a full-blown riot within hours.

Rumours And Riot: All That’s Happened At KIIT Bhubaneswar Since November 23

Violence broke out between KIIT students, the day after a girl who was allegedly harassed protested with her batchmates, outside the accused’s hostel.

17. The ugly side of India’s most famous tea gardens.

Why Are Young Mothers Working In Assam’s Tea Estates Severely Malnourished?

The women do enormous work, from household chores to working in the fields from 7 AM to 3 PM. They live and work in terrible conditions with awful sanitation and hygiene.

YKA user Sumantra Mukherjee has reported exclusive stories on the condition of tribal workers in Assam’s tea gardens. Read more here.

18. A one-of-a-kind, extensive look at the condition of labourers in India.

Tales Of Toil: An Analysis Of Indian Labour Sector

India has two major provisions to safeguard the interests of workers: the Payment of Wages Act 1936 and the Minimum Wages Act 1948.

Through an excellently researched five article series, YKA user Mrittunjoy discussed and highlighted the realities, needs and interests of the working class in India. Read them here.

19. Members of Parliament speak out on the issues they’re fighting for: In collaboration with YLAC India, Youth Ki Awaaz launched Sansad Unplugged, a digital campaign to create a channel of communication between our leaders and us. Here’s what MPs had to say:

MP Rajeev Satav on why he introduced a Private Member Bill on paid paternity leave

MP Rajeev Satav Is Fighting The Notion That Child Care Is Only A Mother’s ‘Duty’

The holistic development of a newborn should be the joint responsibility of both the mother and the father. The absence of paternity leave is reflective of a stereotype that child care is the sole responsibility of the mother.

Read what YKA users have to say about the Paternity Leave Bill.

MP Husain Dalwai on why the current Triple Talaq Bill is problematic.

The Govt’s Decision On Triple Talaq Will Lead To Further Marginalisation Of Muslims

The Bill I introduced prescribes two procedures for dissolution of marriage – one which is initiated outside the court and one which is initiated through the court – and parties are given the option to choose either of the procedures.

Read what YKA users have to say about the Triple Talaq Bill.

MP Kalikesh Singh Deo on the importance of making lobbying transparent.

A Loophole In Our Laws Has Left A Grey Area For Blatant Corruption In The Government

Enabling a trend of greater participation by a diverse set of actors would allow lobbying to play a positive role in policy making, because it would help meaningfully provide representation.

Read what YKA users have to say about the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities Bill.

MP Dr. Kirit Solanki on the working condition of domestic workers in India.

What No One Will Tell You About How Domestic Workers In India Are Treated

They are denied fair wages, sometimes made to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week without an off.

Read what YKA users have to say about the Domestic Workers (Decent Working Conditions) Bill.

20. A moving account of witnessing the horrors of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992

Babri Masjid Demolition: I’m Still Ashamed Of Becoming A Part Of This History

A quarter of a century has passed by, yet the entire incident is etched in my mind so clearly that it hurts like it did on that fateful day.

21. When the Supreme Court finally read down Section 377, love and support poured in!

Section 377 Live Updates

Supreme Court of India will be announcing its verdict on Section 377 which criminalises same sex relationships.

22. In the light of #MeToo, a look at India’s poisonous culture of victim blaming

‘We Are Each Responsible For The Injustices Of The Men We Place On Pedestals’

From West to East, countless spiritual leaders are abusing their flocks. Prominent politicians boast of bowing and prostrating before these abusers.

South Asian Affairs Analyst and YKA user Pieter Friedrich wrote a powerful series on sexual violence in India and the culture of silence we have created. Read the stories here.

23. An inhuman practice – made illegal years ago – that continues to oppress millions.

‘There Were Days When Human Excreta Would Be All Over My Entire Body, Even Enter My Mouth’

I don’t know whether it was my identity as a Dalit woman that decided my profession or it was my profession that decided my social identity.

With WaterAid India, we are talking about the reality of the inhumane practise of manual scavenging in India. Take a look at what YKA users have said so far and how you can be a part.

24. RSS from a class 12 student’s perspective

I’m In Class 12 And I See How My Peers Are Falling Victim To RSS’ Rhetorics

The lack of awareness about Hindu nationalism and its evils, seems like a systemic predicament.

25. Gross human rights violations in Silchar’s paper mill.

‘My People Are Dying’: 1 Lakh Paper Mill Workers Continue To Suffer In Assam

Since 2015, lakhs of mill workers in Silchar, Assam, have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and negligence from authorities is stinging.

26. An exclusive conversation with Dr. Shashi Tharoor on BJP, PM Modi and 2019 elections.

‘Democracy Is Under Threat From The Relentless Assault Of BJP’: Shashi Tharoor To YKA

There is also the gap between rhetoric and reality, the contradiction between a man of action and the disastrous records of his government.

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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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