10 Feminist Resolutions To Make In 2019, For Equality To Be The New Normal

By Your Friendly Neighbourhood Feminist:

Hello, folks. This is me reporting for duty. As the new year is upon us let’s start 2019 with a clean slate, and other such clichés. Let’s try and reach a healthy space about feminism. I mean, I’m just a feminist standing in front of the internet, asking it to address the communication gap between the true meaning of Feminism and its misinterpretation. How? With these new year resolutions:

Resolution #1: I will be a know-it-all before acting like a know-it-all.

Promise yourself that this year you will try and understand feminism a little better before passing any judgement on it. Whether your opinion is for or against, it should always be well-informed. This might also prove to be an exercise in patience, but god knows we all need it in these times.

Resolution #2: I will not mistake feminism for male-bashing.

Welcome to I-Don’t-Believe-In-Feminism-I-Believe-In-Equality Anonymous. We need to talk. Because what you’re saying is basically the same as “I don’t drink water, I drink H2O”. More often than not, the opinions offered against feminism—like the word itself being accused of having feminine undertones to it—are not fully informed. It’s about liberating people (historically, it was focused on the female gender) from patriarchy and misogyny. It’s not male-bashing. I’ll say it one more time, feminism is not male bashing. This movement was born out of female-bashing, so if it starts bashing the male gender that would all be quite hypocritical, wouldn’t it?

Resolution #3: I will treat feminism and equality as synonyms.

This is the other side of the coin for point #2. Some people who genuinely believe in feminism, who already believe in equality for all genders, often mistake the movement as futile. You see, we were all lucky enough to be born in a time when the feminist movement is caught in an unstoppable momentum. Which is great. But it also makes us take things for granted a bit. So while it’s great that we don’t live in times where we don’t need to fight with the government for the right to vote, our fight now is a little closer to home. Most times, literally. One might be living in a patriarchal household that doesn’t allow them to go out and vote. Or it might be an unfair pay gap based on gender. This list is endless but the point is that the struggle to rid the patriarchy is a little more nuanced now. Because the struggle changes door-to-door. And all that really means is that we have got to have each other’s back a little more.

Resolution #4: I will not assign gender roles.

What a lot of us forget to see is that the equality of genders means all genders. It means the freedom from gender roles. It means that boys can cry when they’re hurt because that’s what fully-functional human beings do. It means that trans women also make good parents. It means that women can earn more than men because women didn’t bust their behinds studying for the Board examinations, and get into top colleges, only to earn less because of the difference of one chromosome. It simply means that your gender does not dictate what you can or can’t do. Period.

Oh, and speaking of…

Resolution #5: I will not treat the word menstruation as a filthy word.

It’s a normal thing that happens every single month. Rather than writing it off as disgusting, let’s talk about it. Let’s educate little children about it. So that no little girl ever has to be taken by surprise when she sees blood in her underwear for the first time. So that she is not ashamed of this very normal thing her body is doing. So that she doesn’t have to be terrified of her own self. Can you imagine that? We’ve been teaching little girls to be afraid and ashamed of something so normal. And we’ve been okay doing that. I call closing time on this. It’s some blood, let’s get over it already.

Resolution #6: I will make better jokes.

We all have read those WhatsApp-forwards, or heard them at awkward social gatherings. The ones normally end with things like “Now that he is married, he has to agree to everything his wife says.” Let us take on the Herculean task of making 2019 the year that that stuff ends. Your homophobia, racism, sexism, or transphobia just cannot serve as a punchline anymore.

As a side note, think about how much better the jokes will get, and as a generation we’ll laugh more, we’ll be happier, and world peace won’t be a distant dream any more. (Ta tada daaaa)

Resolution #7: I will stop pandering to the patriarchy.

We do it in a lot ways, and not all of these are big and obvious ones. For example: Asking people to edit their opinions to fit into the social constructs of a patriarchal society. Assuming that the women at your social gathering won’t drink, for example. It’s all a bit ridiculous. And we just herd along with this stuff, unknowingly. Let’s get a little mindful about it.

Resolution #8: I will not impose social stereotypes on feminists.

Believe it or not, feminists come in all shapes and sizes. One might look like a 60-year-old homemaker. The other might look like a 13-year-old football player. Yet another might look like a suit-wearing corporate moghul. That’s the whole point of feminism—the freedom to be exactly who you are without judgement, without gender roles. So let’s put the statement “But you don’t look like a feminist” to rest.

Resolution #9: I will be chivalrous.

What a lot of us forget is that chivalry is a gender-neutral trait. One cannot expect men to be chivalrous just because they’re men, and one cannot take away the joy of politeness away from women just because they’re women. We should just be a big world of people who open doors for one another and say things like “After you, friend.”

Resolution #10: I will be a better listener.

And this applies to every single one us. We need to hear each other out patiently. Have conducive conversations. Maybe we’ll be wiser by a new nugget of information, or we’ll agree to disagree. Either way we’ll inch closer to a world everyone is an equal. And that’s what it’s all about, really.

That’s all for today folks. Let’s spread the kindness.

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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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