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Women Need To Stop Being Mean To Each Other

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“Aurat hi Aurat ki Dushman hoti hai!!(Women are each others’ enemy)” is a very common phrase that we all encounter every now and then. In fact, it’s not something rare to see how women demean each other in the worst way possible. We always say that patriarchy threatens the dignity of women, and how they are disrespected and humiliated by men. But if we talk about society, why do we forget that society comprises both genders. Women form the other half of society, and are to some extent, responsible for their own plight. We keep coming across incidents in our lives, where they can be seen shaming their own kind.

Of course, the indignities meted out to women by men cannot be justified in any way, but at the same time its a sheer irony that females are mean to each other as well. Over the years, as I grew up,  I realized that a woman is judged on every account. Be it the way she dresses, walks, talks or the people that she hangs out with. No matter what we do, we are never good enough for society, and in case of any mishap, the fault always lies with us. But what is saddening, is the fact that even women brazenly shame each other, and perpetuate the patriarchal mindset further.

Following are the few categories of such women/girls who are bolstering the sexist mindset and making lives of their own kind miserable :

The gossipmongers: “Arey Ladkiyan toh gossip karti hain, (Women gossip)”, funny as it may sound, but there is no denying the fact that the phrase reeks of sexist prejudices. And the so-called ‘’gossip girls’’ or ‘’Gossip aunties’’ are well acquainted with this catchphrase. Let me elaborate who these people are; they are the one who will judge you no matter what. Even if you are slightly different from what is considered ‘conventional’, you will be on their radar. They are a bunch of women who have the notion that they can somehow change the way a person is, by demeaning them. Basically, they are bullies. And most of the time, their common victims are young girls’ and women who are trying to live their lives on their own terms.

The ones with judgy eyes: These women are not really gossip mongers. But they are the ones who have patriarchy deeply instilled in their mind. They will just stare down at you hard, and make you uncomfortable with the hate oozing out of their eyes. Social media is a platform where we often come across women spewing venom on each other.

‘’Itne chote kapde pehnegi, yeh toh hona hi tha (She was wearing such a short dress, the incident was bound to happen)’‘.  And it makes me cringe that instead of condemning the behavior of the man or the perpretrator, they actually act as their personal advocates by justifying their actions.  They somehow have this irrational notion that just because a woman is out at night, she is somehow responsible for the crime committed against her.
What a shame!!

The provokers and the golddiggers:   They are basically ‘women’, who think that it’s okay to hit, burn or verbally abuse a woman or provoke someone to do so, for their own selfish motives. We have all seen and heard many cases, where a young bride commits suicide or is burnt alive, just because she didn’t bring enough dowry.

Some are beaten and gang-raped by their own family members, because of the same issue. Most of the times, in such cases, women(mother-in-law, sister-in-law) in the family provoke others against the victim, out of greed and jealousy. When these women make another women suffer, they are disparaging the entire womanhood.
And it is indeed despicable!!

The verbally abusive : ‘What a bitch!’’- why? Because she is looking prettier or has put forth her opinions more accurately than yours. ‘’Oh She is dating another guy today, what a SLUT!’‘- why? Because she was seen hanging out with some guy, other than her boyfriend. ”Have you seen her dress, it’s too short”. ”She is flaunting her legs to invite attention’’- why ? Because she chose to wear something that she really likes.

‘’Wo drink karti hai, Bevadi hai wo (She drinks, she must be loose)”- Why? Because she is drinking alcohol just like men. “Bahut bolti hai. Ladkiyon ko itna nahi bolna chahiye (She talks so much, girls should speak less)”-Why? Because she chose to put her opinion, instead of keeping quiet.

Now, my question is- in the era where we are talking about women-empowerment and feminism, why do we overlook the hatred and jealousy that few women have for each other?  Why don’t we acknowledge this humongous problem in our own gender, where women are constantly bickering, bitching and spreading callous remarks against each other?

Words like ‘cat-fight, gossip girls, gossip-aunties, vamp, whore, slut, bitch’ have become so common in our daily dialect, that we no longer realize, how problematic and belittling of women they really are. Is womanhood really synonymous to these derogatory words? Where are the values that are supposed to bind us together, in our struggle against male chauvinism and sexism? Because honestly, the situation is becoming toxic day by day.

When women harass and deride each other, they give more power to the very forces that have been trying to subjugate them for centuries. We expect a man to respect us. We demand for it, we shout for it, so why the hell do we forget that women must also respect each other.

The world will see you the way you see yourself and treat you the way you treat yourself. Not everything is about society. When we are fighting for our rights, demanding justice for all the wrongs done against us, then why are we allowing our hypocritical and diabolical thinking hamper our growth?

Why instead of supporting and empowering, we are trying to muzzle each others’ opinions? On one hand we are condemning rape and sexual harassment, and on the other hand, we are calling each other all sorts of names.
Why is it so hard for us to mind our own business, and let others live, breathe and flourish?

These are some of the few questions, that we need to ponder upon deeply. Now it’s for us(women) to decide what we want in our lives and which side are we on.  A side where we all are overwhelmed by suffocating societal norms, or the side where we support each other and make the world a better place.

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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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