This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aggam Walia. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Men Should Play An Active Role In Breaking Traditional Notions Of Masculinity

More from Aggam Walia

I was at Connaught Place, New Delhi, a few days ago and something very interesting happened. My friends and I were conducting a survey on gender inequality. We approached a mixed group of college students chatting outside a cafe and asked them if they would be willing to answer a few questions. As soon as we said the questions concerned ‘gender inequality’, the men simply walked away sniggering, leaving the women to answer our questions. Their reaction by itself showed why the feminist movement is still struggling to gain momentum. It is because most men think that gender equality is none of their business!

I asked the women left behind, what they thought of this. “It’s because they are not facing these issues”, one of them observed. While that is true, is it a justifiable excuse? Will we participate in a movement only if it directly concerns us? Are we not capable of empathy? Can’t we, as Harper Lee famously put it, “Climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it?” Besides, the reason women face these issues is because of historical discrimination and apathy by men. Therefore, it becomes men’s responsibility to participate in this movement.

I strongly feel that it is crucial for men to be active participants within the movement. In the long-term, we need to instill these values in our children. “Children need to be aware of how much women have been historically discriminated against and how feminism is required to equalize [this]”, wrote a respondent in one of the online surveys I had conducted. Our education system tends to put the burden of change on girls alone. Girls are told to work hard, pursue their dreams and be successful if they have a problem with traditional patriarchy. But, are boys ever told what their role in all of this could be? 

We need to teach our boys, brothers, husbands, and fathers to know that they should be a part of this movement. They need to know that they should pitch in to do household chores and that being a ‘home-maker’ is nothing to be ashamed of. They need to know that sharing financial control with their partner is not a ‘sign of weakness’. Men need to know that it is okay to show emotions and not let traditional ideas of masculinity pressure them to conform to a certain idea of what a ‘man’ should be.

Above all, men should have the courage to stand up to incidents of blatant inequality. For instance, I was having lunch with my friend at a restaurant last month and when we finished eating, she asked the waiter for the bill. He came back with it and gave it to me. While he was standing there, I handed the bill to my friend because she was going to pay with her card. She asked the waiter for the card machine. He came back and gave the machine to me. Again, I handed over the machine to her, saying, “She will pay”. When my friend returned the machine, the waiter turned to me and said, “Thank you, Sir”. That’s when I lost my cool and I told him what he did was stereotypical and unfair. My friend was the one who was paying, so why was he addressing me all this while? I realised that he is also a part of the society we live in and is only responding to the expectations that society has from men. 

I feel that when men become active participants in bringing about this change, it will boost the movement. We can overcome these stereotypes only when we are all collectively involved in the process. So, to all those who still believe that gender inequality is only what a woman should care about- no, it is not. It is our collective responsibility! 

About the author:
Aggam Walia is a student of the High School Achievers Program conducted by Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC). The High School Achievers Program identifies promising high schoolers and builds their capacity to lead change. This post was published as a part of the 2019 Delhi edition of the program.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author’s and do not represent the views of YLAC as an organisation.

Feature Image Credit: Weheartit.com
You must be to comment.
  1. Regula Ram

    Thank you for sharing the restaurant episode. I guess, as your assumption is true, (many men think gender equality is none of their business), only few men will have read this article.

    Let’s highlight the positive examples. My “mama” showed me the diaries of nana and of nana’s father recently. Obviously, the diaries are very interesting and bring back the old times, along with various aspects of life as people lived life at the time. I don’t know whether my mami kept telling her husband that women can do anything that men can. I don’t know whether the fact that my mami has a profession made things clear for my mama. What I can say for sure: My mama said: “It’s sad that in the old days nobody thought women could write their own diary. Now the stories of their lives are missing, which is really sad.”

  2. Vaibhav Gaikwad

    Half of the so called feminist don’t know what feminist is ment for.
    The thing is feminism is about gender equality but is it possible on biologically men are different women are different so there always going to be some things that are going to be different with genders the only thing every person is entitled to do that understand each other choices and support them, not every thing men and women are entitled to do we should accept that and help each other to achieve equality to that certain extent and help each other’s where only they can fo the job

More from Aggam Walia

Similar Posts

By Ankit Raghav

By Sewa International

By Sewa International

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below