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Here Are 17 Inspiring Stories By YKA Writers With Disability

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Around a billion people live with some disability across the world, which roughly makes it 15% of the total population of the world. Each year, December 3rd is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities or World Disability Day. The day is meant to create awareness on the rights of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life.

Every year, the day has a different theme to encourage society to strive towards removing attitudinal and structural barriers for people with disability, while focusing on that particular yearly goal. The 2019 theme for International Day of People with Disability is “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.”

According to the UN, 2019’s theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issue.

So how can individuals get involved in breaking down the barriers for people with disability and make our society more accessible for them? As we strive together to work towards this goal, here are some inspirational stories from some YKA users with disability who understood the power of writing and wrote these impactful stories on the platform to promote awareness on disability rights:

1. Mental Health Warriors: When ‘Disability’ Is a Life Sentence

“When you’re a person living with a disability, you not only deal with the limitations of your own body and limitations of the infrastructure, but you also deal with the limitations of other people’s attitude. It impacts you in ways that you don’t realise immediately”  writes Sweta Mantrii.

Read the full story here.

2. Years After Passage Of Disability Act, Digital Accessibility In India Still A Distant Dream

“Despite the growing progress in technology and India’s home-grown initiatives like Digital India and Make in India—we yet have a long way to go to provide an inclusive space for People with Disabilities”, writes Nipun Malhotra

Read the full story here.

3. Disability Is No Reason To Not Be Treated As Equals by Shorya Sood

“I have cerebral palsy, and I am physically challenged. Due to the transferable nature of my father’s job, I had to change schools on a frequent basis and changing school every time became a tedious task for me, as even today most of the schools deny admission to persons with disabilities”, writes Shorya Sood

Read the full story here.

4. Inspiration Porn Is A Reality, And It Needs To Stop!  Srishti Pandey

“Inspiration porn can be defined as the portrayal of disabled people as inspirational, merely or on the basis of their disability. Just like people watch porn to feel good, similarly some people look at the disabled and objectify them to feel good about the fact that they are not in the place of the disabled”, writes Srishti Pandey

Read the full story here.

5. As A Woman With Cerebral Palsy I Reclaimed My Desire For Love Through Writing

YKA user Vinanyan Khurana

“Initially, I never wanted to tell him about my feelings. Then, thinking progressively, I gathered courage and expressed my love for him. Demurely he told me that he respected my feelings, but couldn’t love me the way I did. I was shattered, but glad to know that we would be friends forever. It was my first brush with love as well as rejection”, writes Vinayana Khurana.

Read the full story here.

6. A Letter To Indian Society: Why The Definition Of Accessibility Needs To Evolve

“Inclusivity is just not limited to infrastructural accessibility, but includes acceptance, by society, as an equal part of it. Our definition of accessibility is sometimes lifting up the person in a wheelchair to climb up whatever levels are required. Not only that is disrespectful but it is nothing close to accessibility”, writes Gauri Gupta.

Read the full story here.

7. The Venus Flytrap: How I Survived An Abusive Marriage As A Woman With Disabilities by Payal Kapoor

“When things continued to get worse, I realised that it would be very difficult for me to stay. But I was perpetually frightened and insecure — did I have the courage to be on my own?”, writes Payal Kapoor.

Read the full story here.

8. ‘Wheelchair Pe Hokar Aise Kapde?’ And 4 Things I Am Asked As A Woman With Disability

Disability rights activist Pratishtha Deveshwar

“The society does not expect me to smile, wear nice clothes and take selfies. It rather expects me to sit in a wheelchair with a grim expression and a dull face. My actions confused, irritated and angered them. Over the span of six years of my disability, I have learnt a few things about the perception of people regarding a girl on a wheelchair”, writes Activist Pratishtha Deveshwar.

Read the full story here.

9. How Surviving Polio Has Impacted My Personality

“Polio, which caused the asymmetrical freezing of my muscles, not only shaped my body, but also moulded my personality. A virus—something that itself exists on the border between being alive and dead—had the power to write the manuscript of my life.”, writes Abha Khetarpal.

Read the full story here.

10. What It Takes To Understand The Intimate Core Of My Disabled Self

Leading disability rights activist Anita Ghai

“While the disability experience records the pain and anguish of disabled lives, families and their disabled children both learn to resist the stigma of disability. My family was affected by the polio story, and the theme song was a ‘quest’ for a ‘cure.’ All through my life, I have negotiated with shamans, gurus, ojhas, tantric priests, and faith healers, as well as miracle cures — all to ensure that I could become a part of ‘normative’ hegemony”, writes leading disability activist Anita Ghai.

Read the full story here.

11. A Life Worth Living: My Story Of Coming To Terms With My Disability

“I sat looking outside the window with an oxygen mask, my body scarred, pain and chaos all around me; coping with a surgery that would eventually lead to starting a new life. A doctor walks in and tells me that I had lost the ability to walk, but I must not stop living”, writes Mrinalini Mallick.

Read the full story here.

12. How I Turned My Speech Disability Into My Greatest Strength

“A tendency to stammer while talking, whether during general or specific circumstances, can happen to anyone, and the symptoms may be mild or very severe, and the exact psychological causes may never be known and neither may the disability ever be cured. And it doesn’t need to be—there are strategies and therapeutic coping mechanisms to deal with it, like any other medical condition. Instead what we need is more awareness and greater empathy from society at large”, writes Archita Mittra.

Read the full story here.

13. Entering The Field Of Disabled Warriors: A Look At Accessible Video Games

“Advancement in gaming technology has revolutionised coordination, controls and graphics, making the gaming experience almost lifelike for the viewers. However, progress has been slow in the sphere of disabled-friendly gaming, which is picking up with international actors taking the lead”, writes Nipun Malhotra.

Read the full story here.

14. I Was Laughed At For My Disability, Until I Became An International UN Volunteer

YKA user Rupmani Chhetri

“As the first deaf Indian woman volunteering with the UN, the opportunity I was given in Ukraine had a life-changing impact on me. I worked towards spreading awareness about disability rights. I traveled across Europe, and exchanged experiences between India and Ukraine; between the East and the West”, writes Rupmani Chhetri.

Read full story here.

 

15. Stammering And Discrimination: The Nuances Behind Invisible Disabilities

“In certain circumstances, a stammer needs to be addressed as a disability that requires as much attention as visible disabilities do”, writes Alolika Dutta.

Read the full story here.

16. 5 Visually Impaired Comedians Who Are Shattering Disability Myths

“The sorry, stereotypical image of the blind man who pities himself and hates the sighted world is not what you will see if you ever happen to be at the shows of one of these comedians. Their ability to view the humour in situations makes for great stories that audiences can crack up to.”

Read the full story here.

17. Why Sexual Rights Are Human Rights For People With Disabilities

“Radha was lucky that she had access to someone who could give her non-judgmental and accurate information related to sexuality, rather than dismissing her concerns. Unfortunately, for most of the millions of people in India with disabilities, this is far from reality.”

Read the full story here.

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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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