My YKA Action Network Experience Was Intensive, But Eye-Opening

Period Paath logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC, to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management among menstruating persons in India. Join the conversation to take action and demand change! The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

Being a journalist, I have worked on stories around gender and hygiene, and so, I was excited to know I was selected for the YKA Action Network fellowship on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).

At the 2-day boot camp in Delhi, at PRIA, we took part in interactive activities that boosted our knowledge about MHM-related issues prevalent in the country, government policies in place to tackle it and various other related issues.

On the first day of the fellowship, all the change-makers were introduced to each other through a fun activity to help us get to know each other better, and we were divided into groups of six.

Over the course of the 2-day fellowship, we bonded with each other through day-long activities on understanding modules, creating solutions together, and understanding the issue at hand through a global as well as a local lens.

The first session for the day was based on understanding the dynamics of campaign building. Through stories published at YKA by numerous writers, we were made to understand the impact of good stories that started subsequent campaigns or ushered in a chain of social change.

Even though I have succeeded in managing digital campaigns, this was the first time I learned how to build one from scratch, and that too, with people I didn’t know before. We were made familiar with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in relation to MHM.

After this, each team had to finish an activity where we had to draw connections with the SDG that helped us map our campaign strategy at various stages. This activity gave us a global and grass-root glimpse of challenges and solutions related to MHM.

It was an enriching experience, as we had fellows who had been working at the local level, as well as the national level, and had refreshing perspectives and informed us about real-time challenges. This helped us improve the efficiency and practicality of our campaigns.

Before starting on our campaign, we were equipped with basics of a campaign by Anshul Tiwari, founder of YKA, who helped us break down our plan into “Knowing the Problem Statement, Identifying the Vision. Identifying Core Strategy and Monitoring Impact.”

Identifying the problem statement sounded easy, but as we navigated further into deciding strategy, we realised how crucial and critical it is to form one. After the formulation of our problem statement, we were asked to dig deeper into the contexts and areas we were aiming for in our campaign.

This helped us identify different stakeholders and helped us brainstorm on the different available approaches to chart out implementation. At the end of day one, each group presented their ideas and were given final suggestions, by the mentors, on how to improve it.

Between all the hustle of work and life, this was a much-needed experience that I was looking for. It was an intensive experience, spending an entire day brainstorming with a bunch of strangers, on issues that I feel strongly about.

It helped me rebuild my belief in the power of ideas and interactions that can help us get better perspectives on an issue that we thought we know everything about. Learning didn’t feel like a burden, and I was already looking forward to day two!

Day two was all about working on our individual campaigns along with the learnings from the previous day. The afternoon session with Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, from The Wire, helped me rebuild my belief in the power of personal stories and the impact they have.

She elaborated on the important role played by journalists in bringing an issue to the mainstream and spreading awareness on policies through impact stories. The session was a reminder of the possibilities of a better future, and maybe, my words could play a part in bringing that change.

I was filled with hope and was all set to work on my ideas, equipped with information, moving towards action. We were guided well by mentors from the YKA team who were with us all day, helping refine our ideas.

The day wrapped up with a fun activity where everyone shared their learnings from the workshop. All of us were advised to work on our ideas and develop them into effective campaigns.

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