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Can Communication Be The Solution To The Growing Intolerance?

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The growing intolerance in society clearly implies that we do not like to accommodate everyone’s opinions; we do not treat them with the same respect as we do ours. There are hate and rage among all regarding almost everyone around them. Be it inter-racial intolerance, inter-religion or between family members and friends. According to popular opinion, the key to dilute the rage around us is communication with our peers. But when the tools with which we are equipped to converse with one another are themselves flawed, what does one do?

Communicating your point of view is deemed to be healthy and regarded as the solution to all problems the two parties involved are facing. But there are several prerequisites for the conversation to be successful that are often missed. First and foremost is treating the other person devoid of all his vices and as equal to yourself so that you can treat their opinions equal to yours. The second prerequisite, which is often ignored is to just focus on the words coming right at that moment from the other person’s mouth. This happens to be a no-brainer, but this is why even after communicating with one other, anyone hardly reaches to any solution.

The growing intolerance in society clearly implies that we do not like to accommodate everyone’s opinions. Image via Unsplash

Whenever we are conversing with a person, we are not waiting for the words to come out from his mouth to form an opinion about them in our mind. Rarely anyone waits for the whole conversation to end to finally form an opinion about the other person, based on the points they put forward. In our minds, an opinion is already formed. Based on their appearance, their style of speaking, opinion of them is already made in our minds. Or, if the person is someone close to you, you have already formed their impression in your mind and align the words coming out of their mouth to your preconceived notion about them of how they were in the past, which can be totally misleading.

Your parents, partner, friends do listen to what you are saying and are in perennial efforts to improve your relationship with them. While you are accustomed to act and answer to the personality they were in the past, they might have changed and are now offering you kindness, support and solutions which were needed in the first place.

People are generally incapable of significant change. They are, however, capable of adopting minor habits which can build up to be a bigger change in future. And we have to be aware of these small changes happening in the other person when we are talking to them regularly and sharing with them our daily woes. This interference of our pre-formed notions about the other in our conversations with them can happen on any topic.

Whether you are discussing your financial problems with your partner, your emotional ones with parents, your professional ones with your colleagues, or in a much larger scope, where you are discussing the importance of various religious sects to the person belonging to a diverse religion like a Hindu-Muslim conversation. This interference is happening all the time with you and others without you even noticing it.

The third prerequisite for the conversations to be healthy is to give the other person space to be themselves and avoid judging them. We often categorize people based on their actions and put them in a category which suits us best. Going forward, we look at them with that perspective only. The thing to remember here is that everyone is a unique amalgamation of their social conditioning, parenting, schooling and peers. No one person can be similar to others. Then why judge the other person if their actions don’t align with your conceived notions about being good or sincere.

Everyone’s definition of that term and the way they choose to implement those traits in their lives can be different. And one cannot know it all. No matter how basic emotions like love, hate, kindness, support are to every human, the implementation of the emotion in their daily lives varies from person to person. Like DNA, even if it’s copied from centuries, no one DNA is the same among the trillion lives that have been lived on this Earth.

Communication is no doubt the greatest tool which is used to navigate through life and with our peers smoothly and happily. But with it, there’s another equally important tool. Perceiving the person’s words and actions in a literal form, and not attaching it to any internal bias of yours or to any formed notion about their materialistic belongings which doesn’t speak anything about the person’s core values and beliefs.

If we all deviate our attention from the symbolic meaning and focus on the literal meaning of the conversation, we might be able to understand the other person’s true intentions and how they can be different from past. The art of conversation can take the human race to heights. Thus we must hone it constantly devoid of any biases to have a peaceful and less intolerant environment for all to live.

Featured image via Unsplash
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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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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