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The Freedom Prize “Prix Liberté” took place in the Normandy region of France from 12th February 2020 and 17th February 2020 where 24 international members of the jury between the age of 15 and 25, selected 3 finalists of the freedom project. The 24 members of the jury came from 12 different countries including Germany, Togo, France, Madagascar, the United States of America, India, Cambodia, Lebanon, Spain, Colombia, Egypt, and Ireland.

The members of the jury of Freedom Prize 2020. picture credits :  © Julien Buyck
The members of the jury of Freedom Prize 2020. picture credits: © Julien Buyck

The deliberation started with the inter-cultural workshops and the study of 167 proposals. This year the organization received 167 proposals which were studied well by the jury members. It was implemented with the International Institute of Human Rights and Peace in collaboration and partnership with the academic authorities of Normandy and the Canope network. The main aim and objective of the Freedom Prize are to encourage, motivate and pay a tribute to all the people who have fought or are still fighting for a cause.  

During the deliberation. picture credits: © Julien Buyck

What is the Freedom Prize?

The freedom prize is an initiative taken by the Normandy region in France to spread awareness of freedom, peace, and human rights. This prize is inspired by the values of the D-Day landings of 6th June 1944 in Normandy, France.

The Benefits of Freedom Prize

The winner of the freedom prize will receive a sum of 25,000 Euros and recognition to keep fighting for freedom and human rights. The winner of the freedom prize 2019 was Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist from Sweden.

Who are the 3 Finalists of the Freedom Prize 2020?

  1. Loujain Al Hathloul the 30 years old woman activist from Saudi Arabia, fighting for the freedom of expression of women, emancipation of women in relation to men.
  2. Pere Pedro Opaka, 71 years old Argentinian founder of the AKAMASOA association. He fights the right to decent housing, education, and health for the people of Madagascar.
  3. Nasrin Sotoudeh, the 56 years old Nasrin is an Iranian woman who is fighting for women’s rights, gender equality, and personal freedom.

The 3 finalists will now go through an online voting process from 9th march to 12 April 2020 and the winner will be announced this June.

Why is Freedom Prize important?

To my opinion, a lot is happening in this world which we are unaware of. Gender inequality, domestic violence, child marriage, climate change, human trafficking are some of the main problems existing in society. People are fighting for LGBT rights, right to education, right to decent housing and health and much more. Freedom Prize is an initiative and a source of appreciation and encouragement for all those fighting for a cause. Freedom prize appreciates all the individuals and organizations who are daily working to provide a better environment to the others.

As a member of the Jury from India, I am highly motivated to see such young and old people fighting for the same cause but in different manners. I would like to congratulate everyone and not only the 3 finalists because it’s all about a social cause. Together we will make a change. I would also like to pass on a word of advice to all the youngsters in this world that it is not just you and me but it is the “The Us” who have to raise our voice for justice. Look around you and see through the eyes of the people who are suffering each day. Some people are helpless but we are not. We can be the voice of the others and help them. It is time to speak up and fight for your rights to live in a peaceful world full of happiness.

My personal experience as a member of the jury

Since 2013, I am raising my voice for human rights in several manners on a very personal level. When I got selected to be a member of the jury I was happy and excited. For me, it was all about putting my freedom thoughts in front of the others and learn from them their expressions and meaning of freedom. To my surprise, it happened to be very successful than I thought. My participation in this project gave me the confidence to carry on my future fights to the next level. It taught me that even if you are alone fighting, keep going, people will join you ultimately when feel your presence. 

picture credits: © Julien Buyck

Freedom is your responsibility, freedom is your voice and freedom is your action.

 I would like to thank all the people who are a part of this freedom project. It was an honor to work with you all and take back home strong teachings

in frame Emmanuel Davidenkoff, deputy editor of the Le Monde newspaper and president of the jury(top), Maxime Sauve (down-right), Jonas Bochet(down-middle), Clemance Bisson (down-left).

The Normandy region, Emmanuel Davidenkoff (the president of the jury and editor-in-chief of Le Monde), Jonas Bochet(director of the International Institute of Peace and Human rights), Benoist Chippaux(in charge of the mission), Clemance Bisson (coordinator of educational programs), Thomas Meslier (service civique) et Maxime Sauve ( apprentice charge of freedom prize)

Thank you to all the members of the jury, Yomna (Egypt), Elise (France), Abdullah (France), Debora (France), Mathis (France), Amel (France), Zoe (Spain), Pi (Cambodia), Lucas (France), Rouba (Lebanon), Cassie (Unites States), Swana (France), Camille (France), Kate (Ireland), Theo (France), Axelle (France), Andres (Colombia), Emile (France), Myriam (Canada), Ronny (Madagascar), Djemilatou (Burkina Faso), Guillaume (France), Kodjo (Tojo).

© Julien Buyck


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    I have always known you as the strongest woman, keep going

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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.

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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, 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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