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Deconstructing The Gender Gap Issue: The Ethical, Moral And Economic Stance

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Imagine, if everyone was forced to wear the same clothes, pursue the same hobbies and have the same number of children, we will start thinking of it as something intolerable. However, we should not expel equality on this basis. It still has worth if we note in terms of certain areas. Equality before the law and equal rights to vote to seem to define the route to living together in peace and harmony. Here, inequality is treated the same as the dress, family or the hobbies discussed earlier.

Much before the first wave of feminism which arose out of urbanism and socialism for women suffrage, there were constant struggles for equality in terms of opportunity and needs for basic needs. Sadly, these got oppressed by the masks of misogyny.

Now that after the third wave of feminism, we stand in an economy that looks ahead for many equal platforms for both men and women. Undoubtedly, from a historical perspective, the world which has its roots laid on patriarchal, matrilineal, communal, socialist and democratic backgrounds has its overall movement of society towards greater equality.

Society Needs To ‘Progress’, Constantly

But the regressive elements are not something avoidable to mention, because the societal system is always in need of progression in terms of both “learning” and “unlearning”.Gender equality is not an issue that only affects women, it implies that half of the population has its potential wasted and at an enormous disadvantage. Despite an increase in awareness about issues affecting women, there are obstacles in front and the improvement continues to stall.

Having a law and its notification does not suffice the actual need for manipulating the societal mindset. Women undoubtedly prove to be not less than men in all spheres of economy and job, but they remain a question of thought about their further advancements in the industrial sector.

The Global Gender Gap Index conveys the differences between men and women in four key areas: health, education, economics, and politics. The women continue to experience a gap in pay, sexual harassment in workplaces and many more issues that solely belong to women.

Here comes our path-breaking intervention by technology, which provides us with tools to tackle gender inequality and bring about women empowerment.

In recent years, there has been this scenario of a sharp decline in women’s’ earnings after the birth of their first child, and that mothers are less likely to get jobs with significant travel and long hours due to negative perceptions about their ability to take up responsible jobs. This way, the role of women of being caregivers made them less privileged. This lack of work flexibility found a new way to counteract and that’s what is “contingent workforce”. The very own idea provided ways to overcome the geographic, physical, social and cultural barriers within any work platform. The work from home platforms like SheWorks! , PowerToFly allow women to access remote and exciting work opportunities. The companies also get to manage their work up to date and are found accountable.

Just like the way I mentioned about the various reasons for which women who wanted equality of opportunities struggled, some wanted even more basic requirements. Authorities and leaders, therefore, started using these tech platforms to showcase the concerns and the queries of the ladies in developing and high-risk areas.  The use of blockchain technology for money handling made it easy for women entrepreneurs to have access and control over their money independent of the male members in their families. Diwali, Digital Grab Bag, VIP Cash are some examples of the abovesaid statement.

Bringing about equality, or more importantly equity in terms of gender, with or without the use of technology, ultimately lies on the effectiveness with which we recognize the different needs of the women in different parts of the world. A proper plan and its right implementation on the targeted issues remains crucial for any further enhancement of our societal structure, in terms of social, political and economic spheres.

For each global problem that we discuss, a series of solutions at local, national, and global levels in areas from healthcare to education is to be considered. Till then, the gender gap remains wide.

It’s also worth mentioning that the need to close the gender gap is not only about ethical or moral value but also economic incentivizing. Women empowerment and their advancement in the job sector could essentially contribute to about $12 trillion to the global market. This, along with technology, is a tool to be used wisely enough to tackle the global constrain.

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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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