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Safoora Zargar, Breonna Taylor: Remember Their Names

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Safoora Zargar is a 27-year-old M Phil scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is a student activist and Media Coordinator of Jamia Coordination Committee. She has been actively participating in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests that had sparked across the country.

Ever since the Bill was introduced in the floor of the Parliament’s House, activists, human rights organizations, international agencies have come out to categorically describe the legislation as discriminatory to the Muslims. What emerged was the largest resistance movement of recent India. Every city and town gathered in solidarity, showed up on the streets to reject the law that violates the secular nature of the Constitution.

The government tried every measure of repression to end the uprising, but the spirit of the protests remained enduring.

In the last week of February, there were multiple waves of bloodshed, property destruction and rioting in North-East Delhi. Homes were burnt; people were lynched on streets in broad daylight. The Muslim community majorly faced the wrath of the violence. What seems to be caused by provocative speeches and mobilization of communal sentiments is now being called a conspiracy of anti-CAA protestors by the Delhi Police.


Ever since the government announced the lockdown due to Covid19, Delhi Police has arrested several peaceful protestors, students, activists, frontline human rights defenders. Among which is Safoora Zargar.

As of today, she is 21 weeks pregnant and suffers from several other pregnancy-related health problems like polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD) that increases her chances of a miscarriage. It has been two months that a pregnant woman is being locked up in a solitary cell. She has been denied bail thrice, even on humanitarian grounds with worsening health concerns.

No matter which shade of the political spectrum you lie on, this is violation of basic human rights. It is way beyond politics or religion or gender. It is something that should concern all of us, as free thinking citizens of what we still call a democracy.

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician. After midnight, on 13th March, the Louisville Police used a battering ram to crash into her apartment and after a brief confrontation, they fired several shots, striking her eight times at least.

The police were investigating two men involved in selling drugs, far away from Taylor’s house. But on suspicion that they might have used Miss Taylor’s apartment to receive packages, the police were granted a search warrant. They ended up killing the young woman by shooting eight times without any fault of hers.

Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer said how she had dreams of working in the healthcare, becoming a nurse, buying a home, starting a family. And everything just shattered within a few minutes. Breonna’s killers are out there, roaming free, with all charges against them being dismissed.

Today, Breonna Taylor would have turned 27. On her birthday, we just wish her soul rests in peace and hope for her justice.

I am telling you these stories because these will not go down in history books. Even social media will forget them after a few weeks when the performative wokeness of so many will fade away. These stories are of resistance against systemic oppression. These stories personify courage and resilience.

Though I would like to call Safoora and Breonna my heroes, I do not intend to romanticize their pain and struggle. The system failed them. Such gross violation of human rights in a democracy is shameful. Young women are paying the price of systemic failures.

I want you to remember their names. Remember their stories.

There is another thing that I would like to bring light upon. If you call yourself a feminist, you cannot choose to be silent about Safoora or Breonna. If your feminism is not inclusive of intersections like race or religion, then sorry, it is not feminism. Your feminism cannot be selective outrage or conveniently apolitical. Feminism is political.

So, it is crucial for us to understand why black women or Muslim women or trans women are more vulnerable, oppressed, marginalized than a white, cisgendered, heterosexual woman. It is crucial to understand that marginalization is multilayered and power structures super impose upon one another. So, intersectionality is the only way to go forward if one has to stay true to a cause.

So, yes. Safoora Zargar. Breonna Taylor. Remember their names. Say their names. Let your feminism be intersectional.

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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, 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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