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If You Think ‘Parents Nahi Maanenge Yaar’, This Article Is For You!

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CoVID 19 has made families come together under one roof. A consequence of sharing a roof is heated political discussions amongst the family members. Though some of us are averse to the idea of political engagement with our parents, many of us are not, and I am one amongst the latter. If one is an aware and responsible citizen, they tend to be vocal about their socio-political opinions.

But inside our homes, that loud voice can come with consequences, from simple ones like jibes about our ‘weakness’ to more serious ones that try to curtail our physical, social, and intellectual freedom.

Representational image. Source: Flickr

In this scenario, it is understandable why some of us tend to avoid ‘politics’ at home. But if we choose to undertake this endeavour, understanding the basic dynamics of such an interaction might come in handy. Parents have a particular worldview which is ‘limited’ in most sense. The reason why I call it limited is that most of it is based on their anecdotal experiences or the bubble created by the media.

Social media platforms like their WhatsApp groups, Facebook, and the immediate surroundings become an echo-chamber where they can hearsay and resonate with similar thoughts. The other medium is TV news that has been reduced to propaganda with no substantial information and which only fans empty jingoism. It helps build an idea of our society different from what is in reality.

This idea is generally biased towards conserving most of our cliché ideas (which are highly prejudiced) and hence, the status quo, which they are so reluctant, to do away with. The reason behind their conservatism is that with the passage of years, they grow increasingly insecure about losing what they have gained in life. They don’t want their hard-earned social and economic wealth to deplete in any manner whatsoever.

Consequently, in such a setup, our ideas, which are for obvious reasons quite new for them, are not only seen as something alien and hard to be accepted as truth but also seen as a threat to their values and ‘sanskar’.

As a woman, it becomes even worse. Stereotypically, it is believed that discussing politics is a man’s department. In such a case, having a political belief system itself challenges patriarchy in the face. If we come with a counter-argument to a popular political notion, it might not go down well with the masculine politics at home. This, all the more, depicts the existence of not only a political divide but also a social one.

We Need To Address This Divide

Political beliefs are also reflective of our thoughts about society, in general. There is a social manifestation of our beliefs which we often tend to undermine. For instance, if I support a political party that has its foundation in xenophobic and misogynistic tendencies, it will also speak a lot about what kind of person I am and my individual beliefs and personal ideas.

Political beliefs and ideas that one supports are reflective of the kind of person they are. It also reflects how one perceives the world to be. Amidst the debates when we navigate around conversations related to sensitive issues of caste, class, religion, etc., we might encounter the collective phobias and complexes our parents deal with. In such a situation, we need to make them realize their prejudice and address it. But we need to avoid outright confrontation at such times. It is detrimental to this goal.

Rather, our strategy should be that of humanizing and raising empathy in them is more helpful. Our political views also influence our social and personal life. What my family thinks can affect my life choices as an individual after all. You might be thinking if these arguments with parents worth our effort and time. The answer is – it is worth it.

More often than not, we wrongly assume in our early youth that it will not matter what they think after we achieve something in life but it is simply not the case. Our family does matters to us and so does their approval. Lest their views become an obstacle, it is important that we proactively engage the older generation with us and here are some ways one can do it.

woman sitting on a bridge alone and watching sunset1. Engage in ‘on the spot fact check’ and correct them politely by quoting sources that you got the information from. Here, you just need to make sure that the sources you are quoting from are reliable. In this way, you can debunk the myths and present the real facts.

2. You must have noticed; parents have this tendency of changing the goalpost/ target once we are near to debunking the argument. They do this by engaging in whataboutery. In such a case, we need to spot the bad argument and not let it deter us.

3. We need to acquaint them with reliable media sources and burst bubbles occasionally. Last but not the least, we need to keep in mind that shaming is never a solution. It does no good and often makes the other person repulsive. Therefore, what we need to do is to find common grounds. It will not only make them relate to our thoughts but will also pave the way for them to realize the broader picture where we all need to be a bit more empathetic, especially when we speak of gross injustices that we are witnessing in our times. Keeping all this in mind, it is high time we stand up for our political beliefs and change the narrative for the society at large.

Featured image is used for representational purposes.

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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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