This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Risking Her Life To Spread Awareness In Her Village, Savita Is A True Corona Warrior!

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

ReimagineTogether logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #ReimagineTogether, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with UNICEF India, YuWaah and Generation Unlimited, to spark conversations to create a new norm and better world order in the post-pandemic future. How have you and those around you coped with the pandemic? Join the conversation by telling us your COVID story and together, let's reimagine a safer, better and more equal future for all!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

By UNICEF, Maharashtra

Ask anybody about any child in the village Wandhli, and you will be directed to Savita Chaudhari’s house and not the family of that child. Savita is a 26-year-old married woman managing family and agricultural work. She volunteered to work with children and women when the Gram Panchayat decided to focus more on the women and children’s development.

Savita Chaudhari

She receives no monetary returns for this work she has been doing since 2017-18 in an initiative called ‘Child and Gender Friendly Panchayat’ supported by UNICEF Maharashtra. Ask her why she does the work which does not give anything in return, and she replies “Who says I get nothing, I get respect and satisfaction of doing something worthwhile.”

The children in her village are her strength and motivation, and she ensures that they are safe and happy during COVID-19 pandemic. Children’s life has been disturbed a lot due to this pandemic which led to the closure of schools and restricted them to their own houses.

Savita was determined to ensure that children are engaged in constructive activities during this period too. She organised ‘Bal Sabha’ for children to come together in small groups where all the norms of social distancing are followed. She used this platform to spread awareness on COVID-19 and the safety and preventive measures one should take like frequent hand washing, physical distancing and wearing a mask.

The session did not limit to just explaining the concept but also how to practice it and follow it all the time. To keep children engaged in meaningful activities, Savita has also started a tree plantation drive with the support of Gram Panchayat. To increase the awareness within families, she also organised sessions with women from self-help groups and supported the Panchayat in creating awareness about COVID-19. Since masks were hard to get in the villages, she facilitated the production of masks by SHGs.

She continued to support the Panchayat in all its initiatives; the blood donation camp organised by them saw Savita actively promoting it. She convinced the young people in the village to donate blood by leveraging her respectful status in the village. However, she doesn’t forget to add that “Sarpanch, teachers, citizens especially youth, are to be appreciated for their efforts and contribution towards the successful organisation of the blood donation camp.”

The lockdown period also happens to be the period when the Gram Panchayat revised its Development Plan and seeing this as an opportunity, Savita facilitated a Bal Panchayat meeting, where children discussed immediate issues concerning them. The demands raised by Bal Panchayat included initiatives on COVID-19 management and health and hygiene issues. Savita made sure children’s voices are reflected in the GP Plan.

Representational image.

Accordingly, GP distributed dustbins, sanitizers, soaps for better personal and household hygiene. All lanes in the village were equipped with dustbins for wet and dry waste. Long-standing demand from children for pure drinking water was met during the GPDP plan revision, and now, a filter water purification plant is installed, and everyone is getting filtered water. Sanitizer spraying happens frequently, thanks to Bal Panchayat demands, strategically facilitated by vigilant and proactive volunteer Savita.

The saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ perfectly fits Savita. Sensing food insecurity of some needy families, she started collecting food-grains from affluent families to be distributed to the needy ones. Seeing these small but important efforts, GP extended further support and collected food-grains in large quantities, a surplus of which was handed over to the police station for further distribution to those in need.

Heroes like Savita are the need of the hour, especially in times where people are panicking, and there’s so much stigma and fear that’s keeping people apart physically, and in some cases, socially too. She is the hope, motivation and asset any society can ask for. Risking one’s life when most prefer to sit at home, keeping motivation levels high while most are feeling low, and finding ways to address immediate problems despite having no resources, could only be done by souls like Savita. People like her are the real corona warriors. UNICEF is proud to have worked with such volunteers.

Savita is one of the voluntary facilitators trained by UNICEF under the Child and Gender-Friendly Panchayat programme piloted in Chandrapur. Many facilitators like her are working in many GPs in Maharashtra to inform children about their rights, creating platforms for them to interact with their respective panchayats and making sure their voices are heard. She supports the Gram Panchayat in their journey towards being child- and gender-friendly.

This post is a part of COVID Diaries, a special series under the #ReimagineTogether campaign. Tell us how this lockdown and pandemic has affected you! Join the conversation by adding a post here. here.
You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By srishtishankar

By YLAC

By Pallavee Dhaundiyal Panthry

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below