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Meet Siddhi Joshi, An 18-Y-O Who Made Lockdown An Opportunity To Talk World Peace!

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Global peace. Teens. Best Speaker. India—I vividly remember these words when they flashed in a post from a common friend on Facebook, a few days back. The opportunity to speak to this teenager was irresistible. Our wavelengths matched, and we got connected.

Siddhi Joshi, 18, who’s like a shining star in a human body’s guise, is dreaming of a brighter future even amid the anxiousness and fear of Covid-19. A period that has left many her age worried and clueless about the future.

She is thinking about humankind. Or does she just fancy this word? My curiosity to know increased even more.

The journalist in me who is also interested in youth and their mindset vis a vis education, peace and happiness, was eager to talk to her. I spoke to her at length to understand more about her thoughts and others her age in this competitive and strife-stricken world—a world where all the bright brains mostly end up monetising their ideas or aspire to land high-paying white-collar jobs. Living for others is rarely seen; it’s neither talked about at home nor in schools.

Siddhi Joshi. Image provide by the author.

Siddhi is presently an ambassador for Global Peace Institute (UK), which awarded her the prize for the best speaker at the Global Youth Peace Summit, this month (June 2020). She is actively participating in building a world full of love, kindness and justice around her. The Global Peace Institute (GPI) boasts of being a global think tank working for global peace and resilience.

Carrying an unabated spirit to create dialogues, she believes that the exchange of ideas is a powerful way to initiate a change. “I am committed to taking actions for the things I believe in and the changes I want to bring about through the path of sharing, collaborating, coming together and creating a better world under the umbrella of humanity.”

When asked what drove her to be a speaker at the summit, she said, “To be honest, I discovered this wonderful opportunity out of boredom, I would like to think that perhaps events choose us instead of being the other way round! During this lockdowncation (I think I have created that word haha) I ended up trying hands at quite some things like Model United Nation Conferences, Coursera courses, Art Journaling, etc. So I was simply on my way to discover more and make the most of this phase that comes with the positive of comparatively more abundant time.”

“Little did I know that I would end up having a personal and positive connection with this  organisation brimming with love and peace, and go on to become a teen ambassador. I simply wanted to listen to the plethora of ideas and present my own in a moderated environment because active participation is more important than winning,” she added.

Siddhi’s high spirit and dreams are reflected in her words: “I don’t just dream, but actively try to build the future I envision. I have just passed Grade 12 from DPS Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, and I am looking eagerly for majoring in Political Science and minoring in Psychology. I support conversations on mental health as I seek to acknowledge and eradicate the stigma around it.

I have been an exchange student to the US in the past under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Programme, which is funded by the US Department of States. It has been the most fulfilling and exciting year of my life so far. It gave me the first-hand chance to engage in over 112 hours of community service!”

Giving presentations about India, learning Spanish and being selected to participate in the Civic Education Week were some of the key highlights of her exchange year—with various other accolades to her collection.

When asked about the three things she would like to do to encourage teens and youth in India and the world, she said,“I shall be talking about my personal experiences with compassion, humanity and community service. This is how all of us can practice it in our own big and small ways. A seemingly small something can be so impactful and travel a long way. I constantly try to mirror the ideals I stand for. Secondly, raising awareness about the issues I feel for, and advocating for them, while shedding insights on the steps that can be taken to solve the issue. For example, actively talking about well-being and mental health. Social media can be a potent tool for this.”

Something that really moved me as an ordinary person and a mother of two was, “I will be earning and then putting resources out there to create positive changes and working for the same, which is essentially setting an example. There are so many times I wish I had ‘xyz’ money to do something for the things that ache my heart (these days it’s the plight of Yemen) and so being in a position like that becomes a responsibility rather than a goal. Life is so much about doing for others; even an ant can fill its own stomach.”

What else you do, Siddhi? I asked her. “With an insatiable love for art and words, I take time for reading, writing and creating, but most of all, I never forget to carry extra smiles and sunshine in my pockets wherever I go”, with this we closed the conversation.

She’s brought great pride not just to her parents but to our entire nation and the world.

Siddhi scored 98.8% in CBSE Boards in Humanities, but this feat appears tiny compared to the bigger self she carries.

(The writer is Founder, Amigoz Sphere, a platform dedicated to teenagers, Consultant- brand strategy and communication, and an Ex-TOI Journalist)

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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