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7 reasons why IIT Guwahati should enrol me

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While I’m awaiting the admission results for MA in Development Studies at IIT Guwahati, this is my attempt to still keep my candidacy in the race. I was quite nervous and my interview didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for it. However, there’s a sentence from that interview that I’m going to hold on to when they do declare the results- “it’s not the end of the world.”

Here are 7 reasons why IIT Guwahati should consider my candidacy for their MA Program:

  1. Motivated* : Around the 8th standard, a social studies teacher was teaching was teaching us the importance of independence for women in terms of how it is almost cyclic with her empowerment. It has ever since stayed with me and motivates me to do what it takes, of course within the line of ethics. I’m motivated to do and GO THAT EXTRA MILE to explore all that IIT Guwahati has to offer in terms of Sports, Extra Curricular, Scholarships, Internships (paid), and Opportunities for collaboration for research– the whole package.
  2. Understand the elasticity of responsibility: I may not have drawn a salary in 3 out of three and a half years of working but neither does that mean the I haven’t worked nor that I lack the experience that comes along with a paycheck. I often feel nervous about saying that I work in my family business assuming that the other person won’t be receptive in a positive way given the popular culture of working in a formal and corporate set-up. If anything, I’ve been on the other side of paycheck, signing them and sending them out timely. And from the experience on this side, one of the most important things that I’ve learnt is that I’m not just responsible for the profit that the business makes and to timely file the IT returns but also that the staff that I employ are more often than not the sole earners of their family and if I don’t do my work, the consequences they will face will be more dire than those that I’ll have to face. While I do understand the elasticity of responsibility, I am learning to take pride in the experience that I have and the dignity of my labour at a HUF MSME.
  3. Two research papers for the price of one? Here are links to two articles that I recently wrote- Can Assam Really afford to shut 17 of its schools?, and #BoycottMadeInChina: India’s Response To Indo-China Standoff Amidst Pandemic – I cannot say I am more inclined towards one because I am not. A lot is happening in the International Relations and the role that women played as- (Banana) plantation workers, diplomatic wives (vacationing on the beaches), and sex workers (on the bases) as explored in Cynthia Enloe’s Bananas, Beaches and Bases might have been true when she wrote it but has certainly changed quite a bit. Earlier this month, the SC judgement in favour of women in the armed services was announced and India has had a female Defence Minister in Ms. Sitharaman. Itight make for an interesting analysis. While on the other hand, the impact of Assam floods are quite under-reported let alone research. However it is never too late, and hence, I’d like to research the impact of floods in Assam on the education system as 1/3rd of the students life is spent in school and pursuing activities related to school. Given the potential of both topics, at IIT Guwahati, I hope to be able to pursue both- one in the format of an article and the other in a dissertation.
  4. Always have food: I am not exaggerating when I say ‘always’. I can whip some up, a stash of dry snacks, and a caffeine fix (tea and coffee both). On the move? You can count on me to share that packet of biscuits or that chocolate bar. Wondering why IIT Guwahati should enrol me for food? Because it goes a long way in forging bonds between fellow-mates, friends and even professors.
  5. Full of quirky anecdotes: While I dint draw a salary, it will also be unfair to say or even imply that I worked for free (Don’t support free labor in any form). Once in 5 months or so, I found myself a long weekend to blow off some steam in Coorg, Dharamshala (sighted Dalai Lama too), and the NY 2018 managed a 5 day trek to Kuari Pass as well. I’ve collected quite a few quirky anecdotes on the road- about the guy who offered to sell me drugs but ended up making me realize the importance of family, or the time when a monkey adopted a kitten?

    Why did a monkey adopt the kitten? (Negheriting Shiva Doul, Assam; 2018)
  6. Document-maker: Actually, with a camera phone who isn’t right? Here’s a few of my personal favorites from the time I was volunteering at SECMOL in November, and the Lockdown since March 2020 onwards.
    PT browsing through the dictionary before dinner begins with Thomas cuddled in his lap for warmth
    Among the many hats Gwen donned on campus, she donned a few off campus as well- one of them being a sponsor for this child’s education
    The girls engaging in Ladakhi singing and dancing on Thursday marked as “Ladakhi Day” to instil appreciation for the local traditions and culture
    A bouquet of assorted small flowers from our terrace garden (For mother

    Lily and Golu lazing in the balcony as shot from the window above my study table (March 2020)
  7. Asset for Social Media campaigns: As evident from this article, my creativity and appetite for (calculated) risk along with past experience in branding and marketing makes me a good fit for social media campaigns. Given the vibrant and buzz campus, I’m hopeful that the opportunity to utilise my skill sets will present itself at IIT Guwahati. With this, I’m now going to rest my case and really hope for the best. Really.

Sincerely,

Aishwariya G

 

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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.

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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