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From COVID 19 To Work From Home, Four Important Lessons I Learned In 2020

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

I am sure you might have been very happy and excited at the start of this year and I was too, until the pandemic hit our lives, bringing about huge losses, ambiguities, sufferings, a realization of our careless behaviour towards mother earth and attention towards how important it is to protect her.

Apart from these, there are a few other things to be learnt that are unavoidable, super important and make me think that nothing can be permanent or fixed when it comes to life, death and nature.

Representational image.

Maintain Distance Or Welcome An Unwanted Guest

You guessed it. Social distancing and not gathering is a thing now, and if you can’t maintain it be ready for the consequences too.

We all know how difficult it is, especially for a Mumbaikar to follow something that we are not at all used to. Because we really feel at home when in a crowd or when there is chaos around us.

We’re now forced to stand in a queue and maintain a distance of at least 3 feet at bus stands or any other public place like a ration or medical store; something that was impossible for someone to teach us just a few months back. A sign of being ‘Atma Nirbhar’, isn’t it?

Now, I believed that this was the best precautionary measure that I could take until I saw a video of a lady who caught the virus even after staying home. She was completely quarantined, without any social contact, but was in direct contact with things she had to touch and use for household and personal use. We are supposed to be dressed up, wearing gloves and masks, and soaking everything possible in water for 1–2 hours.

There is a risk that the virus could find a chance to enter the body and create ways to live there, as an unwanted guest.

Who Said Work From Home is Not Possible?

man siting on laptop at his home
Every possible arrangement has been made by a lot of companies, thanks to COVID-19, for employees to work from home and this was what most of us had wished for. Representational image.

We were often given excuses about possibilities of data confidentiality or data breach when we wanted to work from home as an alternative for leaves. And guess what, they were never approved.

Now, a lot of companies have made every possible arrangement, thanks to COVID-19, for us to work from home and this was what most of us had wished for. But, everything comes with a cost and this time it’s our health again. I have heard a lot of colleagues and friends complain about discomfort and poor body posture they have developed.

They miss the office chairs and tables which were made available to us free of cost, keeping in mind our comfort levels. Not everyone has access to tables and chairs while we are working from home, so we spend a lot of time on the bed, which only makes our ‘ass-et’ suffer, and makes us sleepy, especially after lunch!

How IT (Data Science) Has Helped Our Government

The Government has managed to make decisions regarding a lot of issues related to the lockdown or stricter lockdown in containment zones.

Thanks to technology, it is possible to find the availability of extra beds for patients, food, make additional screening or checks at the airports and inter-state bus depots, conducting COVID-19 tests for people travelling to their hometowns, keeping them quarantined for few days along with taking care of their basic shelter and food requirements.

Also, we’ve developed apps like Aarogya Setu to help identify symptoms in people and take action to avoid getting hospitalised and forcing home-quarantine at an early stage.

They’ve also made it compulsory for regular people, doctors, and nurses to wear masks and hand gloves and another required wearables.

How could they do it (at some or all levels — for those of you who have different opinions) in such a short time? The majority could be achieved through the way the data was captured, analysed, and how decisions were made. Here are some of the examples of how data and information technology are helping authorities take decisions quickly:

-Collecting public data through the Aarogya Setu app and then using it to make decisions to execute the next lockdown or partial lockdown or unlock

-Manufacturing medicines and vaccinations and testing the dosages, usability, side effects, etc. in labs and medical colleges

Aiims Save male nurses
Representational image.

Health Comes First

We do not realize the importance of something until there’s a risk factor attached to it. And, the same is the case with our health. It is during this health crisis that we are paying attention to hygiene and immunity. We’re doing this either by consuming medicines or natural and organic fruits and vegetables.

For some of us, there is no cost factor associated with any of these at all. There might have been a point where we used to think a lot before spending a penny.

It is now that we have started realizing that nothing exists if we don’t exist. It is now that we should take 100% responsibility for this gift of the human body bestowed upon us by nature and has to be paid utmost attention to.

Only now we are careful about the smallest of things that could affect our health. Hence we’ve been taking precautions like washing hands for at least 2o seconds at regular intervals or drinking only hot water and ayurvedic health drinks or avoiding frequent face-touching, which, earlier, was just a thing to be heard and ignored.

I hope these lessons will not go in vain and we pass this on to our future generations, where they value their health first and understand and use the power of science consciously.

Featured image for representation only.
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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 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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