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Celebrating Fyunli Kauthig In Uttarakhand Every Year On International Women’s Day

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Written by: Aanchal Pundir

Established in 1997 as a non-profit trust, Sewa International serves communities in distress, especially during natural disasters, aiding local communities and promoting volunteerism across the world. With the aim of achieving Sustainable Development Goals as a focus area for its interventions in the mountainous regions, especially Uttarakhand, Sewa International is working to improve the lives of more than 3,800 women SHG members in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts, who are being trained in farm-based livelihoods such as organic farming, horticulture, food processing, as well as non-farm livelihoods such as knitting, sewing, bamboo (Ringal) crafts, tourism, etc.

Our state-of-the-art skill centres, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs), help provide necessary employment-oriented skills to aspiring youths in seven districts of Uttarakhand in the domains of Electronics, IT, Healthcare, Agriculture, Telecom, Hospitality, etc. Sewa International’s Health and Awareness programmes are reaching to the farthest of the regions and providing preventive and curative care to the rural people.

Across India, Sewa International is present in 20 states, where it’s working directly as well as with grassroot organisations to achieve SDGs in the areas of health, education, clean water/sanitation, clean energy, poverty eradication and youth/women empowerment among others. Globally, with the active support of Indian Diaspora, Sewa International’s associate partners in 22 countries are working to aid their local communities as well as development/rehab projects in India.

fyunli kauthig

Women have been compared to flowers in poetry and literature not because they are tender like a flower, but because they have the ability to blossom, spread fragrance around the vibrant surroundings even amongst thorns, even in the most hostile environment; provided they get space, time and right nourishment.

Fyunli Kauthig, literally meaning celebration of Fyunli (a flower that blossoms on the onset of spring), is the celebration of all such women who get recognised for their potential, despite innumerous barriers that try to hold them back. Sewa International has been celebrating International Women’s Day (held on March 8) since 2016 as Fyunli Kauthig in Uttarakhand, translated from the idea of ‘celebration of womanhood’.

The community comes together to exhibit extraordinary stories of women in different roles and walks of life, so as to platform their success and inspire others to strive to reach their full potential. Over the past four years, the event has seen new highs, with eminent personalities, social workers, sportspersons and environmentalists attending the event along with the participation of over 9,000 women from the remotest locations in mountains.

Sewa International is working in one of the most inhospitable terrains of Uttarakhand in the districts of Rudraprayag and Chamoli, comprising of families with predominantly female members and with limited sources of income, relying mostly on the remittances from males who work in cities. The selection of the villages and women members is done based on the potential and interest shown by local women of the area and the need of the villages.

These women are then grouped into respective SHGs comprising of 10-12 members, and meet regularly on a monthly basis for intra-loaning and ensuring savings for the group. These women are associated with various Sewa International programmes such as skill development initiatives where women are engaged in knitting, ringal (bamboo) handicrafts, computer training, etc. Then there are women who are involved in farm-based activities including floriculture, cash crops, medicinal plant cultivation, etc.

They are coming from the remotest of the villages in the region and doing some great developmental work. Hence, being Sewa Ambassadors and local influencers, they are invited to the celebrations.

Fyunli Kauthig is intended to provide the mark of respect to the wonderful and hard-working women of Uttarakhand. The metrics of measurement is in terms of the attendance at the event, quality of their cultural presentations, the enthusiasm shown by them for participation in the sports events, and general feedback from them. This year will bring them an inch closer to owning their contribution and success in the change they have brought over these years. The fact that we have received tremendous support from them year after year, despite being located far away from their homes, is a testament to the events’ success.

About the author: Read more works by Aanchal Pundir on Youth Ki Awaaz here.

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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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