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

Most Studies Show The More Women In Power The Better

From running a company to running a country, a woman is almost always the second choice for management except when it comes to running a household. Every one of us is familiar with the age-old saying, “Behind every successful man is a woman”. But who decided women should always work backstage and never be at the forefront?

If we look at the corporate and political world right now, a lot of women can be seen stepping up and taking charge. But why did it take so long? Women got their right to vote 70 years ago in India; however, the number of female political leaders the country has seen is only a tiny percentage of the total number of male politicians we have.

Women are usually seen as the “wife of someone”. However, men are rarely seen as the “husband of someone”. Most times, when a man gets referred to as the “husband of Ms ABC”, his colleagues and society, in general, look down on him. If the wife earns more than the husband, it usually leads to ego clashes in the long run because the man finds it difficult to accept the fact that his female counterpart is more successful than him.

All these instances are so common that it has become a part of our daily life now. Anytime people see a female politician contesting the elections they automatically think “Oh, she’s not capable. I’m sure she only got here because of her looks or who her husband is”.

Where did this tremendously incorrect idea that women are not capable of running an organisation or institution stem from?

Almost the entire Indian population believes a woman can efficiently run a household. A lot of people believe that it should be their only aim in life. The only thing I want to say here is:

“If a woman can run a household smoothly, she can damn well run a country.”

Every Indian has a sense of brotherhood and this heightens in intensity when we see a fellow Indian reaching extremely successful positions in foreign countries. The past 2 weeks have been quite eventful for a few Indian women and women who are part Indian.

Everyone knows about Kamala Harris; the Vice-President-elect of the United States of America. Every Indian who cares about the U.S. elections had a sense of pride when they heard Joe Biden as the next President of the U.S.A.

If you take the case of Priyanca Radhakrishnan, member of parliament of New Zealand, a very similar reaction was seen, especially among Malayalis. Additionally, the 2020 U.S. elections also saw 6 Indian-American women winning seats in the senate.

All of these events stirred a sense of achievement and appreciation in most Indians. But why can’t we get a similar reaction when an Indian woman wins an election in her own country? She is easily overshadowed by her male counterparts even when she is more capable.

Do women automatically get more respect and admiration when they move out of their own country? Well, if that was the case, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be many females left in this country.

women in workplace
Firms that have no women on their senior management team are 15% less profitable than those in which women make up 30% of executives.

Apart from gender equality, there are a few other obvious economic benefits in employing women to head organisations and states. A study by Noland and Moran stated that firms that have no women on their senior management team are 15% less profitable than those in which women make up 30% of executives.

In the case of women in politics, there is established and growing evidence that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves them. Women demonstrate political leadership by working across party lines, even in the most politically combative environments. They focus on important issues of gender equality, such as the elimination of gender-based violence, parental leave and childcare, pensions, gender-equality laws, electoral reform, women-centric healthcare, etc.

According to a recent study by the United Nations, only three countries in the world have 50% or more women in parliament in single or lower houses. These countries are namely Rwanda, Cuba and Bolivia.

Furthermore, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 12 trillion dollars could be added to the world’s gross domestic product by 2025 through promoting gender equality/ the role of women in workplaces. Similarly, a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics demonstrates that the presence of women in corporate management bodies can improve performance. Also, statistics from Dow Jones VentureSource show that having more female managers in a company creates value.

All these studies show that women can be extremely efficient with the right training. A lot of women are connoisseurs in cost-cutting without compromising the quality of the final product. This is often seen in our own houses where our moms efficiently reduce costs by choosing the most viable alternatives and using products to their maximum capacity.

Merely having a law that mandates women to occupy a certain percentage of positions in the government does not make a difference. Hence, society needs to encourage them. The positive effects of having a career in politics must be taught to young children, both girls and boys. Young girls need to be given platforms to state their opinions and make decisions.

Lastly, talented and educated women have to be encouraged to assume positions of power and gender discrimination in their workplace and the government needs to be dealt with seriously. 

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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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