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A Shoutout To The Top 20 Users Of 2020, Who Defined Being ‘Vocal’ And How!

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For the unprecedented year that went by, and for all that it brought with it- the fears, the uncertainty, the agony, peppered with some hope somewhere, what kept us, at YKA, going was the one thing constant- Our Users. On days when we grappled with the incoherent reality of an unexpected pandemic, we found solace in the empathic stories our users shared with us, from nooks and corners of the country, giving us the assurance that we were all in this together and that this too shall pass. 

Many shared their perspective on issues over and beyond, because however stagnant life may have felt, Covid-19 didn’t enter lives in isolation- and our users ensured they continued to speak up, breaking not just taboos and stereotypes, but also the silence on many matters that stayed uncovered by mainstream media- matters of relevance, matters the youth cares for, matters YOU care for! And while all our users continue to create impact, here’s a list of our top 20 users this year, who spoke up, shattered conventions, drove home a point and how! 

     

Ishita Bagchi: Ishita’s posts have been inclusive in the truest sense of terms! From talking about the state of public washrooms in Kolkata to the plight of the garment chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, her posts gave voice to issues that many chose to forget! This young writer is striving for change through the strength of her words and beyond!

 

 

Srishti Pandey: Srishti’s impactful journey as a writer on YKA, her candid narrative on the challenges brought about by the pandemic for persons with disability, and her frank, unminced account of the condemnable stigma associated with disability, all encompass the power and might of this young writer’s mind!

 

 

Pragya Uike: What commenced with a heart-felt poem on caste-based discrimination, is Pragya’s ever ascending journey at YKA. An Action Network Fellow, and a consistently impactful writer on the platform, she shall stop at nothing. Passionate about issues concerning, but not limited to, the Adivasi community and socio-political affairs, Pragya’s work defines YKA’s efforts on expunging caste-based inequality plaguing India.

 

 

IndraJeet Ghorpade: From calling out homophobic practices by supposedly progressive brands, to speaking out on the queerphobia that headlines tend to miss, Jeet’s consistent coverage is much-needed in the fight for an inclusive world! 

 

 

RitushreeFrom calling out homophobia and the wrongs in queer dating-platforms, to speaking up against politically motivated communalism and the stigma associated with mental health, this fierce writer has been vocal about multiple issues- fearless, undaunted and articulate in her expression!

 

 

Ifra Ali: Ifra has frequently published posts on YKA this year. Her story sharing her experience of Islamophobia and battling stereotypes was really well-received by the YKA community. A compelling writer, Ifra’s style of narration can inspire many young people, who can relate to her experiences, to share their own story as candidly and uninhibited.

 

 


Jaimine: From talking about caste to stirring important conversations about threat to democracy in 2020, Jaimine contributed to various discourses through authentic and pertinent angles. His work surely contributes to important perspectives in the domains of education, society and politics.  

 

 

Malvika Dangwal: From covering diverse issues and concerns surrounding the length and breadth of Bihar to demanding responsibility and better governance through her fiery words, if there’s one word that can sum up Malvika’s passion for a better India, it’s consistency in her efforts to demand it! Malvika, also a Community Editor at YKA now, possesses the double prowess of invoking thought, attention through poetry and prose alike!

 

 

Abha Thapliyal : Adding a touch of relatability in her compelling stories on issues related to gender violence, education, mental health, and menstruation and the associated stigma, Abha has consistently voiced her uninhibited opinion on matters that stared us in the face all year round.

 

Tina Sequeira : Through her powerful and thought provoking articles on pertinent issues related to gender, disability, culture and education, Tina continues to write inspiring and impactful stories, as she did last year, with the power of her unfettered words.

 

 

Akshay Sonawane: A political enthusiast, with an inherent love for writing,  Akshay has consistently and passionately covered issues related to governance, current affairs and politics. With his unparalleled fervour for ‘uncovered’ news, he’s steadily drawn readers, focusing on issues that actually count!

 

 

Sarah Jacob: With a focus on gender violence and social issues, Sarah has a unique perspective on everyday things that perhaps matter the most, but often go unaddressed. With her impactful stories and her fierce opinions, ‘Sarah Jacob’ is a recurring name among YKA editors.

 

 

Dr Aqsa Shaikh: Dr Aqsa’s style of writing and her approach to talking about issues, from gender to politics, always leaves us waiting for her next piece! Her posts always add more nuance to the discussions we foster on YKA.

 

 

Melanie Dhar: A student, activist and an intersectional feminist, Melanie has covered various intrinsic issues on menstruation through multiple lens. From talking about why Safroora Zargar’s pregnancy should be a rallying point for her release to spreading awareness about using eco-friendly and sustainable menstrual products, Melanie has introduced new concepts and ideas about menstruation, one article at a time. 

 

 

Devyani RabindranathWith her forthright stance on period positivity, this young writer has left no stone unturned in talking about inclusive healthcare, medical rights of transexual persons, patriarchal taboos and the fears that young India is grappling with during the pandemic. Passionate, vociferous and eloquent, Devyani does justice to every issue she chooses to address.

 

 

Ritwik Trivedi: One of YKA’s most active users, Ritwik has seized every opportunity to talk about every social, economic and political development in the country, raising his voice against every injustice that happened in the past year.

 

Souvik Dutta: A fearless analyst of politics and a strong detractor of patriarchal norms, Souvik has shared powerful commentaries all year round on socio-political issues, impacting the nation and the world at large. His sheer flair for writing, and his strongly worded opinions always leave us wanting more.

 

Rupsa Nag: From tracing period taboos and awareness across three generations, to breaking taboos around period sex, from raising her voice against the oft ignored pain and trauma of domestic workers to normalising conversations around period pain and vaginal discharge, Rupsa has put her curiosity to the best use by breaking stigma and spreading awareness about menstruation as a subject in the society.

 

Manish Dutta: A regular contributor at YKA, Manish has written extensively on gender-based issues, which also helped him understand and engage with his own privilege! From his on-ground coverage of the devastation that cyclone Amphan wreaked, to campus issues, his articles provide narratives that mainstream media misses. 

 

Anonymous Reporter: We’ve seen their notable journey as a writer on YKA, from talking about their experience of being trolled online, to joining the Writers Training Program earlier this year. Their passion when it comes to writing on, and speaking out about gender-based issues is inspiring to say the least! 

 

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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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