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Why We Need To Remember 2020, Apart From The Gruesome COVID-19 Pandemic

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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.

A very popular quote has been circulating through social media during the year 2020. Quoting in verbatim, I am leaving the interpretation to the readers and their fine sense of judgement.

I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have”.

On March 23, our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the crucial decision to lockdown India. Not all of us were comfortable with the decision. Within days, we started mustering the strength to cope with this homebound environment. Our commute ranged from grocery to basic health care only. Much to everyone’s prediction, online courses and MOOCs started keeping all of us busy. We wanted to access it all and become better than others. But that is what the status quo demanded.

india lockdown
Representational image.

One of the essential requirements of the lockdown was to practice self-care along with caring for your loved ones. Caring for your loved ones is the short and silver opportunity for those who live away from homes for their job, education, and livelihood. With no industrial and manufacturing work in place, over a hundred thousand people were seen on foot travelling on the road to reach their native places. These people were not justified with the care and response shown initially. Later on, we learnt how to deal with this issue too. Public Policy schemes ranging from Aatmanirbhar Bharat to PM Street Vendor’s Scheme (SVANIDHI) were executed to tackle with the migrant and hawker issue.

2020 could not really have been the worst year in the area of reflections and observations towards life. All of us had a lot of time to think and reflect upon our life. As I write this, it’s December 31. Will we really forget 2020 and forgive 2020? No. We do not have Alzheimer’s and not all of us are Jesus. What then makes 2020 different? Definitely a thought to ponder upon.

A flurry of social media posts shows people cooking Italian to Taco Mexicana. Agriculture, the most overstressed sector of the Indian economy, showed positive growth. In fact, our backbone sector was the only support system that did not let the economy drift into a complete coma. The advanced sectors like services saw a lot of attrition.

People who did not have the time or opportunity to bond with the family and relationship had the right strength to work on it. Understanding other’s point of view also became our source of peace. There was hope.

Work from home, a privilege and a rare chance given to employees, became the established norm. WFH showed three different contrasts; Your productivity actually rose; you started doing more work than your desk job; you had your family and puppy around, not your boss. There was always good channelling of positive vibes.

We also learnt to help and donate money with our good benevolence. Sharing skills and teaching yoga and mind control over internet calls became our to-do lists. Friends used to throw tantrums over not coming on their birthdays, but now we share the joy by cheering birthday wishes in front of our laptops and opening champagne bottles. We became better and more mature. Frustration did add to our woes, but we did not let it overwhelm us with agony. Thanks to the phases of ‘Unlockdowns’ in India.

The ancient principle of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam‘, All world is one family, came into being actually in 2020. India was seen as exporting medicinal essentials like Hydrochloroquine. Mission Samudra Setu, an Indian Naval mission to repatriate Indian Citizens was also seen helping other citizens the world over. An underdeveloped country like Kenya was seen tackling the pandemic in a better manner than the U.S. The major thing that bothered us all is the ongoing ‘Shadow Pandemic’. The magnitude has risen during 2020. How can we expect to grow in the 21st century with the mindset of the 19th Century? Where did we miss?

But there is a better world out there. The vaccine is not the answer to all our prayers, becoming vigilant about taking precautions and caring for those in need is the golden hope.

The “take away from 2020” matters. Did I work on my problems? Did I become better? I had 365 days, What did I do? Did I start understanding my parents and siblings better? Did my relationship mature?

Before ending the next 10-12 hours of this last day of the alleged worse year, we need to reflect on these questions.

Migrants were a socioeconomic problem, but today, they are very important to tie India culturally with the knots of fraternity and secularism. Climate Change is not just a topic anymore, we have the right opportunity to do a ‘Factory Reset’ settings on the way we live and consume things from nature. Harmony is best suited when we know the right things to do. Jaw-Jaw over climate change will not do any of us good. We need to act and as Former Japan PM Shinzo Abe said, we need to be more resilient.

2020 is not the year you should put in the ‘Not to discuss’ pile. It is the year of seeing the world differently and much more vividly.

Once you know the nitty-gritty of the last 365 days, you will view the year’s timeline in a more nuanced manner.

May I pray for those who have lost their lives in this pandemic, and may I strongly hope that our doctor gods and goddess are healthy and joyous. For if they did not sacrifice their happy hours to work hard and become doctors, we would not have survived this long.

Dear 2021, If not best then at least be better for us.


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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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
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