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Dates and Elections

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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora along with his team announced the dates for the election to five states- Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu. Barring Kerala and Tamil Nadu, I believe the Bhartiya Janta Party has smelled an occasion and opportunity to taste power in Bengal giving CM Mamta Banerjee a run for her money. Remember, Bhartiya Janta Party has gone all out in exposing the misdeeds and mishits of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state.

Orchestrated at two levels, firstly by winning over the disgruntled leaders, workers, and cadres of the Trinamool in their ranks invoking cultural pride and religious polarization arousing the sentiments and emotions of the common and ordinary electorate. There is a likelihood in all possibility that the BJP is set to gain from Mamta’s ferocious reaction and response to Jai Shri Ram bettering their poll presentation. Namasudras, a key Schedule Caste community in Bengal with a significant proportion in the population have over the past few months inched closer to the Bhartiya Janta Party completing the process of their Hinduization.

I am made to understand that a counter polarization suits the BJP than a Mamta as in urban spaces the saffron party will be comfortably a little ahead. Mamta dominating the rural scene as for the thirty percent Muslim population in the state endorsing TMC than for a Congress- Left alliance. Owaisi at best would want to play a vote spoiler sounding as a trusted aide and well-wisher of the Muslims. A political plot was adopted for securing the goodwill of his people and population. If the BJP were to cross over a hundred and ten-odd seats then it might bargain for power by poaching a significant chunk of Mamta,s legislators vividly illustrated in their intimidation techniques with CBI and ED becoming its frontline arms and agencies climbing over its opponents and critics. The CBI recently quizzed Mamta,s nephew Abhishek Banerjee along with his wife for a case of corruption. Coming after Pamela Ghosh a prominent Bhartiya Yuva Morcha Leader Pamela Ghosh was arrested by Kolkata Police for illegally possessing drugs. Violence, vandalism, and hooliganism becoming the primary characteristic face and feature of the politics in the state. Literally, unaware of how different political sides behave and blame for their lows and highs on the result day- May 02nd. Kerala might see a repeat of the CPM government given its impressive micro-management of the Covid crisis elucidated in its conduct of the civic infrastructure and facilities. Pinarayi Vijayan has been able to tide over the anti-incumbency owing to the gold smuggling case momentarily denting his popularity and presence in the state. Except for the traditional rivalry between Left Democratic Front and United Democratic Front the BJP may make some inroads in state politics. A few days ago Metro Man E Sreedharan expressed his confidence in the BJP by officially becoming its primary member. Narayanswamy in Puducherry may ride on the sympathy wave given the toppling of his government in the state. In Tamil Nadu and Assam, Bhartiya Janta Party would expect from its allies- AIADMK and AGP to put up a show of strategy and strength thus helping it to retain power in these two states. Dinakaran might liaison with BJP leadership in Tamilnadu for a tie-up on Sasikala,s insistence. AIADMK will do whatever it could in its capacity for exposing and outlining the rift and rivalry in DMK given the souring association between Alagiri and Stalin. These assembly elections are going to offer us a take of people’s opinions and views at the back of the issues influencing the political perceptions, orientation, and outlook of our population. Remember, the Corona pandemic is far from being over even after the successful start of the inoculation drive. With an ongoing farmer’s agitation and distress, our democracy has faltered in attending and accomodating dissent and discontent labeling it as an unnecessary intrusion into our affairs derailing growth and governance. Substantially speaking safeguarding the faith and belief of the people should get acceptance than the laid out processes and procedures dividing us into this side versus that side.

No more in Democracy’s name

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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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