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The Internet And Social Media Have The Power To Make Voices Go Global

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We are currently in the golden age of the Internet and social media. Conventional media such as newspapers, magazines and TV are on the path of being redundant. Today, social sites such as Facebook and Twitter are driving the discussions in the public sphere. They show us what is trending/in fashion around us. That trend can range from fashion to protests.

Social media has been able to amplify voices to the masses.

Social media has become the most important and influential source of information and news for the current generation. Social Media and the Internet are creating and changing socio-political narratives across the world, from the Black Lives Matter Movement to anti-CAA-NRC protests in India are all examples of the impact and influence of social media.

Between 2013–2016 in the Indian internet space, right-wing/pro-BJP IT cell dominated social media trends. One of the reasons the Congress lost in 2014 was that it became the butt of all social media jokes. Narendra Modi was one of the first major Indian politicians to use social media effectively for image building. That helped him tremendously attract the youth of this country in 2014.

Social media can make or break careers, public images and even social movements. In this era of social media, everyone who has access to the Internet is a broadcaster. Everyone can express opinions, ask questions, and even criticise anything; governments, judiciary, or even celebrities. From questioning the government and courts to running campaigns, social media is the medium for everything and everyone.

In the era of conventional media, to fight or respond to fake news or misinformation could take up days and create chaos, but now social media has sped up this process very significantly. Any false claim can be fought immediately using the power of the Internet and social media. Websites like AltNews are doing this job incredibly well.

Today, in India, all parties, especially their youth wings like the Youth Congress and Yuva Sena, have started using social media platforms for election campaigns and to criticise and attack the opposition. Many politicians, including PM Modi, use social media in place of conventional mediums to address people and connect with them.

The anti-CAA-NRC and farmers protests have been citizen-led movements.

During the historic anti-CAA-NRC protests, there wasn’t any leader or organisation organising the nationwide protests or gathering the masses. The people, who before these protests weren’t into politics or social movements, got engaged in the movement because of social media.

The hashtags used on social sites such as Twitter have become newsmakers of the social media age. An old poem Hum Dekhenge by Faiz Ahmed Faiz turned into #HumDekhenge, a slogan for any movement which challenged the authority, from anti-CAA protests to farmers’ protests.

A new way of protesting has been born — Twitter storm — where people use certain pre-decided hashtags and put up multiple posts on Twitter during a particular time on a certain day, which if done sufficiently puts the hashtag/s in the trending list and causes people to notice it even if they were not aware of it or did not have an opinion on it. Even news channels today decide their headlines observing such social media trends.

These kinds of awareness campaigns and its impact is the biggest reason behind the Indian government’s decision to ask Twitter to shut down accounts using hashtags related to the farmers’ protests in early February 2021. But even the act of shutting down those accounts caused a global reaction, forcing Twitter to restore those accounts. This whole series of events caused a great awareness about the government’s politics in India and across the world, prompting responses from various International bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and President of the U.S.A. which talked about protecting free speech.

When American popstar Rihanna asked a simple question combined with a hashtag about the farmers’ protests and internet shutdowns, it sparked an aggressive reaction from the Indian government and Godi Media.

In school, we learned that India’s constitution guaranteed us several fundamental rights, and today the supreme court of India has said that the Internet is a fundamental right. A comment made on social media today can shake up society and influence the social narratives around us. Even an issue in the remotest place can become a global issue due to social media. That is the impact it has.

From Local To Global, How Social Media Has Redefined Protests And Dissent

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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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