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“I May No Longer Have Faith In The Systems, But I Do Have Faith In The Youth”

India, a country with a population of 136 crore people has a strong, active and energetic youth community. Each one of us has dreams, living in a diverse country which is starstruck by Bollywood limelight and inspired by young civil servants and pilots, we all have an entire spectrum of goals to accomplish.

As a teenager, I was told by my father that our country has a cut-throat competition. That in order to succeed, I’ll have to work immensely hard to establish myself as a successful person in this race to become number one. There is no substitute for hard work and so we continue to strive against all the odds.

Every individual fights their own little battle, for some, it’s the society, for others it is their family and for some little girls across the globe, it is the terrorists.

“Many Students In India Fight Poverty, Ambitious Young Girls And Women Smash Patriarchy And Their Creative Minds Conquer Hypocrisy”

As medical students holding the scalpel pledge to never discriminate amongst their patients and serve humanity for the rest of their lives, a young solider picks up the gun to save their countrymen. We might have different purposes to serve, a different perspective to life, but it is this difference which makes us human, which makes life to exist on Earth.

To build a nation where their dreams and ambitions are no longer caged in poverty, illiteracy and inequality. Representational image.

The youth of my country stands divided today when it comes to politics, it is the ideology and the vision for a developed nation, that the university students have come down to the roads, against each other, fighting for their rights, protecting their liberty and the fundamental right to live.

It is for these rights that the youth today extraordinarily fights an elected government in the largest democracy of the world.  To build a nation where their dreams and ambitions are no longer caged in poverty, illiteracy and inequality. And it is for these rights that a young girl across the border was shot in broad daylight, only to see her back stronger and fearless than ever before.

Political Inclinations, The Caste System, Social Backgrounds, Communal Tensions And Financial Constraints Divide Us But We Are All United In The Hope For A Better, Safer, Inclusive Future

What makes all of us stand together is our hope that someday in the future there will be no more battles fought for our mere rights, the right to live a normal life, the right to live happily, the right to make our dreams turn into reality.

Our generation today is full of thoughts, ideas and righteous spirit waiting for the right opportunity. I see young girls wanting to join the combat role in the army and young boys wanting to live freely without the burden of being manly and a responsible family head. After being a part of an unhealthy competitive race for an entrance exam, the positive thing about it I realized is that the aspirants have an unbreakable spirit to achieve their goal regardless of the continuous failures.

The youth will bear the beacon of change. Representative image only.

Their ambitions refuse to settle for anything less than they have dreamed of, ready to give in whatsoever it takes, they wake up every morning with new hope as bright as the sun. It is saddening that their efforts might not be acknowledged after a 3-hour examination and the 15 lakh students would go hopeless as the rest of 1 lakh students finally reach their long-awaited goal. It is this unpleasant ratio that keeps countless young minds dejected and makes them question their calibre.

Coming in terms with the current situation of our society, understating the major setbacks we are facing today and hoping to see a positive change against all the odds, I, as a citizen of this country want every gift to get an equal opportunity, a fair chance to fulfil our dreams, to get what we deserve and not what the system reserves.

A country where competitive exams are no longer unhealthy and we focus more on collaboration and communication. The unanimous agreement to not give up on anything that protects our liberty and abandon everything that disrupts our equality.

I wish to see every gift being equally respected and acknowledged, an entrepreneur getting the same social appreciation as a doctor, the artists being treated as equally as the officers. A society where the youth is not silenced on speaking their minds and women are equally welcomed in every field of work, where dissent is taken as disagreement and not disrespect, where opposing ideas does not mean hating the other person and different religions bring in secular faith and not communal hatred.

A Nation Where Lynching Or Bombing Innocent People And Demolishing Religious Structures, Irrespective Of The Community, Is Not Celebrated

As the educated crowd, I truly hope that we never misuse our knowledge against humanity and keep the peace of the world. We the youth might be twenty per cent of the population but we are one hundred per cent of the future.

I may no longer have faith in the systems but I do have faith in people. It is us who decide what this world would be like in the future and how it will treat the generations to come. What a terrorist is afraid of is not one educated Malala but the thousands of other girls following her in accordance who would no longer believe in the theory of anyone or anything superior to humanity, it is that crowd of brave young souls that scares them. Let no evil power take away this courage to find our happiness, our goals, our purpose to live this one and only life.

Together we aim to create a world where dreams take off without the burden of reality. Thousands of us vow to work for this change and I hope for these solemn vows to be kept throughout the whole Earth, beneath the Sun.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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
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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