This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sanya Tyagi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Girls, Flaunt Your Success, It Will Drive Them Crazy!

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I am a 17 years old student studying in grade XII and I have a keen interest in writing, public speaking, conversing with people and many more such things which involve people. I am an avid conversationalist and I always speak up for different issues which just doesn’t fit right with my understanding and beliefs.

Here’s a brief incident that I faced a while ago and I can never forget as I did something for myself which I never thought I could have, and wanted to share with you all. Hope it motivates you a little bit!

A girl can do anything if she gets the opportunity to showcase her best self.

“She Overcame Everything That Was Meant To Stop Her”

Once upon a time (not long back though), there was a girl who was happy, lively and was living the life of her dream. But one day she faced a setback and she was in tears. Now you may wonder what must have happened to her? Well just imagine people questioning your worth and thinking that you can’t do it anymore; how would you feel? I am not a clairvoyant so I don’t know about you all, but I was shattered. 

I was in class 11th and had got my midterm exams’ results which were highly disappointing for me. I was extremely sad and unhappy with myself. To add to this, one of my female teachers mocked me and looked down upon me, only because despite my being a student of a highly reputed school, I was not able to win a debate competition, basically questioning my potential.

It almost felt as if I was being told that I shouldn’t do it because I don’t have that capability inside me, like thousands of girls who are stopped from doing things and dreaming big only because the people think that we can’t do it. I felt so unmotivated to do anything, I felt tired and I started questioning myself whether I am good for anything? Can I achieve something in my life? I can’t even study properly and I’m no good at extracurricular activities too. All these thoughts started bothering me day and night.

But I guess when you really want to prove yourself to others and make other people stop talking rubbish about you, god really gives you a chance to reprimand yourself. Luckily, I got another chance to prove my worth to all the people out there whether my teachers, parents or my friends. It was an open mic competition and I was supposed to speak on a topic for 4 minutes. I prepared for it and gave my 100 per cent.

Representational image.

A Girl Can Do Anything If She Gets The Opportunity To Showcase Her Best Self

I know you all aren’t clairvoyant like me so I would spare the formality of asking you the cliche question of ‘take a guess’ for my situation as to what must have happened. So yeah, I went with expectations of receiving any of the three positions, but at least hoping to get recognized. But the miracle happened and I secured the first position. I was so elated with myself and my hard work. My self-worth boosted and I felt that a girl can do anything she wants provided that she has the will to do it and she gets the opportunity to showcase her best self.

Living in India, where patriarchy is still dominant, it is not easy for many girls. Coming from a privileged family background can face situations at schools, or other places wherein people manifest such mentality and thoughts of patriarchy.

My case might be different from many others because here a woman showed patricentric thoughts, believing that I can’t do anything and making me feel as if I am the worst. It’s not compulsory that only men show such behaviour,  even women from varying backgrounds can show such thoughts because maybe they are conditioned(indirectly) with these beliefs. This is what we all need to fight against.

When I say fight, it doesn’t mean being aggressive or violent with such people, but I believe taking their mockery and comments as a challenge for yourself will become a driving factor for you to gain your success. And trust me this strategy is the best and it’s going to shut them up for the rest of their lives. 

So, on this Women’s Day, I would like to congratulate all those women who have stood up against such hurdles and established themselves as Iron ladies in this society. 

Kudos to us for being what we are today and what we are going to become in the coming years!

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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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