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Practicing Gender Equality Must Begin At Home- How Can We Do So?

In our family either in India or in the whole of South Asia, the condition of women has not been equal to men due to many social problems. All these social problems still exist throughout society and determine our everyday life and social relations. It is more interesting that even today we see that women in the entire society are still struggling to get at least basic right for their survival. They are facing discrimination not just at their workplace but also in their family and society too.

Who'll cry for domestic workers?
Representative image only.

In India’s case, as Oxfam Report suggest that in the workplace women receive 34 % fewer wages than their male partner. Similarly during the Pandemic, according to the Indian government’s data, gender inequality has been increased- 55%  of the women are not using public health services, because of high health expenditure and several social and cultural reasons. Similarly, if look at the rest of South Asia, the same condition exist everywhere and women in this entire region are still not able to access even basic facilities.

The main sources of discrimination against women either in the family or at the workplace are rooted in the history of human civilization. Broadly, all these sources and their different forms such as religious conservatism, racial segregation and caste notion have been existing for a long period of time in our entire society. It is fact that not just religious conservatism but also racial segregation and caste notion have been responsible for several forms of inequality.

Indian Teen Who Reported a Child Marriage Now Fears For Her Life
Child marriage is a popular oppressive practice in South Asian societies. Representative image only.

How Have Different Social And Cultural Ethics Oppressed Women?

Especially in the case of women, all these factors have not just created different kinds of social and cultural ethics in order to control women thinking and behaviour but also define the way through which man and women perform differently in their family and society. Besides, these social factors also form many other social and cultural barriers that stigmatize women’s body and behaviour defending the unequal relationship between man and women. But it is fact that in our society and family, the notion of religion and its close connection to ethnicity has been a key factor, it silently defines unequal relation between man and women.

These Women Entered a Hindu Temple in India and Set Off Protests | Time
Religion and ethnicity have also played huge roles in determining the status of women in India. Representative image only.

Many reports on the connection between religion and ethnicity reveal that both in their close connection define how do women and men follow ethnic and religious notion to perform in the family and society. It also defines the way through which both male and female member engage with each other in the family.

At present, in our entire society, a different kind of notion is still going on and this notion on one hand closely affect and control women’s mobility on the other hand also stigmatize women identity and behaviour in the family on the other hand. Thus, in this case, the relationship between man and women in the family is not just stigmatized but also it reproduces inequality.

How Can We Promote Gender Equality Within The Family?

Promoting gender equality in the family and society is a significant step to transform society and family into a progressive one. In the case of family, promoting gender equality not just creates a new kind of social values and ethics but also cultivate a new sense of identity among individual family members.

In other words, it may be said that it is a kind of rational activity and it offers an equal space for both man and women in the family. It also defends the notion of equality and mutual relation between both. Therefore, to promote gender equality in the family, there are many things that need attention and also need to be practised in the family and society very consciously.

The principle of the division of labour that still exists in our family and society has been a key factor that not just defining the idea of family and society but also an individual’s nature and behaviour basis on gender. Therefore, the principle of division of labour need attention and also need to be reduced very consciously.

Little Things Explores Long Distance Relationships (and Changing Priorities) in Season 3 | by M S Rayed | UpThrust.co | Medium
Equality begins at home. Representative image only.

Every family member either man or women consciously not just live together equally but also should create a space for mutual relation and togetherness among family members. Similarly, equal participation in every activity in the family is another step that should be practised by both male and female.

We Need To Create An Ethic Of Partnership In Marriages Instead Of Domination

It creates a new kind of ethics and value that defend equal status for both man and women. It recognizes the role and also the contribution of women in the family as equal to the man. A third important step that must be practised by all family members is the principle of freedom. It is one of the basic rights; it offers an equal status for every individual in the family. Even children in the family without following any discrimination basis of gender identity also get equal opportunity and show their ability equally in the family and society.

In the last, the practice of critical and rational thinking is also one of the important steps that every family member should practice in their daily life. it often promotes not just gender equality but also the equal status of both man and women in the family.

The principle of critical and rational thinking in itself is a process; it often reduces social and cultural barriers and creates a condition for the struggle against male domination in the family. Because of its tendency to challenge the power relation and male hegemony, the principle of critical and rational thinking leads an individual and the family toward progressive social change.

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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.

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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 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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