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Opinion: The Need For Recognition Of Our Identities Has Given Rise To Conflicts

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Why are human beings so bound by many identities? Struggling, only to make their own identity? In response, it can only be said that it is the recognition that repeatedly gives one the impression of their identity. That is why they jump into the politics of identity. Incidentally, it is a part of what is multicultural in its form in society.

In the meantime, it would be appropriate to point out for convenience that the identity that has been talked about here means individual and community-based identity, and that is why it is struggling with the crisis of its identity, which later takes the shape of politics from here and that is where it becomes politics of identity.

Communism Flag
Representative Image.

At the practical level, today’s society has different ideologies in the form of Marxism, liberalism, neo-liberalism (marketisation) and communitarianism, etc. But today, various identities are flourishing in these ideologies.

When it comes to females, her identity appears to be struggling with the male identity, Dalit identity appears to be in a state of struggle with Brahminism. Religious-Muslim identities appear to be in conflict with Hindus for their traditional cultural beliefs, and other religions are in conflict with each other.

So, the question is, what kind of world structure are we engaged in? A society obsessed with identity-based thinking, which has only one purpose — the attainment of recognition?

There was a time when Aristotle did not consider women and slaves to be participatory in governance. But by the 19th century, Western societies like Europe and the United States gave women civil rights and some legal rights, which led to laws for women’s rights in various developing societies.

This was the basis on which women established the politics of recognising their identity so that they too could determine their role in building this modern society.

But we must remember that Huntington once said in his book Clash of Civilisations that there would come a day when there will be a clash between civilisations for different cultures in societies, that is, the state of planetary warfare between different civilisations. We see that today as Dalit-Hindu (Brahmin class), Shia-Sunni-Baloch, Tamil-Sinhalese, Israel-Palestinian and Hindu-Muslim, etc.

So, it can be said that at its core is the politics of recognition that it wants to establish as the establishment of its own cultural identity. Later, the battle reaches representation, political participation and electoral politics. 

secularism
Representative Image.

There is a controversy in India today about establishing a uniform civil code of conduct in India. At its core, the different law codes between different religions leave no value and justice. This also shows a greater identity crisis.

Today, no matter what religion it is, it prefers to be always associated with its cultural heritage. In this way, we can see the Muslim community, which does not want to have a situation where it has to compromise on its Quran-based cultural beliefs. Similarly, Hindus also take special care of identity based on Vedic rituals, Upanishads, etc., as their cultural heritage. Similarly, the same identity politics begins to appear between Christians and Sikhs and other religions. 

Now let’s talk about the part of society that is neglected by the mainstream, the divyang (disabled). They also want recognition before the Government and society by putting forward their social and human identity. So that they also get legal rights that other social classes have got and get rid of the scorning human exclusion that they suffer.

In different societies, the creation of one’s identity among different cultures also varies. For example, we have many who accept this identity crisis. Looking at the philosophical aspect, a person always wants the society they belong in to establish their identity recognition in the politics of that society.

When human beings are not recognised by society, they begin to establish their cultural supremacy and this idea begins to be harmful to harmony, rights, equality and other cultures. Therefore, in this way, the crisis of identity shifts to the politics of recognition. 

It is not that this idea has just been born. It has been prevalent for centuries but has had its presence in its different forms in historical and modern times, which we can see and consider even today.

In the context of India, when it became a colony of the British, the psychological and Western cultural power that the British used at that time was a well-planned tradition of establishing a Western culture in this continent. And it was in this power that the British adapted social, economic, political and cultural changes into Indian tradition sans Indian political institutionalisation.

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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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