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Young Indians Are Struggling To Enter The Workforce. Why?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Million of lives came to a halt when Covid-19 was declared as a pandemic by WHO (World Health Organisation) on March 11, 2020. Almost a year and half has gone by since we began dealing with this deadly virus which has catastrophically impacted humans globally.

It is said that the Covid-19 crisis is considerably more profound than the global financial crisis of 2008. Unemployment is skyrocketing and the economy is lowering at a never before rate. Many business are disappearing gradually as they are falling below breakeven points. 

Covid-19 has led to a drastic shift in work culture from traditional ways to WFH (work from home). Financial Express reported that approximately 40% of the workforce can afford to WFH the remaining 60% whose jobs don’t pay too much, are continuously on the verge of losing it.

Migrant workers waiting to get back to their hometowns. Representational image. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This section of low-skilled and vulnerable workers need more attention to be paid towards their effective retraining and upliftment policies by the government.

The work environment in the post Covid-19 era will never be the same as digitalisation is hovering all over work spaces. Businesses who will take most advantage of this new work culture and introduce latest technology, will have competitive advantage over others in the industry.

Women Have Been Affected Disproportionately

Coming to working women, the scenario is way too stressful. Women, in general, are at higher risk for losing their jobs than other sections of the workforce. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during recession—nearly 1 million more jobs than men.

This has lead to a huge gap in gender equality. Due to the strict lockdown and home quarantine imposed by the government, many working women had to quit their jobs as working on-screen while simultaneously taking care of one’s children at home, is not an easy process.

Moreover, in a condition where one of the spouses have to quit working in order to do household chores, women choose to quit as the burden to do so falls disproportionately on them.

The entrepreneurial women, who used to have small share in the market, are struggling to survive. For services such as salons, makeup parlours etc., Covid-19 has turned the in-demand services in good times to nothing less than a bargain in tough times. 

Young People Are Finding It Tougher To Enter The Workforce

Like with other sections of the workforce, young people and especially the youths of developing countries, have been hit hard by the pandemic. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than one in six young people have stopped working. 

Also, the youths who are in the workforce, or are now trying to enter it, will find it very difficult to get a decent job. “If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills, it will damage all our future and make it much more difficult to rebuild a better post-Covid economy,” said Guy Ryder, the director general of the ILO. 

If the condition remains the same, then the  present generation will face a huge exclusion from the laboour market; and in the future, when things will start to recover, there is a fear that many youths will still be left behind.

Before Corona, the life of Faisal (the sole earning member in his family) was going well. Six months before March 2020, he got hired in Delhi. But as soon as the Coronavirus lead to a health emergency alert worldwide, Faisal’s life became super difficult.

Due to the strict implementation of lockdowns, Faisal finds it near impossible to access public transport to get to work. Moreover, he works for a company that deals with heavy transport vehicles. So, anyway his job wasn’t required during the pandemic. 

Faisal recalls life in between leisure and lockdown came to a point of stagnation. After giving it three months of patience and solitude, he was forced to quit the job as he was going bankrupt with each passing day. The company couldn’t help him either as its employers were already running on losses. 

The economy as a whole was struggling, leading to the shattered dreams for many young people. India in particular, comprises a large population of young people: over 600 million people or almost one in two people, are under the age of 25.

Like Faisal, many youths are now getting finding it hard to enter the workforce. 

Hope For The Future

Life in Covid-19 has shown us many ups and downs. Unlike many losing jobs, a 2021 graduate student from the National Institute of Technology, Samridhi Vats got recruited by a pharma company. Vats recalled that when she got hired, a sense of security came around, where everyone was loosing jobs, she was fortunate enough to manage one.

But, adapting to the new normal, she has to WFH, which exhausts her— looking at a screen for 8-9 hours is very frustrating and unhealthy. Moreover, it may threaten one’s mental stability. 

Life in the online mode would lead to a robotic world, where communication, meetings, interactions would become theoretical. WFH sounds lucrative to begin with, but their isn’t a clear demarcation between work and life.

I believe that sooner or later, humans will find a way out of this hard time as well. 

 by Shahnawaz Alam

Featured image is for representational purposes only. Photo credit: PixaHive.
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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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