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Online workshops held by Youth Ki Awaaz on mainstreaming issues around menstrual health, hygiene

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The workshops are aimed to empower young change makers with set of skills to create powerful social media campaigns, scale the impact of their social justice projects online

More than 15 young change makers from across the country who have been working on mainstreaming issues around menstrual health and hygiene participated in online workshops held by Youth Ki Awaaz as the world gears up for Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28. The workshops are aimed to empower these young change makers with a set of skills to create powerful social media campaigns and scale the impact of their social justice projects online.

These workshops have been running since October 2019 as part of the #PeriodPaath campaign in partnership with the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a body affiliated to the United Nations, and so far Youth Ki Awaaz has held these workshops in three cities: Jaipur, Lucknow and Delhi. Ever since the lockdown started in March 2020, these workshops have moved online and Youth Ki Awaaz has trained over 80 young change makers on running successful and high-impact digital campaigns around various intersections of menstrual hygiene related issues such as sustainability, gender-related issues, education, sanitation etc. These 80 young change-makers are now a part of the YKA Action Network, which is an online community of other young change makers working to solve critical issues at scale. 

At these workshops, the young campaigners are taught how to design their own digital campaigns, define a problem statement or issue they wish to tackle; create strategies to address the different audience segments; employ social media tools and skills effectively and influence the media and target the right decision maker or policy makers  to take assertive action on their demands.

Over the course of next six months, each of these young change makers will be working on their own digital campaigns around a specific issue of menstrual hygiene management, which has been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The issues range from lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, lack of knowledge, lack of health and medical staff who can address concerns around menstrual hygiene, lack of education around menstrual hygiene since schools and colleges are shut. Each online campaign will be targeting a specific decision maker to come up with time bound and targeted solutions that address these concerns via means of a policy or guidelines.

On the eve of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Youth Ki Awaaz salutes these change-makers who have been relentlessly working in this field.

Pravin Nikam, Jaipur Action Network Fellow: He is a human rights defender and believes in upholding the democratic values. He is the Founder of ROSHNI Foundation which is a non-profit organisation, focussed on mentoring and enabling adolescents, young people, communities and organisations to strengthen their capabilities to develop, implement and maintain effective menstrual hygiene management, WASH, gender equality and peace building initiatives.

Nikam plans to start a campaign with an objective to make Zilla Parishad, Ahmednagar, Pune, initiate Menstrual Hygiene management (MHM) ToT sessions for teachers in Ahmednagar, which will directly impact 600 teachers and indirectly help to reach 8,000 girls by December 2020. The trained teachers will provide psycho-social support to adolescent girls in school; and provide regular hygiene promotion classes in every school. The training will happen at district and block levels that will enable teachers to understand the importance of MHM and develop skills and capacities to address MHM in schools and at the local community level.

Shalini Jha, Delhi Action Network Fellow: Jha has started Project Alharh – a menstrual hygiene campaign which aims to normalise naturalise the idea of menstruation to create an enabling atmosphere in Bhagalpur district, Bihar, so menstruators can have stigma-free periods and can access menstrual products and services without shame. The campaign spans across 12 months and started in December, 2019. The campaign aims to reach 6,000 adolescent girls from Govt and private schools and also to those out of school. To ensure that the range of awareness is not limited, the campaign is to make aware and inform frontline group of at least 50 members comprising youth volunteers, teachers, parents, Anganwadi workers, ASHAs, by the end of 2020.

Karan Singh, Dantewada: Dantewada, is currently working in Bachpan Banao and leading School Transformation Programme in 11 Govt primary schools. For the last six months, he is actively involved in menstrual hygiene and become a part of a campaign named as ‘safar ek pahal stri samman ke liye’ where he is spreading awareness regarding menstrual hygiene and govt policies in govt residential schools and community of tribal area in Chhattisgarh.

Rajasi Kulkarni Diwakar, Mumbai, is a Menstrual Health Educator since past six years and conducts awareness sessions on menstrual and reproductive health. She recently launched her initiative ‘Bleed Red Go Green’ where she has been educating girls and women in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. She has travelled to various places in India and abroad to present her research papers on MHM issues and also has been instrumental in conducting workshops for the public in inaccessible places across India. She is also ambassador for Ecofemme (A cloth pad enterprise) and also core team member at ‘Green the Red’. It is a pan India group of volunteers working on sustainable menstruation.

Anjali Surana, Kolkata, is an 11th grade student at Calcutta International School who founded a student-run organisation aiming to promote gender equality with a focus on menstrual Inequity. FullStop raises funds to distribute eco-friendly reusable cloth pads to underprivileged girls alongside holding activity-based learning sessions with them to address issues such as MHM and SRH. In 2020 itself, FullStopp has directly helped over 500 girls and reached over 2,000 people. Anjali also hosted a virtual women’s summit featuring lawyers, activists, actors, athletes and other accomplished women on International Workers Day to raise funds for workers affected by COVID-19.

Prajna Raj Wankawalla, Mumbai: Prajna is the founder of an NGO- Myselfesteen (MST). She started this NGO for mental health in February, 2020. MST serves as a platform for people to share their stories through short videos. This platform provides free counsellor services to women and girls if they feel low during their menstrual cycles and it is a perfect platform to share stories related to Menstrual Hygiene and to spread awareness about the same.

Shraddha Subhashrao Telange, Pune, is associated with an organisation called Work for Equality, which is working for developing leadership qualities among SC / STs and minorities along with support for girls educational development. She is working as an advocacy coordinator of a programme focussing on menstrual hygiene and lack of sanitation facilities at schools for adolescent girls. They are planning to organise signature campaign along with charter of demands and send it to Zilla Parishad CEO, education officer, deputy director education and education ministry so they will give priority to the issue and produce written order for all the schools in Pune district and state to follow all the criteria of menstrual management, water, sanitation and toilets facilities at schools under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Registration link for upcoming online workshops on menstrual hygiene management: https://tinyurl.com/y9sgakxd

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