New Delhi: 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. It was aimed 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.
Over 80 people have been trained on running successful and high-impact digital campaigns around menstrual hygiene related issues such as sustainability, gender-related issues, sanitation through the workshop online since the lockdown started in March.
All of them 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.
Prajna Raj Wankawalla, 15, from Mumbai 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.
Pravin Nikam, Jaipur Action Network Fellow, is a lawyer based in Pune. He is the Founder of ROSHNI Foundation which is a non-profit organisation. He 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, 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. It aims to reach 6,000 adolescent girls from government and private schools and also to those out of school.
Anjali Surana, 17, 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.
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 them will be working on their own digital campaigns around a specific issue of menstrual hygiene management, which has been affected due to the Covid19 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.
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])