Meet the ASAP Change makers III

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !!  – See more at: http://asap-asia.org/blog/#sthash.NqtPhJ8h.dpuf

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Youth Champion Wangchuk Dema: I have been an active volunteer and social worker all my life. I am a feminist, youth and young women’s social advocate who works closely with young people at grass-root level especially for girls/young women empowerment and leadership. In line with this, I wholeheartedly work in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and fiercely advocate for safe abortion in Bhutan. I am currently an international coordinator for Y-PEER International (Asia Pacific region) and have served as a national coordinator for Y-PEER Bhutan. I have been a resource person in 6 National Training of Trainers for Y-PEER on SRHR and Peer Education (PE), and have also conducted various youth advocacy programs both online and offline. I have taken the initiative of going to schools and colleges to sensitize young boys and girls about their health and rights in terms of sexual and reproductive as well as significance of having education above all right now and not shying away from leadership qualities.

I intensely believe that every individual has the right to have control over their own body and that being said; women (specifically their bodies) in the society are more likely to be governed by the government or the men which is really distressing. With the help of some young people, I have been able to advocate about safe abortion to some health personnel after sensitizing to the young lot first. It was a great privilege for me to touch upon (un)safe abortion in the South Asia Young Women Leaders’ Dialogue (#FemParl) earlier this year.

By and large, women are incapable of ruling their own bodies; it’s the different aspects such as religion and politics, which prevents women from exercising their reproductive and sexual rights. Religion is often used as a system against women to keep the structure of patriarchy alive. I strongly believe that women should have the freedom to decide for their own bodies and life.

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Youth Champion Tanzila Khan: Growing up with a disability in Pakistan, I have experienced a lifestyle that is all about discrimination, alienation, stigma and exclusion. And this is the case for more than 10% of the world population. But as time has moved on and I have moved from being in a state of isolation to a state of owning world problems as my own and working to solve them I believe that we all should be part of the solution, if not then we all are part of the problem regardless.

It all begins with realizing where women are standing today and as nations are progressing, unfortunately women and their problems are not a priority for many nations. One issue that really moved me was unsafe abortions taking place around the world. I took the challenge of diving deeper into this violation of human rights and came across many insights that could be a building block for a campaign. The fact that abortion was completely illegal was in fact a myth because Islam does allow abortion if it endangers the mother’s life. This unfortunately is also a very common case many times expectant mothers are underage or undernourished and often die in delivering the child.

Being a small part of a giant wheel, me and my team set out to start work in the area of safe abortion but bringing in the most marginalized segment of the society; women with disabilities. We aimed that these women will not just benefit from the training tools and awareness we aim to provide them but also become a guiding source for women in their communities.

It all started from attending ASAP’s institute. From there we started with arranging a three-day workshop for women with disabilities. Through this workshop, we engaged 8 women with different types of disabilities and trained them about SRHR, Safe abortion, Law in Pakistan and Islam’s view. These women further went and held advocacy sessions in their local communities and reported back to us.

With so much enthusiasm and zeal, we have finally developed a national network, which is further divided into Sindh and Punjab Chapter. I am personally passionate about leading the Punjab Chapter. Though it’s a battle for women by women, we hope to engage the world into believing that every woman’s life matters and every woman has the right to decide about her body and when that happens. I am happy that I was part of the solution and not the problem.

Watch this space for more!

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Meet the ASAP Change Makers II

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !! 

prabanii-quote

Youth Champion Prabani Perera: I am a feminist who respects choices and believes in reproductive justice. I completed my Bachelors in Social Work at National Institute of Social Development (School of Social Work in Sri Lanka). I am a Youth Champion of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP) and work as Director of Advocacy and Networking at Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka (YANSL). I am also a counselor of Ask Us hotline which is the first ever hotline in Sri Lanka which provides information on post abortion care, contraceptives and sexuality. I have been part of many online campaigns and trainings conducted by ASAP and YANSL on women’s reproductive health and rights. I was also part of a research on mapping abortion friendly organizations and institutes within Colombo with another youth champion from Sri Lanka.

Through YANSL and ASK Us we have done various online campaigns targeting international days like photo campaigns, quizzes etc focusing the importance of women’s reproductive health and rights. These campaigns were eye openers for my friends, colleagues and family members, it is a pleasure to see that some sort of discussion is generated within the society through our campaigns and the feedbacks and the comments that I got was indeed positive and encouraging

I was lucky and privileged enough to be part of ASAP where I got experience and exposure from many other young advocates and feminists, about their work in different contexts. I gained the advocacy skills needed to advocate for safe abortion rights within the country and with relevant stakeholders. It also gave me a chance to talk on different platforms on the importance of respecting women’s reproductive rights. As a hotline counselor I experienced the feelings of women and young girls their vulnerabilities and weaknesses in terms of making decisions, accessing information and services etc. It provided me with motivation to fight for their rights.

This world would be more independent and free when every person’s is privileged to make decisions on behalf of themselves without any discrimination based on their gender, race, age, religion, sexuality, disability etc. Women need to take charge and to be respected for the choices they make. It is sad that women and girls are often unaware of their sexual and reproductive rights. To make this world a place where women could breathe freely its important that women have control over their bodies. Until that we all have to empower each other, be with each other in difficult times, spread love for each other and fight till we achieve what we believe is the true freedom of all women and girls.

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Youth Champion Pushpa Joshi Pradhan: “ Life is not merely to survive, but rather to live; And the true significance of life is acknowledged when you distinguish yourself as a change maker and put your effort to roll out a few improvements among the lives around you.”

The sense of change maker in myself evoked when I first worked as a facilitator for the young women factory workers to sensitize them about their Reproductive health and rights amid my high school days. The vivid experience of my participation in the first Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) in 2015 and the Youth Advocacy Refresher (YAR) in 2016 further helped me to nurture the dream that I had seen; The dream of a just society where people living their life enjoying every right to the fullest as mentioned in the UDHR, women enjoying their reproductive rights as specified in ICPD, CEDAW and Beijing rule. The involvement in the YCANN with wonderful team members has also provided me the platform to catalyze the advocacy and the activism that is necessary to meet the dream that I have aspired to achieve. The identification as ‘Youth champion’ carries a sense of pride as well as colossal obligations towards the better future of the women, advancing their sexual and reproductive health rights.

I strongly believe that conversations on important issues like choice, abortion, bodily autonomy, sex, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, etc., is very essential in order to debunk the myths related to it and to smash the stigmas around it.

In a country where child marriage and unsafe abortion still exists despite progressive laws and where the sexual and reproductive health of women is only limited up to maternal and child health care, it is extremely difficult to talk about bodily autonomy and bring about change in the thoughts and harmful belief system of the general population. But because of the support from the hardworking and like-minded activists and enthusiastic young people, I am extremely optimistic about the future of the women in Nepal and in global society. I have been trying my best to provide the meaningful contribution to amplify the ongoing movement. Being a young woman who has been challenging the patriarchy with other young activists, I foresee a society where women of the upcoming generation will not have to advocate for the same issues that the women from our senior generations had to deal with.

Bodily autonomy is one of the issues I firmly advocate for. It’s a shame that we are still battling for the women’s control over their body. Our body is the only thing which we call it our own; exclusively ours. The true and successful leadership can only flourish when you become the only decision maker over your body. Women and their bodies are controlled by various pillars of patriarchy, including religion, society, family, media and so on, by teaching the girls how to sit, how to dress, how to walk, what to do and what not to do and many more.

No matter how much we shout about global goals and achieving peaceful society, the goals will never be achieved until and unless the women are the masters of their own body.

Stay Tuned for More!

 

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Posted in Blogs On Youth Champions, International Women's Day | Comments Off on Meet the ASAP Change Makers II

Meet the ASAP Change Makers!

Commemorating #IWD2017 we are celebrating work of our young women champions in promoting women’s access to safe abortion in their region. This blog series is an attempt to acclaim their power as #ASAPChangemakers !!

shurabhi-quote

Youth champion Surabhi Shrivastava: I am unabashedly feminist about (almost) everything, and my feminist perspective influences every aspect of my life. My feminism, of course, also shapes the work that I do, which is basically geared towards engendering and advancing an open, non-judgemental and stigma-free discourse on anything and everything related to gender and sexuality, and more taboo and “controversial” a topic, the more fun it is to push for a conversation and dialogue on it! I am founder of an online platform for women in India to share their abortion stories and experiences, called Voice Your Abortion (one of its kind in India, go check it out on Facebook!), with the objective of ending the stigma, shame and silence that

My role, as a changemaker, is not only about standing up and speaking out in support of these issues, but also enabling others to do the same. This is because smashing patriarchy is a mammoth task, and we can only achieve it when we follow these three simple steps:

  1. Empower ourselves by (re)gaining control over our bodies – from being able to choose what to wear and when to go out, to deciding who to sleep with, whether to have children, etc.
  2. Enable others to empower themselves by creating a space that is accepting, non-judgemental and rights-affirming
  3. Work collectively towards the shared goal of social justice for all

Lastly, I strongly believe that we don’t need to work in an NGO space to bring about change. We can all do so in whatever spaces we occupy, be it our home, our office, our communities, our classrooms, etc. However, what’s needed, is to get out of our comfort zones, think, question, demand answers and persevere . Brining about change, however small, matters. But where it occurs doesn’t. And when we are aiming to overthrow patriarchy, and striving to gain control over our bodies (both are inextricably linked), we ought to be on the offence at all fronts. We can’t afford to get complacent. We can’t afford to back down.

Therefore, when it comes to bringing about change and claiming our rights, as one of my favorite online feminist posters proclaims: We can. We have. We will!

 

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Youth Champion Anika Binte Habib:  “It is indeed imperative for youth to involve ensuring gender equality in the society. As a young leader, I feel the need of my participation in the development agenda.”

I became the youth champion of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership in 2015. From there my journey has started to build social movements on safe abortion rights as well as women rights. Gender inequality affects the very fabric of life and has deep seeded effects in all of the development plans of governments within the region, especially the Sustainable Development Plan goals have very specific sections about poverty amongst women, child mortality which has underlying effects coming from a woman’s ability to choose to keep or abort a child which may or may not have been planned. As a part of the society, I feel the responsible to participate in the social construction and legal framework, which protects women.

This is how the journey of Youth Advocacy Institute for Development has started. The idea of this institution is to build a social movement to address women rights, and youth friendly health services. We believe a gender-discrimination free society where everyone gets equal rights to live with dignity. One of the main objectives of YouthAID is to bring diverse people who would work on the social cause collectively to achieve a greater goal by doing advocacy level of work. Behavioral and social change communications, advocacy, campaigns and building social movements are the main working areas for YouthAID to bring gender equality in the society.

Most of my work is related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), gender equality, women rights and youth friendly health services. I believe it is very important for us to build a network, where we can bring positive social changes through advocacy and social and behavioral change communications. In addition to that, we also need skilled and experienced youth who would contribute to the social development.

Collective work of youth can bring development. I may sound dreamy but I truly believe that if we have youth who are sensitized then we can ensure rights for all.

Watch this space for more updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in International Women's Day | Comments Off on Meet the ASAP Change Makers!

V Day for Valentines as well as Victory over our own Bodies!- by Surabhi Shrivastava

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Over the past month or so, my phone has been abuzz, almost every day, with Google alerts about news stories related to abortion. Surprisingly, most have been from mainstream (English language) Indian newspapers, either reporting about the filing of court cases by women to secure an abortion beyond the legal limit of 20 weeks, as mandated by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP), aka the abortion law in India, or about the court’s decision on these cases.

Although the flurry of such news is an exciting sign of the media’s increasing interest in covering an issue that has long been ignored, most of the reporting still largely focuses on the woman being compelled to approach the court to make a decision pertaining to her own body, usually under an extreme circumstance, thereby leading to a perception that such cases are rare occurrences that are somehow “deserving” of being reported because of their “shock value”.

What’s left out, however, is the broader conversation about the stigma and shame and simply lack of information around abortion. This is what prevents thousands of women from standing up and speaking about a perfectly valid and routine aspect of their healthcare, even when we know that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime.

What’s left out is the explanation of how patriarchal notions and norms around gender and sexuality perpetuate and reinforce the stigma, shame and silence around abortion, thereby making abortion a part of the bigger web of interconnected oppressions that confront women and other minorities day in and day out.

What’s left out is the ridiculousness that women can’t exercise their bodily autonomy, and instead must depend on doctors and judges to make decisions pertaining to their body, sexuality and life.

What’s also left out is that, how, by refusing to trust women to make their own decisions, especially about their bodies and trajectories of their reproductive lives, society repeatedly violates our bodily rights and integrity and undermines our inherent value as people.

Therefore, today, on February 14, as we rise collectively, as part of One Billion Rising, to speak out and demand an end to all forms of violence, be it physical, emotional, economic or sexual violence, we ought to also demand an end to the controls and denials that women continue to face.

We ought to demand an end to the violation they face when they are denied access to safe, legal, available and free abortion services. The violation they face when they are condemned to feel guilty and ashamed for a decision they made, and are “expected” to ask for forgiveness and feel remorseful. The violation they face when a routine healthcare procedure is politicized by those who will never become pregnant.

So, let’s rise!! Let’s demand an end to this!! Let’s re(claim) our bodies and lives!

And, let’s demand unapologetic access to safe, legal, available and free abortion services!

For every woman. Everywhere.

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Posted in Archives, International Days | Comments Off on V Day for Valentines as well as Victory over our own Bodies!- by Surabhi Shrivastava

Dying for Love

There is a whatsapp joke doing the rounds last week—

Valentine died for love, Romeo also died for love, Jack in Titanic died for love, Even Jesus Christ died for love. Where are the women ? Don’t buy any woman a Valentine’s day treat or gift till she gives you names of 5 women who died for love, because no woman would die for love. Wake up Guys !

Seriously ?

Ok, let’s start counting……..

The number of young girls who commit suicide after being jilted by boyfriends and lovers

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Chennai-tops-the-list-of-failed-love-suicides/articleshow/7350621.cms

The number of wives killed by men having affairs:

The number of women who are burnt to death for dowry and because they don’t leave violent marriages for the love of their children:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dowry-deaths-One-woman-dies-every-hour/articleshow/22201659.cms

The number killed because they fell in love with someone from the wrong caste/ class/ religion,

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/india-sees-huge-spike-honour-killings-161207153333597.html

India has registered an almost 800 percent rise in the number of killings in the name of “honour” reported last year, according to figures presented in parliament.

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The number of women dying while giving birth : love for their partner, family, society, the human race ?http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/5-women-die-every-hour-during-childbirth-in-India-WHO/articleshow/52781552.cms

The number of women disfigured, blinded, scarred for life due to acid attacks by men:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/309-acid-attack-cas
es-in-14-300-rise-in-3-yrs/

Acid-Attack

The number of women who carry on in the face of violence till they finally get beaten to death because they don’t leave home for the love of their children:

http://www.newsweek.com/deathly-toll-domestic-violence-india-388125

One woman dies every hour says this article from 2013.

And besides this Last year, over three lakh women were kidnapped, raped, molested—and in some extreme cases, killed—by men across the country.

There are 860 hours in one year. Do the math.

And then bring on the presents for Valentine’s Day and make it big !

Of course, if you are a follower of the Asaram Bapu who raped a 15 year old girl and allegedly sexually assaulted many many more, you are probably celebrating today as Matru Pitru Samman diwas. Wah, kya bat hai !

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https://scroll.in/article/742580/asaram-bapu-rape-case-as-witnesses-die-this-family-is-keeping-its-hopes-for-justice-alive

 

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