Last week, as we’ve blogged previously, IWHC held its annual gala event, which honored Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health. We also featured Ishita Chaudhry, the founder of IWHC partner organization the YP Foundation.
Ishita was both riveting and inspiring, and we’re all still thinking about her words. Here is an excerpt:
I began my work nine years ago, when I graduated from high school, because I wanted to change and challenge those silent spaces in our lives. I want to live in a world where human rights are upheld; where young people’s leadership skills are strengthened; where women and young people are recognized as powerful change makers, and equal stakeholders in society; a world where they’re involved in making policies and executing programs; that we work with them, and not just for them, to impact our health, our rights, and to safeguard our lives.
In 2002, with this vision, I founded (and today am proud to work in) a youth-led organization in India known as the YP Foundation. We support and enable young people to create programs and influence policies at all levels in the areas of gender, sexuality, health, education, the arts-because we believe they’re equally important-and governance. In the last nine years, we have gone from three high school students working from my parents’ bedroom, to 300,000 young people across the country. Needless, of course, to say, my parents’ bedroom is now famous.
In 2009 we decided to challenge the status quo, setting up India’s first youth-led campaign for legalizing and supporting the implementation of sexuality education. The “Know Your Body, Know Your Rights” campaign in India is supported by IWHC, UN organizations, and civil society. And since then, “Know Your Body, Know Your Rights” has trained 300 young activists from different communities and cities across India.
What are we challenging? We’re challenging the convention and the notion that young people from diverse communities cannot work together because they are different. Rich and privileged, poor and unprivileged young people come together to lobby collectively and to work in their own communities for safe access to health information and health services.
Watch the below video to see her speech, or click here to read the full text.