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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Di Sanza

Interview: Vandana

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Name, pronouns, career/job title?

My name is Vandana, I am a second year pharmacy student, and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am also the founder of the advocacy and informative campaign Menstrual Hygiene on YouTube and Instagram.

How has being a feminist / (if applicable woman) impacted your life and career thus far?

Throughout history, women have consistently faced unrelenting underrepresentation and discrimination. I have certainly been a victim of this oppression. Most particularly, when it comes to menstruation. In India, periods are one of the most taboo topics that could ever be spoken. I believe that this is due to the unresolved, dated sexism that has flooded into our modern culture and society. Growing up, I was not given a great deal of information based on my period, and was thus, not able to comfortably and proudly have one. Of course, once I learned more about it, I decided to take this knowledge and use it for the betterment of others.

In terms of my career, I am still a student in the pharmaceutical sciences. However, being a women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields, can be overbearing to say the least. Men around me have an inherent belief that I am not as intelligent, worthy, or able. Nonetheless, I have pursued through these inequalities and allowed for a bigger drive.

In your opinion, what are the most prominent challenges facing women today?

I think that women are still taken for granted. This revolves around medical treatment, educational opportunity, and representation. Personally, I am most passionate about the debate over reproductive rights. This involves the arguments about birth control, abortion, ‘the pill’ and menstrual equality.

Also, Female Genital Mutilation. On a global scale, female genital mutilation has become an issue of concern for many people. The United Nations sees the practice of cutting a woman’s genitals as a violation of human rights and it is becoming a common topic of dialogue. The practice is embedded in a number of cultures around the world; and is a tradition that often holds religious ties, and is intended to prepare a young woman for marriage. However, the emotional and physical toll it can take is great.

How has the political and social climate of social justice changed throughout your lifetime?

Politics have not changed noticeable during my 20 years of life. For the most part, politics continues as a continuum. Once any drastic change or alteration in policy occurs, years later a politician of the opposite party uses their power to enact the exact opposite. This pattern has not necessarily changed a great deal.

The most drastic change took place over social media and the internet. More information is available, conversations among all types of people are thriving, and many politicians now how platforms over social media. I think that we need to wait another decade or two to see the drastic impacts of this in terms of politics.

What is of your utmost priority in terms of social justice and/ or politics currently?

Justice comes with rights. Many people who I am introduced to and grew up with tend to forget this fact. I want to make sure that others understand that one cannot be fully compensated and paid with dignity by society without proper legal and social recognition.

Please describe your social and / or political activism:

I do my best to educate women in India and the United States about their rights and hygiene. This allows for women to not get taken advantage of without their knowledge. If a woman is being threatened, does not know how to take care of her health, or is not being respected, she should know how to demand for the proper treatment.

I also make sure that the women I teach are able to do the best in their professional lives, wisely use their resources, and take control of their periods.

Overall, I try to spread love and respect for each and every person on this planet; and I encourage others to do the same.

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