Podcasts – the future of story telling

woman with a headphone and mic

We recently were part of the Radio Festival 2018 as podcasters. We were thrilled to be able to discuss future of podcasts in India and how podcasts could help revive radio.

Podcasts are online shows that can be downloaded to any personal mobile device, or streamed online. Simple enough. They have been referred as the future of radio and might even alter the way radio have been streaming information.

In India, radio is still considered one of the biggest source of information for people living in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and towns. Radio is able to reach and connect to different parts of the country, where other source of information might not have reached in the past.

In the recent years, mobile has been able to penetrate some of these unreachable parts of the country. With the number of mobile towers that are getting erected in the rural parts of the country, people in the rural areas have more access to mobiles. So there is access to the infrastructure for the information, but content of the information is very much still limited.

Present of Podcasts 

Radio also for the longest time in public memory has been doing something similar. It has been producing content in mass for general public and has been reaching to people in different parts of the country. So what is different about podcasts?

Podcasts decentralize the power of content creation, and let common person enter the domain of knowledge production. Audio Podcasts does not require technical expertise with regard to infrastructure. It requires some equipments and some passion for audio content.

It is one of the by-product of the internet which has allowed people from all walks of life to enter into knowledge production business.

Podcasts, let user run into details and lets you play with details. It is a medium, which works on details without having the trouble of visualisation. Matters of representation is totally dependent on user’s imagination. Imagination is the key in audio podcasts. Audio podcasts play with user’s imagination and at the same time provide them with power to recreate stories and content in a manner they are most comfortable. Focusing on audio only forces user’s imagination to fill in the blanks.

 

Future of Podcasts 

India has so many traditions of storytelling. It thrives on oral archives and for the longest time oral conversations were one of the methods of transmission of knowledge. Radio has been an extension of this, where communities were connected by a common thread of information, which was mostly controlled by state. With privatisation more private players got into this domain and with internet, it opened spaces for citizens to become the creators and archivers of stories. It just slightly shifted its storage space – from direct human interaction, to radio transmitters to finally an equipment one holds on to their hands – mobile device. Our stories are still living and thriving amongst our spaces.

More and more people getting active on podcasts production. In India the knowledge production is still limited to elite class and the cities, but the dissemination of these podcasts are definitely seeping in different classes and demographics. One of the disruption brought in by podcasts are the fact that a lot of marginalised communities have access to a range of content and can make choices. Members of these communities with personalised access or small group access can listen to various content in their space and time. Radio has always been seen as a source of education where mass knowledge was shared for benefit for the society. This content always had a certain kind of approach which pushed for public policies which mostly re-iterated patriarchal notions of the society. Since the source of knowledge production was state, there was not enough space for dissent.

This is where podcasts present the future, it lets the individuals take on space in knowledge production, and provide an alternative, or different types of narratives within different platforms. At a time, when radio has been completely taken over by Bollywood songs, the long  oral form has been pushed out of .

Check our podcasts here : 

At Hidden Pockets Collective, we believe that audio podcasts has a huge potential in the field of sexual and reproductive health and can reach places which are generally kept away from knowledge production. It is cost-effective and involves fewer resources and time. It is a great concept especially for young people who would like to create their own content.

Walking the New Years Eve on MG Road, Bangalore

Night on MG Road on New Years Eve

2016’s New Years Eve started with horrific images of New Year Celebrations at MG Road in Bangalore. People had gone wild, women were groped and pretty much everybody had a bad night. This is what the media wanted us to believe. For days there were national debates around women’s safety, Indian cultural values and everything one could think to spoil a party. Nobody really asked anyone about what could have been done differently. At Hidden Pockets, we were bit scared of the consequences ensuing post this traumatic night. In response, we resorted to walks. We decided to conduct a pleasure pockets walk in one of the lanes behind Christ University, a lane which was full of young people. We curated a walk, where people from very different backgrounds came together, discussed, fought and amongst all of this, walked. A lot of people questioned the nuances of safety, some of them shared their fears and some of them even disclosed their own prejudices against some communities. But we all had one thing in common; we really wanted to have fun and spend some good time together.

This was the background, so to my utter surprise when preparations for New Years Eve for 2017 began, the focus was completely on putting CCTVs, installing around 10,000 police personnels and putting barricades everywhere possible. I was amused by this focus on providing security to young women from young men. There was an almost whisper going around that this year also things would go bad. People would be assaulted. After all, Sunny Lione was banned from performing in Bangalore city. Surely, the city was not ready to handle fun.

At this same time, some of the students from research institutions and colleges from Bangalore  were getting agitated as well as saddened by the situation. They were one of those few bystanders who had witnessed the commotion at 2016 New Years Eve. Yes, it was bad, Yes, they had to protect their friends, but still wanted to go out and see the commotion. How does one make a public place safer?

Extremely tough question : How does one make a public place safer? A question that we at Hidden Pockets have been unravelling with.  How do we take back these public places, and ensure that women would like to go back to these spaces, feel comfortable and at the same time enjoy their time there. We have been conducting walks in various cities looking for this answer. Be it Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore or Delhi, what makes us leave the roads and stay inside to the extent we have forgotten public places.

As part of the solution, we decided that we would curate a walk for New Years Eve on 31st Dec 2017. Not at all an easy decision. Not something that our parents would have agreed off. Not after the media reportage of the 2016 night. There was nothing to look forward, nothing to be hopeful about.

But there were this bunch of college students who wanted to be there, who wanted to ensure these places are accessible for everyone.

After all, who were we actually scared off? 

So we started conversations, meetings, discussions, wherever possible ask those uncomfortable questions. How can we make roads safer? Who are we scared off? What if police tell us not to proceed with the walk? What if the crowd goes beyond control? What will we tell people? Why should anyone trust us?

As clearly observed, we did not start on positive note, it was a lot of self-doubt, fear as well as fear of the invisible stranger. We did not have much to hold on to, and even the optimist amongst had a tough time keeping the spirit of people up throughout these conversations. After all, women safety had become the utmost issue in the world, and here we were trying to take back a lane in a city that some of us were brought up.

 

On 31st night, most of us reached the starting point, around 2 hours before the midnight. We were completely not sure of the situation that we might be encountering. A lot of us had to back out, because lack of permission from parents, guardians and anyone who thought it was unsafe for anyone to be there at that time of the year. Remember, we are talking about New Years Eve in a metropolitan city like Bangalore in India, at the city center. Not just the guardians, a lot of us ourselves did not feel like being part of this narrative which had become completely about modern cities which are becoming decadent and about loss of cultural values. But there were some of us, who were still longing to be part of this mishmash of night, which had some real mixed signals to offer.

What is the night, if not fear of the stranger? 

Around 40 of us had gathered in front of the LIC building on MG Road. There were thousands of police everywhere with lathis. There were scores of young people around. There were plenty of people with their families also walking around and admiring the crowd, the noise and just seamless rush of people pouring into this part of the city.

I was busy noticing the strangers around. Most of them were men, walking around aimlessly, walking about in their own happy times. Some smoking, some busy taking selfies and most of them walking around in groups. As people trickled in for the walk, we started talking to each other, there were some senior people who had decided to join us and who happily told us that they had been coming for the New Years Eve as young boys, it was always like this crazy. It did surprise me. Such a waste of a night.

As the night progressed and we prepared ourselves for the walk, we did realise our original path curated for the walk, was blocked for security reasons. This is something that truly disappointed me. A beautiful path which could have been a great place for people to hold events was blocked because the government was scared of its own people. This was stupid, sad and at some level even kiddish. We still decided to continue with our walk.

The idea was simple, we will walk towards the celebrations as a group and maybe even attempt singing songs. Some of us sang, some of us attempted enjoying the sight around and some of were alert. It was not an easy walk.

With so many people running around, some people howling, some people screaming. It did get confusing after a point. Why was everyone shouting? Is this a way to celebrate an event?

We never reached the finish line. We stopped our walk in the middle of it, and decided to join the onlookers and stare at the sky. Yes, that is exactly what we did. We looked up in the sky, waiting for something awesome to happen.

 

No countdown, no fireworks, no Sunny Lione. It was not what I thought it could be.

 

This is small glimpse of it:


While I was returning post the midnight, post a walk that could have been much more, I thought about some of the strangers I hugged as the New Years approached, some of the strangers who protected me from some  men on the streets and some of the people who decided to join the walk; well they did not have anything else to do or maybe they were just lonely. I remember specifically this one girl who kept on insisting that we sing songs. While boys were howling, some of us even attempted singing “Hum honge kamyab”.

Images and Video courtesy : Sekulu Nyekha.

Events Conducted in 2017

Events Conducted in 2017

 

Walk conducted in Bangalore :

 

Gender Sensitisation workshops with Tech groups:

Hackathon by Editors Lab

Inclusive Technologies: ‘Gender Sensitisation’ workshop with FSMK students in Mangalore

BroC0de: Gender and Technology Workshop at HasGeek

Code of Conduct talks to make technology spaces more inclusive for all

Gender and Tech with Open Source Community

Gender focussed Tech Solutions

Workshops with Young People:

 

Women’s Health and The City

Does anyone ask for young people’s consent?

Logical Indian and Gender Talk

Radio:

Launching Radio Show on Sexual and Reproductive Health

International Conferences :

Unleash Lab 2017, Denmark : SDGs

APCRSHR9: Asia Pacific coming together to discuss Sexual and Reproductive health?

National Conferences, Workshops, Hackathons :

Stories and Safe spaces in our work: SAHR

Whose baby? Women, Men and Contraception

APCRSHR9: Asia Pacific coming together to discuss Sexual and Reproductive health?

2 women standing in front of poster about APCRSHR9

Hidden Pockets Collective participated at 9th Asia Pacific Conference on  Reproductive and  Sexual Health Rights in Vietnam in 2017.

The Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights  is a biennial gathering of civil society, young people, academia, government, media, private sector, and development partners from the region concerned about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The first APCRSHR was organized in 2001 in Manila and the succeeding seven conferences were hosted by countries across Asia as Thailand (2003), Malaysia (2005), India (2007), China (2009), Indonesia (2011), Philippines (2014), and Myanmar (2016). It was the first time Viet Nam hosted this conference in the context of Viet Nam had big change in laws and policies related to SRHR.We were there to present our work with young people around abortion and comprehensive sexuality education.

It was super exciting to be there with some amazing other organisations from India like the YP Foundation and CREA.

 

 

 

 

 

As part of ASAP Youth Champions ,  Aisha George from Hidden Pockets collective was there to meet young people from Asia Pacific working on issue of abortion.

Jasmine George, as part of Women Deliver fellowship was there to share stories around usage of audio podcasts to deliver comprehensive sexuality education in schools in India.

 

 

 

 

FC2 also had a booth in the conference where they were showcasing their products and even helped us in understanding their female condoms. Remember, we have reviewed their products in the past and were only happy to meet them in person and also get a chance to see a demonstration of the Female Condoms.

 

Overall, it was a great experience to meet young advocates working on sexual and reproductive health and demanding changes from their various governments. It was also fun learning about so many great initiatives being conducted in countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan , Mangolia and many other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does anyone ask for young people’s consent?

A woman in pink colour kurta talking to young people.

 

Hidden Pockets Collective recently conducted a workshop on consent for young people with Project Khel in Uttar Pradesh. It was conducted for children above the age of 10 years old to 17 years in different schools.

We asked the young people if they had ever talked about issue of consent with their friends, family and communities. There were lot of questions about right to say yes, right to no, and questions about how to convince a person.

They often had questions about who had a right to give consent, not everyone felt they had a right. Also for most of them, they felt like parents decided things for them.

Even though nobody explicitly mentioned about child marriages, young people did acknowledge the fact that a lot of young girls had to drop out of schools because of marriages.

 

Are young people there in the National Health Policy 2017?

a panel consisting of women and men on a consultation on sexual and reproductive health

Hidden Pockets Collective took part in Public Consultation held by Prayas and Human Right Law Network in Bhopal in 2017. This year the theme was around Legal interventions in Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Are young people there in the National Health Policy 2017? In order to answer this question, it is important to understand the definition of young people. According to the National Youth Policy 2014, young people in India, which is people in the age group of 15-29 years of age, comprise 27.5% of the population. At present, about 34% of India’s Gross National Income (GNI) is contributed by the youth, aged 15-29 years. Government of India spends about Rs.55,000 crores on non-targeted schemes including health designed for various demographic segments of which youth are also beneficiaries.

Considering the youth contribution to the national population and Gross National Income, it becomes pertinent to understand the National Health Policy from the perspective of young people.

Areas where young people have been mentioned in the National Health Policy

It is essential to understand that though the National Youth Policy acknowledges that 15-29 years of age is the age group of the youth, the National Health Policy nowhere specifically addresses the need of this particular age group although it mentions and includes adolescents with respect to several aspects. However, taking into consideration the different aspects that pertain to the youth, following may be seen as the areas that address the needs of the youth:

Objectives under Progressively achieve universal health coverage:

“Assuring availability of free, comprehensive primary health care services, for all aspects of reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health and for the most prevalent communicable, non-communicable and occupational diseases in the population.”

Under Policy Thrust – Preventive and promotive health:

“an expansion of scope of interventions to include early detection and response to early childhood development delays and disability, adolescent and sexual health education, behavior change with respect to tobacco and alcohol use, screening, counseling for primary prevention and secondary prevention from common chronic illness –both communicable and non-communicable diseases.”

National Health programmes:

The policy gives special emphasis to the health challenges of adolescents and long term potential of investing in their health care.

“The scope of Reproductive and Sexual Health should be expanded to address issues like inadequate calorie intake, nutrition status and psychological problems interalia linked to misuse of technology, etc.”

However, this seems to only include youth between the age of 15-18 or 19.

In order to better understand the presence of youth in the National Health Policy, it becomes important to understand the policy in the light of the National Youth Policy, which was passed earlier in 2014.

Alignment between National Health Policy and National Youth Policy

Maternal health

National Health Policy 2017 and the National Youth Policy 2014, both address maternity health and the need to address the different aspects related to it for the mother and the newborn child.  It is progressive that the government acknowledges the need for expansion of reproductive and sexual health for adolescents and the need to address social determinants for maternal health. However, how it intends to implement these measures has to be seen especially with respect to National Health Policy.

Education on nutrition

Both the policy frameworks have acknowledged the need to educate the youth about the need for the education among Youth about nutrition and calorie intake

Sex education

The National Youth Policy notes the need to create “awareness about family planning, birth control, STDs, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, especially in rural areas and (c) addressing issues concerning emotional and mental health (e.g. risk of depression and potential suicide attempts), esp. in case of adolescent youth.”

Addressing high risk groups for sexually transmitted diseases

“Enhanced capacity for detection and treatment of communicable diseases must be developed, especially for pregnant mothers and other high-risk groups.” – National Youth Policy 2014

While there are alignments with respect to several policies, there are several gaps between the policies and even otherwise. These gaps may have a far-reaching effect on the sexual and reproductive health of the youth.

Gaps between both policies and otherwise

Addressing sex ratio

Along with maternal health, the National Youth Policy also addresses the need to bring down female feticide to improve child sex ratio

“There is a need to pay special attention to health issues concerning women youth. This would entail greater pre-natal and post-natal care for women in vulnerable age group of 14-18 years, need to bring down maternal and infant mortality rates, campaign against female feticide to improve child sex ratio, etc.”

Marginalized and disadvantaged youth

The National Youth Policy 2014 acknowledges the need to support “a few segments of the youth population require special attention. These include economically backward youth, women, youth with disabilities, youth living in conflict affected regions including left wing extremism, and youth at risk due to substance abuse, human trafficking or hazardous working conditions.”

This is not the case with the National Health Policy. Except women as a group, the intersectionality of young people with other groups of people has not been dealt with in detail in the National Health Policy 2017. There seems to be a gap in understanding the impact of an individual being subject to multiple challenges due to the intersectionality.

For example: A person may be disabled, transgender and HIV positive

Disability

  •      Equity: Reducing inequity would mean affirmative action to reach the poorest. It would mean minimizing disparity on account of gender, poverty, caste, disability, other forms of social exclusion and geographical barriers. It would imply greater investments and financial protection for the poor who suffer the largest burden of disease.
  •      Health Status and Programme Impact: Establish regular tracking of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) Index as a measure of burden of disease and its trends by major categories by 2022.
  •      “Research on social determinants of health along with neglected health issues such as disability and transgender health will be promoted.”

Transgender violence:

  •      Unfortunately, both policies do not focus on the needs of sexual minorities going beyond the ambit of HIV/AIDS with focused interventions on the high risk communities like MSM (Men who have Sex with Men), Transgender, FSW (Female Sex workers), etc. and prioritized geographies for control of HIV/AIDS. It is worth noting though that the National Youth Policy was passed in January 2014 much before the NALSA judgment of 2014 that recognised transgenders as the third gender in the country.
  •      Gender violence also affects the transgender community, going beyond just women. However, the policy limits the scope to women.

Gender based violence:

  •      The section on Gender based violence notes that public hospitals need to be made women-friendly and the staff need orientation to gender sensitivity issues. It also states that healthcare to survivors and victims of gender based violence needs to be provided free and with dignity in the public and private sector.
  •      Gender violence also affects the transgender community, going beyond just women. However, the policy limits the scope to women.
  •      Even with respect to women, the policy does not qualify or define gender violence or gender sensitivity issues.

Universal Health Coverage and Right to Health

The 12th Plan seeks to extend the outreach of public health services for moving towards the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through National Health Mission. – National Youth Policy 2014

National Health Policy 2017 has reiterated the same. It advocates an “incremental assurance based approach”. The policy tries to understand Right to Health from two perspectives.

The policy mentions that the medical tribunal will also be responsible for resolution of disputes related healthcare and also the need for protection of patients including right to information, access to medical records, confidentiality, privacy, among others. Information related to health is of sensitive nature especially sexual and reproductive health. This could include details about HIV and AIDS patients, abortion data (both married and unmarried women), individuals affected by other STDs, among others. What happens if there is a data leak? The government recently admitted to Aadhaar data leak.  Several state governments including Madhya Pradesh have mandated linking Aadhaar to HIV treatment. News reports note a drop in registration at ART centres since the announcement of this integration.

Right to privacy was recently declared as a fundamental right. However, there is no law protecting the privacy of Indians. It is worth noting that the verdict on mandating Aadhaar is expected in November 2017.

The consultation was an excellent initiative to bring people working in the public health sector under one umbrella and discuss issues affecting various different communities. We shared our concerns regarding young people and their role in the public health sector.

 

Note : Brindaalakshmi had attended and presented on behalf of Hidden Pockets Collective.

 

Whose baby? Women, Men and Contraception

A male condom and a lubricant

I got this amazing chance to attend “A workshop on Contraceptives” conducted by the CT Innovation lab. Does it sound exciting? Yes it does. For a young woman who has never heard about anything other than condoms, a workshop on contraceptives would be fascinating. And the best part comes when after learning about the contraceptives, one needs to design it for the users. Here user being you and me.

For those who are not familiar with the term “Contraceptives”. They are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. It is also called Birth control techniques. How do they work? The basic principle is to prevent the sperm from getting to and fertilizing the egg. The contraceptives act like a barrier between the sperm and the egg.

There are different kinds of Contraceptives. Condom being the most popular one. Some of them bring hormonal changes and few of them dont. So it is very important to understand what kind of a contraceptive one should use, depending on one’s preferences and likings. However, the biggest challenge here is that not all are aware about contraceptive methods. In a country like ours (India), only married women get to know about contraceptives that to when they are planning for a child. Many a times even married women are not aware about the different methods and the choices available. So the awareness about contraceptives is close to zero.

 

Again for those who have no clue about methods of Contraception, let me give a brief on it. We can divide them in two categories, Hormonal and Non – Hormonal methods. Under Hormonal methods we have the Birth Control Pills, Vaginal Rings, Birth Control Patches, Implants, Injections and under Non – Hormonal methods mainly we have condom (male/female), cervical cap, diaphragm, copper IUD. Imagine there are so many options and we are hardly aware about them. For more information related
to how these methods function and the pros and cons of it, do stay tune for our podcast on contraception.

It was an amazing experience to work with so many experts. Researchers, innovators, biomedical engineers, professors of biological engineering, illustrators, podcaster. The main aim behind this workshop was to create a contraceptive product for women. A contraceptive that was easy to use, simple to understand and also non hormonal in long run. The ideation process was extremely challenging as we were trying to come up with a product which is layered with taboos. The aim was to cover all the women who are sexually active.

CT Innovation lab had an interesting research to share. They had spoken to many women and it clearly showed how these women were highly fed up with the methods. From condoms to injectables all had their own flaws. Some of the male partners refused wearing condoms, the women who got IUDs inserted developed infection and many were unaware about injectables. Many spoke about how it is the mother in law who decides on the method. There were women who got sterilized at the age of 25-27.

Now the question came what are these women looking for? And the response was very interesting. Many of them wanted something which can be worn on the body, such as a toe ring, a duppata, a nail paint, a bangle. Something which is easier to wear and looks very familiar and normal. Something which the mother in law cannot find out and the women can use it as and when she needs it. Many said anything which doesn’t bring hormonal changes or has side effects, few said they want all the tests to be done on male partners now as they were fed of trying new methods.

 

So we have a huge challenge now! First to make women aware about different kinds of contraceptives, how they work, the pros and cons. To Make them aware that one has bunch of options from which she can select depending on her preferences. Second to keep working on how can we come up with a better contraceptive method, which is affordable, easy to use, less of side effects and suits one’s body. And last how to make the women aware that it should be her choice what method to select and not the mother in laws. She needs to take control over contraceptive methods.

 

So finally, I came out as an experience designer as part of this workshop. I saw, I touched and I conquered some of my own myths and fears. There is so much to learn more, but really excited about sharing my experiences with you all.

Gender focussed Tech Solutions

Aisha explaining some of the engineering students about Tech solutions

Open Data Hack(ODH) Bangalore 2017 held on 14th & 15th of October, 2017 supported by RHoK India was part of the series of hackathons in India. Themes for Open Data Hack Bangalore 2017 were climate change, disaster warning systems and women health.

Hidden Pockets Collective participated as one of the organisations which provided a problem statement for the hackathon. We wanted engineering students to provide and look for tech solutions that would focus on issues around sexual and reproductive health.

Health is often the neglected issue which rarely gets any technology focussed especially if we are looking towards public health sector.

We also wanted more women engineers to come forward and take interest in our work and maybe encourage them to focus on tech solutions that would be more immediate and beneficial for them.

Logical Indian and Gender Talk

Jasmine giving talk for Logical Indian

a group of people standing and posing for images for Mash Mixer

Hidden Pockets Collective was invited to be part of talk on #gendersensitization with The Logical Indian and MASH Project in Bangalore. It was wonderful to be able to discuss Gender and its complexities with a group of young people working in different set ups.

Jasmine giving talk for Logical Indian

We discussed about how spaces around us are gendered and how most of us negotiate these spaces and how some of us find it more difficult than the others!

Women’s Health and The City

When was the last time you ventured out in your city looking for health services? Where do you go? Whom do you talk to? Do you think your city reflect your tensions and worries?

Hidden-Pockets and KrantiKālī invite you to “Women’s Health And The City”. Come join us and let us seek answers for these questions. Come, share your stories with us.

Please register here to confirm your spot on the day of the event!
https://goo.gl/forms/pExWnb5J5YOIlxQ32

Who is this event for?
Young Women (Health Seekers) : We want their personal stories, stories related to how do they navigate their city, are they comfortable navigating the city. Have they ever visited public health centres? Are they comfortable navigating public health hospitals? Any personal experience on accessing public healthcare services. Why was it good or bad?

Young Men : It would be awesome to have 1-2 men on the panel who can talk about their experiences. If they have any personal stories where they faced problems while meeting the doctors along with their partners.

You can even participate as:
Speakers: So we are looking for 3 kinds of speakers – Health seeker (women), Health service providers and men (their experiences)

Health service provider: Personal stories on how is it to interact with women who visit the clinic. Do single women come? What are the major reasons for them to come to the clinic. Basically the experience of the doctor.

Poets: Poems on women navigating city (Feelings she goes throw),
Seeing the city from a woman’s eye
A woman’s relationship with her body
Anything that connects woman, her body, her health and city

Cost: Free

Age: 18 and above

Gender: Any

For further details and clarifications please feel free to send in a fb message.

*Feminist Fist Bump*