Local content creators mainstream sexual health conversations

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANSlife) A virtual youth festival is doing its part to free minds and start conversations about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) among under-represented young people in an eventful month when the country will celebrate International Youth Day (August 12), Adivasi Day (August 9), and Independence Day (August 15). This unique online cultural festival is reaching out to youth through a variety of virtual meet-ups, dance and music, skill training modules, youth forums, seminars, influencer engagements, and offline activities, all under the direction of the youth-led initiative “Baatein Unlocked” (BU).

It’s intriguing how the festival has enlisted content producers and pop culture figures to promote SRHR even in remote and tribal places.

For instance, Baatein Unlocked recently hosted a series of Idea Jams that brought together dancers, singers, poets, and actors to create content for SRHR in partnership with Adivasi Originals, a platform that showcases tribal music, language, music, attire, and cinema, and Nagpuri Tribal Hub, a platform that amplifies Nagpuri and other regional dancers and singers. Talented young performers from different regions of India, such as Jharkhand and Odisha, also gave virtual performances in front of more than 300 spectators.

“It was quite an unusual experience to present contemporary as well as folk-dance forms like Domkach, Jhumair, and Lahasua before a virtual audience of young people and to also share information that can potentially empower them and encourage them to speak their minds about subjects that are considered taboo. This is why the theme of this session was ‘Learn dance steps and let’s unlock conversations’,” says B Boy R Wind, part of All Style Dance Crew from Ranchi and part of Nagpuri Tribal Hub.

Another dancer from the group, Ani Shelina says, “It was my aspiration to dance, but I wasn’t allowed to dance due to family pressures. I recently started my journey with dance again, if you’re true to yourself, you can take decisions. You can take a stand and be vocal about education, independence, career, and choices.”

A unique aspect of this outreach initiative by ‘Baatein Unlocked’ is the relatability of the content creators. These are a strong part of the youth community, often representing similar demographics, lifestyles, problems, challenges, identities, and aspirations, making them extremely relatable to the average teenager.

Dhruv Arora a representative of ‘Baatein Unlocked’ added, “The festival is an attempt to meet youth where they are physically and metaphorically. By being technologically accessible, linguistically relatable, and with the help of pop culture influencers and local content creators, we are now talking to youth who have never engaged with SRHR before. Through these networks, conversations about contraceptive use, relationships, consent, gender, sexuality, and identity have now reached over 2,30,000 young people. We are now hoping to unlock even more spaces where the young can express themselves without fear of judgment.”

Additionally, more than ten micro-influencers will be invited to speak to the crowd. There will also be a variety of offline activities offered, such as educational puppet shows and wall art classes.

(IANSlife can be contacted at ianslife@ians.in)




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