Addressing a gathering of celebrities and world leaders is nothing new for city-based student Pravin Nikam, who has been the recipient of the National Youth Award in 2016 and was also nominated as a global youth ambassador by the United Nations.
The 24-year-old law student runs Roshni, an organisation which works towards abolishing taboos pertaining to menstruation. In yet another remarkable achievement, Nikam was invited to speak at the prestigious Global Citizen Festival (GCF) in Mumbai that took place last weekend. Nikam shared the stage with Nigerian Environment Minister Amina Mohammed and appealed to world leaders to work towards menstrual hygiene and abolishing taxes on sanitary products.
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“I was told that some of the main themes of the event were sanitation, hygiene and women’s rights. Since our work resonates with that idea, they invited me to speak at the event. Before my actual speech, volunteers of GCF visited Pune to make a documentary on us. They visited our projects, at Kashiwadi slums in Timber market, the traffic signals near Pune station and Congress Bhavan, where we work with the families living on the foothpath,” said the second year student of DES Navalmal Firodia Law College.
About his experiences, Nikam said he also used the platform to raise awareness about ‘tampon tax’ which, he is hopeful, will be abolished someday. In his speech, the youngster appealed to world leaders to understand that menstruation is a “clean and natural biological process”, stating, “You will be appalled to know that many countries charge a tax of up to 25 percent on sanitary pads and tampons, famously known as the tampon tax. Something isn’t right here. I urge them (world leaders) not to tax sanitary products.” Exhorting men to break their silence on menstruation, Nikam appealed to them not to be “indifferent and ignorant”. “For this taboo to end, men need to talk about menstruation as well,” he said.