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The 'lazy woman' speaks, inspires and acts

Published on: 27/03/2020

Mayuri Bhattacharjee

Stories from Mayuri and reflections on her Ton Schouten Award for WASH Storytelling year.

Following the activities of Ton Schouten Awardees is special and last year's winner from India, Mayuri Bhattacharjee, is no exception. I have seldom seen someone fit such a wide array activities into a few months. From relentlessly working on her 'Dignity in Floods' campaign, participating in gender equity trainings around the world to setting up her very own podcast, 'The lazy woman speaks', she does not seem to have trouble finding things to do and stories to tell. Mayuri is currently completing Harvard Kennedy School's Executive Education programme on Leadership, Organising and Action, which is helping her build her storytelling skills through a structured curriculum.

We asked Mayuri to share some thoughts on what else is keeping her busy, how her experience of being a Ton Schouten Awardee has been so far and whether she has advice for young storytellers in the WASH sector. Read more in our interview below.

                                 Header of Mayuri`s `The Lazy Woman Speaks` podcast                                                                                              

You are involved in quite a number of activities. What inspires you and how do you feel that storytelling relates to your work in these different areas? 

I am passionate about issues related to Gender and Climate Action and try to work on those from writing about these to organising webinars. I have tried my hand at various methods of telling stories.

What inspires me? PEOPLE. Stories connect people and they help me in talking about the causes I care about. I find storytelling to be a good way to connect with people making them care because stories help us grab the concepts of environment. I do a lot of work on menstrual health education and I have felt the best way to connect with young adolescents has been to tell a story from my experiences of growing up.

Now at this time of the COVID-19 crisis we need stories of hope every day. There are many. From people organising food camps for the vulnerable to people organising blood donation camps to mitigate the shortage at blood banks. Apart from this positive communication it is necessary to combat the racism and false facts that are circulating on social media. I was so tired of hearing that TikTok was being used to circulate fake news that I decided to join TikTok and do a fun handwashing video. 

Watch Mayuri's TikTok video below
@notcovidiotmayuri

##safehandschallenge and ##coincidancechallenge

♬ Coincidance(Part 2) - Handsome Dancer

Do you feel that the award has given you new possibilities to tell WASH stories? Has it brought change to your career in any way?

Definitely! It has given me a major boost because before this I never knew that I was a storyteller. I never realised that all the communications work – writing blogs or making mobile videos from ground zero – were actually storytelling in action.

I also was invited to speak at the WASH Debate discussion forum which was scheduled for April. Unfortunately the event has been postponed due to the pandemic. However, being invited as panellist with other speakers is an honour for a young WASH professional like me. Apart from that, I was happy that I could write a blog for IRC WASH's She Makes Change campaign. This blog was well appreciated and it felt good to share my unconventional entry into the WASH sector.

The Ton Schouten Award 2020 is about to kick off. Do you have any advice for young WASH storytellers reading this interview?

Never underestimate what you have created. Think of content rather than the technology used. Go over all your old blogs, videos etc. and then write your application.

The Ton Schouten Award 2020 is now open for applications.

Read more about eligibility requirements and how to apply

 

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