Inclusive India is the need of the day. One of the topmost priorities is to address critical tensions, and create an overall positive impact. As Durex India, we wish to unleash the freedom to enable everyone to express and behave as per her or his true sexual self. No one can be, or shall be, left behind. Everyone can adorn their true and independent identities. This is a must for any society, and nation, to involve and absorb, not just individuals, but the various communities.
The main action to forge this agenda, and take several steps in the right direction, is to educate our youth, especially the adolescents. They need safe platforms and spaces, where they can engage in critical social, sexual, and healthy conversations. An openness and keenness to discuss issues around sexual and reproductive health has to be on the top of any vision or agenda. Only a well- thought-out strategy can enable the creation of such public and private spaces, both in our homes and out- side, where there is no shame to discuss private and sensitive issues.
Instead of push factors, the pull ones that nudge behaviours in the right direction is important. Therefore, it’s important to take the empowerment approach for not just adolescents and young adults, but teachers, caregivers, healthcare workers and, most importantly, the key populations. There is also a large population that is infected with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some of the key populations constitute communities engaged in sex work who are highly prone to HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Segments such as migrants and truckers are at huge risks.
We believe in the advocacy of a more participatory approach, where information and education can lead to positive changes, and build inclusive, healthier, and safer societies. Not just in terms of social and economic equality, but in lieu of sexual emancipation among multiple genders. Women, men and binaries have to be able to express their desires and needs. No one should be forced to participate in sexual activities without their consent. The society has to accept and embrace other genders with different and multiple identities and sexual preferences.
Reckitt as a founder member to the Condom Alliance launched India’s first Condomology report in 2021. This report is a way to contribute to make India a sexually healthy and progressive nation. In 2021, Reckitt scaled up its outreach on adolescent sexual reproductive health through The Durex Birds and the Bees Talk campaign across Northeast India to reach over 4 million school children and youth. The program is a one of its kind initiative where the model has been put together along with parents prior to approaching the kids based on culturally adaptive behaviour change modelling and insights on themes like Inclusion, Awareness, Consent, Protection and Equity. The curriculum enables key sections, like teachers, parents, and school administrations, to take the necessary steps. It is very heartening to see deeper engagement of respective State Governments and cultural bands from Northeast India.
The challenge now is to ensure that these messages reach the hundreds of millions of youth in both urban and rural areas. This is both an opportunity and challenge. Several stakeholders, including industry leaders, need to be involved in the process. Think tanks and media houses like Network18, NDTV, Outlook India, India TV and many others can play a catalyst role to reach millions of youths to take the right steps. There is a pivotal role which can be played by OTT platforms like Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix etc to ensure that the messages reach the right audience.
There is a huge role which needs to be played by the Youth in India. This includes the young influencers and youth organisations to create a much-needed impact. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. This is true not just for Spiderman, but for every youngster, who has the ability to encourage others to change their sexual practices. Condom can easily be juxtaposed as a smart and cool choice. Like you walk out with your car key and wallet, you cannot leave your home without the condoms.
With a focus on UN Sustainable Development Goal Agenda 2030 of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ this year’s World Aids Day theme of “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice” is critical to ensure that we reach the people who have been left behind. Ensuring that there is no disparity and disregard for those individuals who are already suffering with HIV is something that we need to be conscious about. At Reckitt India we are committed to confront inequalities and ensure access to products and services needed to address HIV/AIDS.