An attempt to change the society

An attempt to change the societyAn attempt to change the society

Instagram in association with Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) brought its flagship youth program,...

Instagram in association with Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC) brought its flagship youth program, 'Counter Speech Fellowship' to Hyderabad. Coming to the capital of Telangana for the first time, the fellowship is a part of Instagram's efforts to be the safest and kindest platform for teens to express themselves, says, Tara Bedi, Public Policy and Community Outreach Manager, Instagram, India. She is in Hyderabad, along with Aparajita Bharti, Co-Founder, YLAC India.

The fellowship was launched in 2017 and expanded to New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. And 180 teens have graduated from the fellowship till now and 30 teenagers from the city are shortlisted for Hyderabad. It includes five sessions, for six hours each on alternate Sundaysand will on on till September.

Criteria for selection

The selection procedure begins with an online application form which basically asks them about what motivated them for this fellowship. It asks them about their previous leadership experiences in school and also asks them to submit a poster on any of the fellowship themes which include bullying, body positivity, mental wellbeing, gender equality and sustainability.

They can also mention any other work that they may have done. It could be students rights, poetry, some kids are song makers. They submit the creative work they have done related to these themes. On the basis of these online applications students are shortlisted for a group interview, Tara Bedi, shares, "We have got more than 120 applications and 60 students were shortlisted for interview out of which 35 students were selected as fellows.

What is the action plan for Hyderabad?

Over the next two months, these kids will be meeting bunch of influencers and content makers, and they will actually get trained on how to create content, that really can change the mind set. They meet a lot of people working in this field. During sessions they meet people, who are creating content that can change the mindset of the people.

For example they met the founder of Firefly community, a group of medical students who are using poetry which talk about gender, mental health etc. They meet even activists like Gurmehar Kaur and politicians who have spoken about some of these things in the past .

In 2017 you launched this fellowship program but it took these many years to come to Hyderabad?

We started from two cities in Delhi and Mumbai just as a pilot, just to see if it is effective programme because we were doing it for the first time and after that we have also kind of been tracking the response has been coming from other cities.

We have been getting requests from Hyderabad when we decided that may be now is the time to bring it here. We see many Instagram communities, and a lot of Insta meets happening. We thought this the good time to come here and take the programme forward.

Takeaway from fellowship?

The young fellows actually create messaging that is impactful and is more accessible 'to young people of their age.' And they send a lot of support to each other. At my time, whenever we went to a counsellor or a teacher, we weren't able to open up to them to tell them things and also they weren't really listening to us. This is something, which really helps us to create a peer to peer support, it helps create awareness around various issues.

Women friendly Instagram

There are safety tools and features that we have on our Instagram to help protect children. We also partnered this year with BarkhaDutt for an event called 'We the Women' with Facebook as presenting sponsor.

We partnered with her to make sure we are working strongly to make sure that the women's voices are being heard,and understand some of the issues. Basically it's a discussion forum for women to talk about various things. So, we have also partnered with people like her.

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