A Spotlight On New Coalition Steering Committee Member Ipsa Agnani

A SPOTLIGHT ON SCTG COALITION STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBER IPSA AGNANI

The Coalition Steering Committee advises the Secretariat and provides oversight of SCTG coalition functions, ensuring a strong value proposition for members that is supportive of the SCTG’s strategic priorities. New Steering Committee member Ipsa Agnani (she/her), a young feminist and development practitioner from India, answers questions about her expertise and passion for self-care below!

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am 25 years old and have often grappled with anxiety, particularly in the last 6 years. While I was privileged to have the right knowledge and access to professional help in managing my anxiety, I have also relied on self-care when those resources have not been easily available to me (especially during the COVID-19 lockdown). Understanding my mental health needs and diligently expanding my self-care toolkit over the years has proved to be a highly effective strategy to manage my anxiety, and is a big reason behind my passion for self-care.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO JOIN THE SCTG COALITION STEERING COMMITTEE?

Self-care, when promoted and managed effectively, can be a powerful strategy to advance young people’s wellbeing. However, just as with any other public health issue, many barriers prevent young people’s access to and equitable participation in self-care. I joined the SCTG CSC to represent young people’s perspectives and advocate for their needs, so that the efforts of the SCTG can lead to more meaningful youth engagement on this topic.

WHAT DOES SELF-CARE MEAN TO YOU? AND WHY IS IT INTEGRAL TO ACHIEVING UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE?

To me, self-care is about one’s participation in their own overall wellbeing. It begins with understanding your various physical, emotional, psychological needs so that you may be able to adequately address them through your lifestyle as much as possible. Universal health coverage cannot be achieved without the recognition that people’s health needs, levels of information, agency to make healthy choices, and access to health services, which depend heavily on their identity and environment. Amidst these varying contexts, self-care can prove to be a vital tool in mitigating challenges around access to resources or unsupportive environments. Well-managed self care can enhance people’s autonomy and promote healthier habits within communities. 

IN LIGHT OF THE NEW VISION, MISSION AND STRATEGY FOR SCTG, HOW DO YOU SEE THE COALITION AND THE SELF-CARE MOVEMENT EVOLVING IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

I trust that the self-care movement will benefit from the SCTG’s work on evidence generation, which can strengthen advocacy efforts for increasing awareness on self-care while developing systems that support it. There have been active efforts to diversify the coalition in terms of the interest groups, geographies, and disciplines it represents. This is indeed a critical component of achieving health equity, which, in my opinion, is the essence of the self-care movement. I hope that the coalition will continue to represent and advocate for diverse groups of people and deploy innovative advocacy  strategies from the multidisciplinary lens it adopts.

GIVEN YOUR WORK AS AN ADVOCATE, WHAT ROLE CAN YOUR SECTOR PLAY IN EXPANDING THE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE PRACTICE OF SELF-CARE?

In my work, I have been associated with feminist movements and communities of human-centered design practitioners, both of which can help advance self-care practice through discourse on values. Feminist perspectives can help us critically assess our imagination of self-care, particularly through questions like “how accessible is this practice,” “how can this practice promote justice and equity,” “who participates in the design of self-care, and in what capacity,” “what kinds of structural resources does this involve,” etc. Design-thinking can then help us to produce context-specific definitions of self-care and promote interdisciplinary action by identifying the most important actors across different settings. 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOURSELF?

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I taught myself how to crochet. It has since become my favourite hobby and self-care practice.

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