Menstruation is a taboo. Period.
The recent debates on Sabrimala and menstruating women entering temple has seen endless debates and the #Readytowait vs #Righttopray campaign by Times Now saw huge response pouring in.
For people who back the #ReadytoWait campaign, implies they also support old, “traditional” practices like Sati (#readytodie), child marriage and dowry to some extent. It is unfortunate, in spite of our society being progressive, women still have to face these patriarchal rules in name of tradition and culture.
Naari, the Women Wellness Initiative was started as a thought to create an impact and change in life of women who did not have access to right knowledge and means regarding Menstruation
In our journey of spreading awareness, a few months ago, we thought of celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) with girls who did not have access and means to safe and hygienic periods.
It was decided we would host the event, but we didn’t know anything about how it is done, what it takes from our end in terms of finances, manpower and connections. We had nothing but a desire to bring a change in society and to make an impact. We were headed in this direction and dared to go to the starting point.
Through our connections, we got a chance to visit a state home, observe the conditions there and spoke to a few girls about how comfortable they were during menstruation – how did they manage it? As we started delving deeper, we realized they surely needed help and guidance about the importance of hygiene and nutrition during menstruation. They certainly needed reinforcement of fact that menstruation is a natural process and they don’t need to be ashamed of it.
So the work started. We met respective officials, got the consent and required permissions to work with girls for a day. But what was next? We were still not clear about how we would arrange for the required finances, what will the event flow look like, and distributing kits was a far off thing.
Many people gave multiple suggestions and one was to crowdfund. We were on a mission! We registered ourselves on a crowdfunding platform and started a campaign – #PeriodPride. To my pleasant surprise, people started backing our campaign and our known connections and acquaintances started to contribute. Within the first 15 days we were able to raise around 50 thousand. It was certainly a moment of pride for all of us.
But as they say, an entrepreneur’s journey is never easy, and neither was mine. Due to some unavoidable reasons and incidents, we had no option but to put the event on hold only to be conducted at a later date. Of course, we couldn’t have complimented the World Menstrual Hygiene Day theme with our work, but sometimes, we have to think beyond these tags and it is important to work and make an impact than not doing anything at all. This was reinforced by Shilpi.
Shilpi is my co-founder, and most importantly my mentor and coach, a strong support. She always brought me back to the track whenever she saw me drifting, helping correct mistakes and was there everytime I needed her inputs. She helped me give shape to my dreams. What a blessing it is to have a mentor like her along the journey.
So #PeriodPride was the new tag for us with a new date, new team and new plan. We collaborated with FWB (FTAPCCI Women in Business) group. The President, Ms. Suman was happy to lend a helping hand and a platform to us. Hence the journey had begun. We invited our Chief Guest, Ms. Vanitha Datla for the cause. Having met her in different forums, we knew she would truly be an inspiration for girls for she emerged as a strong and powerful leader amidst staunch patriarchal set up. This surely boosted our confidence and we started working aggressively towards making the event a success. We managed sponsorships from few businessmen for refreshments and some components of kits and photography.
A few days before the event, we started a blogging contest on social media with the help of a well-known blogger, Corinne Rodrigues. To our pleasant surprise, people were participating in it and the best moments were when we saw participation from men in the contest too. They were writing for Naari Wellness, tweeting and retweeting for Naari Wellness and helping spread awareness. Such a boost in our energies and confidence!
Next was kit assembling: it was not an easy task at all and required lot of physical work. I gathered my friends and neighbours to come to my aid. They have always wanted to help me in my work and now they could contribute from the comfort of their home. They were a great help in assembling kits and my father-in-law, my husband and children helped in arranging them and transporting them to the venue. I just loved the community it formed.
D-Day arrived and with arrangements done, everything was looking in place but just then we got another surprise. The doctor who was to conduct the awareness session couldn’t come as she had an emergency at the hospital. As they say, the show must go on, so I put on my educator hat and filled her place.
What a rewarding day it was and we had so many fun-filled and joyous moments. Ms. Vanitha’s inspiring message, Paramjeet’s funny childhood incidents, Deepa’s indulging story telling sessions, Shanti and Jayanti’s chit chat all trying to give the message to girls to end shame associated with periods. Women are the chosen ones with ability to bring forward the human race. “We Breathe and We Bleed” was the new found slogan. All the team members – Suman, Supriya, Preeti, Vishakha and Leena were like strong pillars who made the day flow seamlessly. What a great team we were despite all odds and what an experience it was!
It felt as if everyone took Pride in Periods – our mission was accomplished!
Naari is a Not–for–Profit Organization, founded by Anju Arora. Owing to deep rooted menstrual traditions and practices in society, women often have to face discrimination at various levels in family, society and at work place. Hence, we endeavour to provide safe and hygienic periods to women from all walks of life and enable them to manage menstruation through sustainable and eco-friendly means.
If you want to associate with Naari Wellness in Individual or Organizational capacity, please write to [email protected]