These girls are tackling period stigma in India
Six young entrepreneurs are on a mission to transform the health of women in their community, one reusable sanitary towel at a time.
In India, many girls miss up to 50 days of school or work due to period poverty and stigma. In some communities, taboos and secrecy means that often girls have never heard of menstruation before their first period, and will grow up without the knowledge of how to manage their period hygienically. Although it has been estimated that less than 16% of women across India are using sanitary products, in rural communities, this number is even lower.
Thanks to Teach A Man To Fish's young entrepreneurs, this is set to change.
TIME TO TAKE ACTION
For girls attending GGUPS Sallada School in Rajasthan, many of them had resorted to using dirty scraps of cloth to manage the bleeding during their period. All of them had experienced being called “unclean” during their menstruation as well. They decided to take action.
"It was high time our community took responsibility for ensuring good health and hygiene of women.”
Using the materials provided by Teach A Man To Fish’s flagship awards programme, the School Enterprise Challenge, the girls learnt how to plan, set up, and launch their own reusable sanitary business called “Menstruation My Right”. In their first year, they produced and sold over 500 reusable pads to women across their community.
TACKLING PERIOD STIGMA
The students also led a campaign in their village to reduce period stigma and educate women about the science behind menstruation.
"We started this business not only to produce something but to break the mind-set of people regarding menstrual hygiene. As a girl we have used dirty clothes during the menstruation cycle and we strongly feel the problem and emotion while applying it.”
They ran 10 focus groups to gain feedback on their sanitary towels, and individually visited over 100 houses to talk to women about how they managed their period. One customer, Lata Kanwar, says that the reusable sanitary towel has transformed how she manages her period:
"I have been using dirty clothes for 45 years and this product is really easy to use and I feel comfortable with it. I never imagined that menstruation would be the pride for us but we will now celebrate it forever"