While India is one of the strongest economies in the world, it is still burdened by stereotypes and taboos. One of which is menstruation. While menstruation is a natural biological process and about half of India’s population goes through it every month–we still don’t talk about it.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-2016, only 36% of Indian women use sanitary pads while they are menstruating. Which means 74% of women in our country have no access to menstrual products or they consciously chose not to use sanitary pads because of the stigma attached to it.
The reality is even more horrifying than the numbers. Even today, in the 21st century, women use cloth and straw, amongst other things, during their period. The reason? Lack of awareness, high cost, and stigmas.
But, these brave ladies stood up to bring a change in this mindset which suggests that menstruation is a dirty thing. In fact, today they provide hygienic tools to menstruating women across India.
Come meet them as we celebrate their grit, this Women’s Day:
1. Diipa Khosla
A lifestyle influencer, Diipa partnered with UNICEF India to raise much-needed awareness on menstrual hygiene. She visited Kolkata along with her four fellow influencers, to break the taboos related to menstruation and started the Red Dot Challenge.
Through the challenge she asked her followers to post their pictures with a red dot on their palms–in a bid to start a conversation on periods. The #RedDotChallenge was about creating a positive mindset about periods and good hygiene–which makes Diipa a true warrior in our books for using her influence for all the right reasons.
Suman was featured in the documentary Period. End Of Sentence which won the Oscars for the best documentary short subject in 2019. She along with other women from her village Hapur made sanitary pads for themselves.
In that very process, she not only empowered herself and others–but also fought the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation. Even today, most villages in India do not have access to sanitary pads, which leads to health risks.
“We have received success on a topic on which we can’t even talk about in public. Periods, which are looked down upon in the society, we have been able to work towards raising awareness about it. Our aim is to make people accept cleanliness during periods.” said Suman after winning the Oscar.
3. Manushi Chillar
“Let’s not only educate but also provide a sustainable model for good menstrual management,” says Manushi. As a part of her Beauty With A Purpose endeavour for the Miss World pageant, she started Project Shakti to propagate the idea of menstrual hygiene and educate rural men and women about it.
With the Miss World crown, she took Project Shakti to a big scale and joined hands with multiple sanitary pad manufacturers to supply sanitary pads in rural villages. After her endeavours, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar also announced that the government will provide free sanitary pads in government schools.
4. Anupriya Kapur
A victim of postpartum depression, Anupriya co-founded Imbuenatural, an Ayurvedic intimate hygiene brand. The aim was to create awareness about intimate hygiene in women.
The brand provides chemical-free products which are friendly for the vagina. And through this she wanted to create awareness and provide a natural alternative to otherwise chemical-laden intimate products.
5. Irfana Zargar
Her unique initiative has grabbed eyeballs for all the right reasons! Irfana started an initiative called Eva Safety which aims to provide free sanitary pads along with medicines and hand sanitisers to women in public toilets in Srinagar.
Apart from providing these products, she also wants to ensure that people are aware of menstrual hygiene which is a health issue.
She spends about half of her salary to help women in the city who are unaware of the perils of bad menstrual hygiene. Now that’s truly commendable!
6. Aditi Gupta
Aditi was 12 when she got her first period and she was asked to keep it a secret from her brother and father. This stigma around periods stayed with her for a long time.
As a result, Aditi co-founded Menstrupedia–a comic guide on menstruation in 2012 with the sole purpose of spreading awareness about periods and putting a stop to the hushed tones we use to talk about it.
Today, Menstrupedia Comics are available in seven different languages, in 30 schools across India. In short, she is educating young minds for a better future!
Have we missed out on a menstrual warrior? Do let us know in the comments below.