Written by Tamanna Aktar
On the occasion of World’s Menstrual Hygiene Management Day, Sanjh Jagori, an NGO, organised a ‘Menstrual and adolescent health awareness programme (MAHA) at Government Senior Secondary School, Manimajra. The event was named, #MyMahaChandigarh.
“We live in a society where period is still a taboo and there exist many stereotypes for boys too like them being hesitant in talking about their bodies and biological changes taking place with age. Our NGO tries spreading awareness (about topics like menstruation and sex, which are a taboo in our society). Let these things be an open secret,” said Iqbal Judge, coordinator of Sanjh Jagori.
Judge, who retired as Head of Department of English, Government College for Girls, Sector 11, is heading the Chandigarh branch of this NGO, whose head office is at Jagori, Dharamshala (HP). “I’ve been working on gender equality since 8 years and over the years, the more people I interacted with, the more I felt that there were several issues that needed to be addressed. Teenagers are carrying a lot of pressure due to the physical, emotional and mental changes taking place in their bodies. All we want is to give them a platform to discuss those sensitive issues with us,” Judge said.
Guneeta Chadha, head of Department of Fine Arts at Government College for Girls, Sector 11, presented an art installation of a money plant with red-painted sanitary napkins. The green colour depicted fertility, while the red duppata with five plastic flowers represented the 5 days of menstruation each month. She says, “I want to present art that connects with society.”
The event was attended by students of class 10 and 12. Speaking to Newsline, Rukhsar, Chavi and Sezal, students of Class 12, rued that people continue to propagate stereotypes about menstruation. “We are told not to touch tulsi plant or speak to boys during our menstrual cycle each month. We are also asked to stay away from temples. We tell our elders that these are only myths and that periods are natural. However, every time they reply saying, “Tumhe kuch nahi pata hain (you don’t know anything)”. I don’t think we can change their mentality.”
When boys were asked about menstruation, they said they get all their knowledge about this from their friends. “Our families don’t bother to tell us such things,” one of the boys said. The main purpose of Sanjh Jagori is to spread awareness regarding sex education. They started with eight schools and have now extended their drive to 10. Schools on the periphery are their main preference.