A project that highlights the need to create awareness about menstrual hygiene has motivated students from the Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies (SCMS) to visit the slums of Pune and help local women shed the taboos around menstruation and educate others.
Under project ‘Udaan’, the students are teaming up with Spherule Foundation, which works in the field of menstrual health and hygiene. The students of SCMS have already visited slums near Pune airport, Chandanagar, Kharadi and Yeravada, and conducted awareness campaigns there.
Dr Geeta Bora, founder and director of Spherule Foundation, says the silence and shame around menstruation came at a heavy cost. Bora, who was recently recognised as one of the ‘Pad Heroes’ working to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene, told The Indian Express, “In India alone, 23 million girls drop out of schools annually due to lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities.” To help them out, the Foundation had started its own initiative, BleedwithPride, and launched Stri, a brand of low-cost sanitary napkins.
“In India, only 18 per cent of the 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins. The remaining 82 per cent women can’t afford these napkins and use newspapers, leaves and rags. Such unhygienic practices can often lead to urinary tract infections and other health complications,” said Bora.
For the distribution of their sanitary napkins, priced at Rs 20, the Foundation doesn’t use the traditional supply-chain. Instead, said Bora, they use a ‘social-chain’ by selecting certain women and training them. These women not only sell these napkins and earn money, they also spread awareness about menstrual hygiene in their communities. This model also brings down the product price by 70 per cent, as there are no middlemen in between, said Bora.
The Foundation organises workshops and seminars at schools, colleges, orphanages and slums across the country. “Our income-generation-model is receiving a good response. The Symbiosis Centre of Management Studies also took an interest in this model. Now, through project Udaan, the students are engaging with us and implementing this income generation model in the slums of Pune,” said Bora.
“The students taught women how they can sell the product and earn money, as well as create awareness for fellow women. Through awareness sessions, these students train women representatives in each area, so that they themselves can teach, educate and empower other women, and answer their day-to-day questions on menstrual cycles and problems,” said Bora.