Lockdown! People were just thrown to face various challenges, left with no choice literally. Lucky, humanity does exist during these challenging times. Most of them are stepping forward, in their own way, to help the poor who are hit the hardest. Essential goods, food and medicines are considered as essential commodities and are exempted during the lockdown. While, the most essential need of a women that is the sanitary products are considered as non-essential good.
Isn’t it maintaining a menstruation hygiene is equally important as food and medicine?
Well, during this lockdown, eight girls from grade 11, Delhi Public School, Bangalore North, as an extension of their ongoing school project ‘Its a Problem, Period’, joined hands with ‘Bleed in Peace’ campaign initiated by ‘Paint it Red’ a social initiative started by Ananya Chhaochharia, to distribute re-usable cloth pads to rural women in India.
“During this lockdown we cannot go out. So, we joined hands with “Paint it Red” as the initiative aligned with our interest in supporting sustainable menstruation. We are raising funds to buy sustainable menstruation kits for women and get it delivered to rural women in North Karnataka,” says Harshada RB from DPS school, who is part of the initiative.
Other girls part of the ‘Its a Problem, Period’ initiative are Krithi Balla, Anoushka Kamath, Niketha U, Maliha Fathima, Khushi Chittaragi, Adhira Kumar and Sai Shraddha.
Lockdown has not deterred these girls from not working towards their goal, the goal of educating girls and women about the benefits of sustainable menstruation and supporting the ones in need with sustainable products. They are also raising fund for the ‘bleed in peace’ campaign, so that they can buy menstruation kits and distribute to rural women in north Karnataka during these unprecedented times. They are also slated to receive menstrual kits so they can distribute it in rural Bangalore.
They conducted the first webinar on Sustainable Menstruation on April 29, and they will continue to do so till the lockdown is lifted completely.
How did it start?
‘Its a Problem, Period’, an initiative started as a project for Reap Benefit, a Non-Governmental Organisation, to solve a civic issue within the school.
“When Reap Benefit approached our school to take up a civic issue to solve within the school, we girls took up the persistent problem of disposing sanitary napkins in the school. We also spoke to the cleaners and we understood the gravity of the situation,” says Harshada.
Stocking up newspapers in toilets for proper disposal of pads, reinstating the pad incinerators and getting them installed in every floor, getting gloves to the cleaners, destigmatising menstruation as a whole, conducting various workshops and creating awareness on menstruation hygiene, environmental impact of sanitary waste, sustainable menstruation among girls, teachers, cleaning and attending staff in their school, these girls have come a long way since they took up the project 9 months ago.
“Our Principal Mrs Manju Balasubramanyam have been a great support. Our Principal funded us to buy cleaning gloves, cloth pads and menstrual cups for cleaning staff and attenders of our school,” said Harshada. “We are from 11th grade and we have girls from lower grades to signing up to our initiative so the program continues even after we leave the school,” she added.
Going ahead, they want to tie-up with NGOs and other organisations, local Cloth Pad and Incinerator manufacturers and spread awareness in rural schools.
Taking this project further, they have joined 1M1B Foundation and enrolled to the program “Future Leader”. If their project gets selected, they will present in United Nations.
What and why Sustainable Menstruation?
Have you ever thought what happens to the sanitary napkins after disposing into the garbage?
The sanitary napkins produces over 43000 tonnes of garbage in India and lacks proper disposal methods. It is still manually segregated and eventually buried in landfill. The plastic used in the sanitary pads are non- biodegradable and stays in landfills for 500-800 years. Some even contain synthetic gels that contain long chains of hydrocarbons, sulphides, etc. which on burning produce carbon di oxide and other green house gases.
One safe method of disposing the sanitary pads are using the incinerator. It is safe, hygienic, scientific & quick method of disposal of sanitary napkins. It incinerate used napkins at relatively high temperature to harmless sterile ash. However, these are not available everywhere and not put into effective use yet.
Quite harmful to the environment right! So, what are the other alternatives available?
Sustainable menstruation is a practice of using eco friendly menstrual products which produces zero wastage.
Switch to eco-friendly sanitary products such as menstrual cups, eco-friendly sanitary napkins, cloth pads, period underwear. Of all the above the most eco-friendly, pocket friendly and hassle free option is the menstrual cups. They produce zero wastage unlike tampons and napkins and very environment friendly. It is very safe to use.
Click here to watch a video on how to use the Menstrual cup
Watch this documentary on the environmental and social impact of disposable sanitary napkins and other alternatives available.
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