“An Achievement for BHAMINI”
“Every time we find a girl complaining about her menstrual health and white discharge, we would try to figure out the reason behind it. We would either take our Community health workers help or take the girl to the hospital. One of the reasons behind such conditions were the usage of dirty clothes during menstrual cycles and non-usage of undergarments. For one whole year, we tried taking seminars to help them understand the kind of problems they might enter into by not using sanitary napkins. A few would listen, a few would ignore, but the results were still bad. In 2018-19 we decided to distribute sanitary napkins for free along with our health seminars at three of our slums (approx. 62 women), based on their monthly requirements. We kept a watch as to who used the napkins and who did not. Since it was free, almost everyone started using them. This year on 28th May, ie. Menstrual Hygiene day, we took a small survey for these women through a questionnaire. We asked them questions about their vaginal health condition and if they were ready to pay for sanitary napkins from now on. We were all filled with joy to see the results. Each of those women (62 in number), said that they were ready to pay up to Rs.30/- per sanitary napkin if they had to. And they told us how their vaginal health has improved and how they can never switch back to clothes during their monthly cycles.
“It was a victory for us, though we had to wait for one whole year yet the joy that we hold now is unexplainable. We have changed the perspectives of these women about their women-hood and the blessing of going through menstrual cycles. I really appreciate my team for their persistent efforts to see things transform in the lives of these women. And on the 28th of May, we have achieved one such victory.
To substitute pads instead of rag clothes presented a pointless picture to the women. A seemingly reasonable logic had caught into the tittle-tattle of the gully women. “Anyway, whether a rag or a ‘Sanitary pad’ - as they call it, have to be discarded, and so why to waste money on something that has to be discarded! Clothes have worked so far, and guess clothes will do in the future as well.” This pattern of thinking is common among underprivileged people. So then, we had to break it. Only a practical outworking can help. After a year, I am not surprised that they understood what confidence a small initiative can bring. A battle won at a time !