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6 Simple Yet Brilliant Inventions That Are Changing The Lives Of Women In India

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By Shruti Sonal

Have you ever wondered how simple life would be as a woman if you could pee standing? Or have chulhas that don’t choke you? As it turns out, innovative use of technology has made these wishes and many more possible, making life easier for women both in the rural and urban sphere. Here are 6 such examples:

waterwheel1. Water Wheel: One of the key problems faced by women in rural India is the long trek to fetch water that has both physical and socio-economic repercussions. The Water Project highlighted this problem and took up the task of providing an innovative solution to this problem. “Indian women can take up to six trips a day to gather and transport water. These walks in rural regions can average ten miles a day, carrying up to fifteen liters every trip. The women load jars or buckets on their heads to carry water. The heat increases their exhaustion, and they’re removed from being able to make an income, better care for their children, or in a younger girl’s circumstance, be able to get a proper education.”

Designed by Wello, an American social venture company to facilitate the transportation of water in a more efficient and hygienic manner. It consists of a round 50-litre container made of plastic that makes it possible to roll down water instead of physically carrying it from the water source.

smokeless chulha2. Smokeless chulhas: As per an NDTV report, over 140 million households in India still use chulhas with wood, cow dung or charcoal being used as fuel. Given it is mostly on women that the burden of cooking falls on, not only does this lead to indoor pollution that impacts women’s health but also adversely impacts the environment. Project Aanch, undertaken by Enactus, a group of students from IIT Delhi, set out to solve this issue. Although “smokeless chulhas” also work on wood and cow-dung, they emit less smoke and use 1/3rd wood an average chulha consumes.

birth kit3. JANMA Birth Kit: Lack of access to healthcare and sanitation, especially at the time of childbirth, is a bane for women in rural India. Ayzh, founded by Zubaida Bai, aims to develop affordable health technologies for women in rural India. JANMA, developed by Ayzh is a clean birth kit that contains simple tools recommended by the WHO and is worth just Rs. 100. The clean kit helps prevent infections that can occur at the time a woman gives birth thereby helping reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Not only this, Ayzh also increases income of women in rural parts of India by enabling them to be the producers and sellers of tools like sterile birth kits.

Poor, rural women in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh attending a skills training programme on dairy farming by the NGO I work for, Hand in Hand. As always, their smiles, determination and the colours are simply awe-inspiring.
Representation only.

4. Life-Saving Dot: Iodine deficiency has been one of the major issues plaguing the health of women in India, leading to cancer in some cases and complications during pregnancy. While supplementary pills are available, many women often don’t take them or have access to them. To tackle this, a joint effort by “Grey for Good“, a philanthropic corporation from Singapore and an Indian NGO called Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Centre was created. Together they created iodine patches known as the Life Saving Dot that can be worn as a bindi. Once placed on the forehead, the daily required amount of iodine (150-220 mg), which is injected into the bindi, is directly absorbed through the skin.

imshakti_app_1616465816205. Apps That Help: In this smartphone savvy world of today, many apps are working studiously to help tackle problems that women face. Among many, the ‘I’m Shakti’ (IMS) app allows one to reach their emergency contacts by pressing the power button 5 times (in 2 seconds). A preset emergency SMS is then sent along with your GPS location to the people on your emergency list. Similarly, the Nirbhaya App lets the user send an SMS alert or call with a single touch in the event of an emergency. Another unique app is one called “Susuvidha” that collects information about all public toilets located in the vicinity and presents it to users in an easy-to-use format. Till now, over 4,000 toilets from India have been registered in the app’s database and can be found by users when needed.

6. GPower: A program that is a mobile-based data collecting and analysis tool, this was launched by the Child In Need Institute in 2014. Focussed on bettering lives of adolescent girls in particular, members of the team visit localities and ask the girls questions about their education, health, family environment and general well-being, based on which they identify their levels of vulnerability. It looks at this real-time data monitoring to help tackle the issues of child labour, trafficking, malnutrition and even child marriage. As the team says, “We focus on adolescent girls because about 25 percent of India’s population falls into the age group 10-19. They will shape the future of our nation.”

Their timely intervention has proven to benefit the lives of many young girls who are vulnerable and need assistance.

While laws and legislation take care of the bigger problems that plague women, these simple inventions help make the everyday lives of women a tad bit easier. And given the way science is constantly evolving and discovering, we look forward to more such interesting inventions that bring with them #windsofchange for a more equal society where no obstacles of any kind hold women back!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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