Project Baala: Creating Awareness About Menstrual Hygiene In Rural India

Posted by Soumya Dabriwal in Menstruation
February 6, 2017

Project Baala is a  menstrual hygiene initiative in rural India, creating impact through awareness workshops and distribution of reusable sanitary pads.  

In India, 88% menstruating women  do not use any sanitary products during their period and use alternatives such as pieces of rag, ash, sand and husk. This results in a drop of 31% in productivity levels of working women and almost one in every four  adolescent girls in the country, quits school due to the lack of any sanitary facilities (Nielsen Corporation, 2015).

I have just graduated in economics from the University of Warwick but have lived in Delhi, India for my whole life. The above are not mere statistics for me but growing up in India, I have witnessed these problems first hand whilst volunteering and working in urban and rural slums. It is appalling that something that is taken for granted by most of us affects the education and income of nearly half of India’s female population.

In addition to proving as a barrier to higher income and education levels, poor menstrual hygiene rooted in years of unawareness, misinformation and taboos substantially increases the risk of reproductive tract infection among these women. Additionally, although sanitary waste disposal is a global problem it is more distinct in India due to poor solid municipal waste management. An estimated 150 kg of sanitary waste is generated by a single woman in her menstruating years and with 12% of women in a population of 1.25 billion using sanitary pads, India is facing a serious problem of non-biodegradable waste.

With this in mind, I created Project Baala to provide a two-fold solution to menstrual problems in India:

  1. Generating awareness about menstrual health and hygiene via workshops in rural areas.
  2. Distribution of 3 reusable sanitary pads for women which can be used up to a year and a half.

This allows  eliminating the recurring costs of buying sanitary pads and the use of unsafe alternatives whilst simultaneously improving the menstrual health practices employed by the women. It also allows  minimizing the cost on the environment and reject the myths and taboos associated with menstruation. I started this project with generous support from the University of Warwick, with 6,000 pads having been distributed since the summer of 2016.  

Project Baala is now a social enterprise that seeks to eliminate this trade-off between food, education and sanitary products that prevails in India. Project Baala is a project of the youth, by the youth and for the youth.