No More Missed Classes At This School In Pune Because Of Periods!

Period Paath logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC, to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management among menstruating persons in India. Join the conversation to take action and demand change! The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
Picture courtesy: Magic Bus

Time-and-again, Project Disha, which is funded by HDFC Parivartan and implemented by Magic Bus India Foundation, has shown the value of dialoguing with adolescents and involving them in decisions that concern them the most. The success in Karde is an indicator of how multiple stakeholders can get together to keep adolescent girls from dropping out or being irregular at school.

Bhairavnath High School in Karde, Pune, installed a sanitary napkin vending machine so that girls do not stop coming to school during their menstrual cycles. The school has 358 girl students and 14 women staff members. It was the girls who raised this issue with our resource person and shared that the inconvenience of finding sanitary napkins would deter them from coming to school.

The Magic Bus resource person took the help of teachers and sought solutions from the students. The students said that a vending machine in school would address their difficulties.

Magic Bus presented students’ suggestions to the school authorities and also to the Gram Panchayat. The Sarpanch fully supported the idea, and did some research to find out the cost of installing such a machine. The machine was installed in 2019 to the relief of the students.

The vending machine came with pre-loaded pads, which was provided by the Gram Panchayat. The cost of each pad is ₹5 which is cheaper than pads available in the market.

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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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