This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Charkha features. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Busting One Menstrual Myth At A Time In Rajasthan Villages

More from Charkha features

A total of 12 Gram Panchayats of Talera block in the Bundi district of Rajasthan collectively represent the Barad region, which shares its border with the Chittorgarh and Bhilwara districts in far south-west direction. Otherwise a barren and rocky mining region, Barad is inhabited by people from different States of the country who migrate to work in the mines here.

This region has great economic and historic relevance. The downside of this remote district is the unsafe and orthodox environment for women — cases of rape, stalking, child marriages and atrocities against women have been reported in the recent past. The status of education of girls is also not quite strong in this district.

In a situation where adolescent girls and women are treated as mere subordinates of men and are denied equal rights, a local organisation called Shiva Shiksha Samiti (SSS) is running a project called FAYA, Feminist Adolescent Youth Action, that aims at imparting knowledge about sexual and reproductive health issues to young people.

Working in collaboration with the Population Foundation of India, SSS is running the project in 50 villages of the 12 Gram Panchayats of the Barad region. The main objective of the programme is to ensure that young girls and boys become well-aware of their sexual and reproductive health rights, and have easy access to related information. So far, over 3,000 teenage girls and boys have been educated as part of this project. These young and empowered minds are playing a key role in challenging the status quo.

mother holding her child, sanitary pads
In a situation where adolescent girls and women are treated as mere subordinates of men and are denied equal rights, a local organisation called Shiva Shiksha Samiti (SSS) is running a project called FAYA, Feminist Adolescent Youth Action, that aims at imparting knowledge about sexual and reproductive health issues to young people.

The term ‘menstrual periods’ makes people uncomfortable. Women, men and adolescent boys and girls feel equally embarrassed when questions around this topic are raised. In metropolitan cities, things have started transforming due to increased awareness (still a long way to go), but regions like Barad are a decade or two behind when it comes to acceptance of menstrual periods as a normal biological process.

Since no one wants to talk about it, there are several misconceptions around periods as people have no idea what they are dealing with. Women are faced with many challenges and restrictions — they are not allowed to enter kitchen, visit any pious place, touch drinking water and sleep in the same room as men or other family members. In many villages, people believe that women should not dry the cloth used as absorbent in front of men, as looking at it will make them blind.

Because of such unbelievable level of superstitions and unawareness in these villages, the issue of menstrual periods is treated as a taboo, and no woman or man feels comfortable talking about it. This has led to severe complications — many adolescent girls and women suffer from serious health issues like fungal infections, urinary tract infections, leucorrhea etc. In a tribal region such as Barad, the situation is worse. This project, however, promises a better future.

“This project aims at operationalising four modules to provide comprehensive information on sexual and reproductive health to adolescent girls and boys. The first module, which comprises of knowledge about body, bodily changes, menstruation during puberty, has just been wrapped up,” shared Aradhana Singh, Project Coordinator of FAYA.

During the initial days of the project, girls would bow down their heads and not participate in any discussion related to their reproductive or sexual health. They come from quite conservative environments where no one in their families talked about such issues ever. Through this project, not just their inhibitions were addressed, but many misconceptions around the topic were also resolved. Menstrual blood isn’t impure and menstruation is not an illness that one should feel ashamed of. Creative educative tools like flipbooks were employed to make it a fun learning process for participants.

This project has been changing the narratives around menstrual health slowly and successfully. Girls, who were earlier hesitant to talk about menstrual periods, are discussing it openly not just among themselves, but in their respective villages by creating awareness. They now know the importance of using a safe and hygienic absorbent material and are opting for sanitary pads instead of using unhygienic cloth material, ashes and woolen fabric.

These girls now do not hesitate to ask Anganwadi workers for the free sanitary pads provided by the Rajasthan government.  Not just this, they have started going to the Ujala Centre run by the National Adolescent Health Programme to get advice from the counsellors there. These young girls and boys now realise the importance of a safe and healthy sexual and reproductive health, and are taking every responsibility to work towards a better and healthier life.

Note: This article has been written by ​​rural writer Suresh Kumar Bheel from Rajasthan for Charkha features. 

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

You must be to comment.

More from Charkha features

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below