- Sanitary Pad Banks to be set up in Bihar
- Contribution of Rs. 1 per girl
- Vocalizing menstrual hygiene concerns
THD NewsDesk, Bihar: With only one rupee per day as a generous contribution, an enterprise is encouraging adolescent daughters in Nawada district of Bihar to vocalize their menstrual inadequacies and install a ‘sanitary pads bank.’
This Bihar based initiative collects Rs 1 per day from each girl. The collected amount is utilized to purchase sanitary pads for them, and other girls cannot afford it. The girls decided to come together collectively to help and assist each other, witnessing the adverse financial circumstances that impair them from purchasing mere sanitary pads.
Aligning with the theme of the day, on the International Day of Girl Child, October 11, the girls declared that their inspiration is derived from “Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon,” a trans-media edutainment initiative launched by the Population Foundation of India. “Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon” initiative addresses women-centric concerns such as family planning, early marriage, unplanned or early pregnancies, domestic violence, and adolescent reproductive and sexual health.
Youth Leader Anu Kumari from Amawa village said: “To help someone who doesn’t have money, we deposit one rupee every day. That means each girl raises Rs 30 in a month. We buy the sanitary pads and distribute it among poor girls, who cannot afford to buy them, to protect their menstrual health.”
Dr. Srinath Prashad, Ex-Civil Surgeon-Nawada shared his perspective: “The girls were earlier unable to speak up for themselves. They were unaware of the physical changes happening in their bodies. They didn’t know about sanitary pads, but today they have started a bank of sanitary pads. You can imagine the extent of influence the show has had on these girls to said, “I can achieve anything confidently.”
These girls also facilitate discussions about crucial but the so taboo’ ed themes such as contraceptive alternatives. As Mausam Kumari, a 17-year-old Youth Leader from Hardiya, said: “Now we talk about family planning too. We visit villages and explain these subjects to women. We tell them about options like Antara injection, Chhaya, Copper T, and condoms.”
The girls also united in demanding youth-friendly health clinics to be set up in existing public health centers. “Authorities hold a public dialogue twice a year, and we expressed our wish of having a youth-friendly health clinic so that we can discuss our issues and talk without any fear. Our request was fulfilled, and now all the girls in the village go there and use services available in the clinic,” added Mausam.
Gradually but definitely, attitudinal shifts can also be observed amongst the men of the community. Bhola Rajvanshi, Ex-Mukhiya from Hardiya, added: “I feel our society has changed. Now, there is no difference between girls and boys.”
On the theme, community member Sangeeta Devi observed, “In the past, we used to suffer silently during menstruation. Our daughters told us about napkins. We felt encouraged. I feel all these changes were possible only because of that show.”
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, said: “I am glad that the show is impacting their lives. That precisely is our goal. Through the inspiring character of Dr. Sneha Mathur, the protagonist of the series, we have initiated difficult but important conversations about sex selection, violence, gender discrimination, safe sanitation, family planning, spacing, child marriage, mental health, drug abuse, nutrition, and adolescent health. That these young girls in Bihar have created a bank for sanitary pads and have also succeeded in ensuring the setting up of adolescent-friendly health clinics is a matter of great pride for Population Foundation of India.”
The show’s creator noted film and theatre director Feroz Abbas Khan says: “When I wrote the concept for the show seven years ago, I could have never imagined the kind of impact we have seen over these years. I wanted to make a high quality show that was effectively communicating important social issues without being preachy. It makes me so happy that ‘Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon’ has become an empowering slogan for young, adolescent girls who are now spearheading the change on the ground.”
‘Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon’ revolves around the inspiring journey of Dr. Sneha Mathur, a young doctor, who leaves behind her lucrative career in Mumbai and decides to work in her village. The show focuses on Dr. Sneha’s crusade to ensure quality healthcare for all. Under her leadership, village women find their voices through collective action.
The rhythm and beats of the composition “Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai, Aage Badh Raha Hai” is echoing through Indian skies and oceans. After seventy years of Independence and more than 200 years of women’s oppression, India finally has started to vocalize concerns that have threatened women’s identities for years together. Most definitely, India has evolved as a more progressive nation. However, themes exclusive to women, such as menstruation, maternity, reproductive and sexual health, and rights of women are still passed around covered in newspapers, jet-black polythene bags, and “whispers.”
The noise has begun and must not stop.