Interaction with adolescent girls..
Goonj has been trying to address three critical aspects of menstruation through its triple AAA approach i.e. - Accessibility, affordability and awareness. As we enter into the deep interiors of India, the reality comes out stark. Far away, from the nuances of menstrual hygiene, for village women it is their last priority.
Goonj’s My-Pads (cloth pads made out of waste cloth) act as an entry point into the lives of the women, who neither have access to any clean cloth nor the related awareness around health and hygiene issues. Through, Goonj’s award winning ‘Not Just a Piece’- NJPC we are trying to open up a dialogue among women and adolescents and get them to accept it as natural biological phenomenon in their lives. We thank everyone who has joined this campaign and is raising the needed resources for this most urgent and personal need. Here are some glimpses of our work, where we have committed the annual supply of My- Pads via resources raised through Global Giving.
West Medinipur District – This is one of the most backward districts, mostly inhabited by tribals. Poverty in this area has its own history that poses greater challenges to people. Our discussion with the local women revealed that when it comes to menses/periods people tend to shy away as this topic has never been talked about. Adolescent girls miss their school during periods to avoid the discomfort. Awful feeling surrounds most women & girls when they start menstruating. Adolescent girls aren’t able to come out of the conventional thought process as ‘Seeing is believing’ is their mantra. Ancestral taboos like not washing hair or remaining absent from school are still strictly followed. Goonj’s regular village level meetings have become an ice- breaking point where many women express themselves freely. During one of these discussions a very personal event came to light. An Aaganwadi worker (a community level health worker) shared, “When I started menstruating I got so scared that I locked myself in the toilet of my hostel until my seniors came to my rescue.” In this area, Goonj is working with around 1000 women and adolescent girls to create awareness around this ignored topic.
Tikiapara- Tikiapara is a slum area of Howrah (West Bengal). Most of the people living here are financially very weak and do manual labor for a living. Lot of women from this community are residing in the slums of nearby railway tracks where there’s hardly any water or sanitation facility. Goonj has been supplying MY Pads to this area through one of its local partner organization; Samaritan Help Mission. Some time ago a few local women turned the selling of MY Pads into a livelihood option earlier and now people are quite familiar with these pads. In this area Goonj is working with 500 girls and women and planning to conduct regular awareness sessions with them.
Khandwa- This is part of a tribal belt of Madhya Pradesh, India. We are working closely with a local partner organization called Spandan, who focus on reaching out to Korkua, a neglected tribe. Rampant malnutrition is a major ailment in this area. Living in extreme poverty this community makes ends meet through seasonal agriculture based activities and is prone to seasonal migration. Goonj plans to reach out to over 1000 people this year with a complete knowledge package around safe menstrual practices & sanitation related issues.
Interaction with women
Women filling out NJPC-A Million Voices form
A lady filling out the survey form