Health
 India
Project #11869

60 Dignified Days for a Woman

by GOONJ
Vetted
Interacting with women...
Interacting with women...


Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh is really the heart of central India. It is a largely tribal area, home to the Korku tribal community. Goonj has been working here for many years now, together with its local partner organization Spandan. Goonj has been working closely with Spandan on the issue of menstrual hygiene and management through its Not Just a Piece of cloth (NJPC) initiative. The tribal women of Khandwa had no access to knowledge on menstrual hygiene management and have been devoid of basic amenities like a sanitary cloth or a toilet apart from facing huge taboos because of the shame and silence around the issue. On a recent visit to Khandwa a two member Goonj team met more than 50 village women during a NJPC awareness session where the women shared their stories and experiences.

In Langoti village, Shyamwati has been using Goonj MY Pads (cloth sanitary pads) for the past four years. She said, “Earlier I used the tericot cloth (synthetic cloth for cloth pad) at home. I used to wash it dry and reuse it again. When I saw women attending the Goonj awareness sessions and taking cloth pad from Goonj. I too came along. I found that it has many advantages. I became more aware on the issue of menstruation. I also worked under Cloth for Work (another Goonj initiative where people work on their own issues and get material as reward) where we undertook land bunding and also worked on digging the well in Langoti village. I got ration and clothing and I am using that material.”

Women of the Korku tribe undergo a lot of suffering during menstruation facing huge challenges around washing, drying, changing and disposing. A lady shared, “I used cloth during menstruation. When I got married, I felt shy from my in laws and so I would store the cloth at a hidden place in the roof ceiling behind a wooden plank.” Here the houses are temporary sheds which are not completely water resistant. Still the women don’t have a choice. They continue to store their menstrual cloth thus, even when it’s raining. “I had no option. Many a times I couldn’t even dry up my cloth and even used a moist cloth pad. When I came to know about MY Pad it was a big relief.” She also mentioned that reusing a moist cloth pad made her feel uncomfortable and stinky.

 The young girls our team met, expressed that earlier there was a lot of hesitation but now they had become bit comfortable on the issue and were now more aware about the disposal and hygiene aspects of using a cloth.

Ramwaati, another village resident said that earlier she washed the cloth pad in the nearby pond and dried it under a saree. This was cautiously done when there were no men around. She also shared that every time she tore a piece of  tericot cloth and used it as a pad she was scolded by her family members. She further added, “MY Pad helped me a lot, now I reuse it and dry it separately and do not put it under a cloth for drying.”

In many remote communities of India the awareness sessions done by Goonj are making women more confident in taking steps to improve their menstrual hygiene practices. The big change is that they have started talking about the subject.

Collecting Voices..
Collecting Voices..
Women listening attentively..
Women listening attentively..
Involving the men in the community...
Involving the men in the community...
Involving the whole community..
Involving the whole community..
Chuppi Todo Baithak..
Chuppi Todo Baithak..

Links:

Making of My_Pad
Making of My_Pad

So we started with the simple - addressing a woman’s need for adequate clean cloth.. 

The bigger challenge with menstruation was an all pervasive culture of shame and silence around it, marred by social, cultural and religious myths, taboos and practices. Goonj’s MY Pads, could act as a trigger to get these women to talk about this closed up issue. 

In April 2014 Goonj launched NJPC – A Million Voices campaign (www.njpc.goonj.org) asking people in the cities and villages across the world to share their thoughts, opinions and challenges around menses. We hope that when a million people talk about this issue, it will multiply into a culture of normalcy around menses.. That opening up of the issue will be the beginning of the world’s accurate understanding of the various aspects of the issue. 


Read more -  http://goonj.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/11.pdf

Washing of cotton cloth
Washing of cotton cloth
Sun-Dry of cloth
Sun-Dry of cloth
Cloth to My-Pad
Cloth to My-Pad
Menstrual Management Awareness
Menstrual Management Awareness
Learning to make cloth into My-Pad
Learning to make cloth into My-Pad

Links:

Menstrual Management session in progress!
Menstrual Management session in progress!
Imagine if this simple piece of cloth was available to the masses, many incidents of helplessness and indignity wouldn't have become the stories, people often share with us.. and that is why we call it "Not just a piece of Cloth", as for us- it is a solution which is practical, a product- which is affordable, easy to use and is environment friendly . Above all it is a tool to open up the most taboo subject, revive the traditional old practice and make a dent on the shame and silence attached to the issue- which is not a Woman issue but a Human issue !! Read more - http://goonj.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/10.pdf
Awareness sessions conducted in multiple places..
Awareness sessions conducted in multiple places..
Awareness using various mediums!
Awareness using various mediums!
Breaking the taboo among adolescent girls & women
Breaking the taboo among adolescent girls & women
Reaching out to remote locations..
Reaching out to remote locations..
Breaking shame & silence around the issue..
Breaking shame & silence around the issue..

Links:

Interaction with women - Village Gamdidgaon
Interaction with women - Village Gamdidgaon
Women from 5 villages of Uttarkashi sat down for Goonj’s NJPC awareness sharing meeting.. We noticed an interesting divide.. the group was divided half and half between younger and older women. As the discussion veered to the topic of breaking taboos, immediately the older generation women strongly opposed the discussion and raised questions. “Why are you manipulating these women on this unaddressed, not-to-be spoken issue?” Interestingly, this was met with a robust argument by the younger, middle-aged women. They didn't want the session to end. They said they were eager to listen, to share the challenges they face and the shame they experience around menstruation. They wanted a platform to speak openly about the various problems they face like menstrual health issues, rituals and the hygiene challenges.

This is a harsh reality.. Women reuse their old clothes without washing and sometimes do not have any clothes for managing the flow. They suffer a lot both physically and psychologically, turning the natural process of menstruation into a reason for so many hardships. These women were clear why they wanted the session to continue - We don’t want our children to go through what we went through.

What stood out was the determination of these women who spoke up. Once they become more aware about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, we hope that this is what will drive the change in the remote villages of Uttarkashi. The women also filled up the NJPC- A million voices form during the session.

Goonj’s NJPC awareness sessions are held across Uttarakhand and other parts of the country with village women to get them to share about their lives, menstrual practices and challenges. The sessions are aimed at making them aware of this ignored subject, apart from providing MY-Pads to them.
Interaction with women - Village Gyanja
Interaction with women - Village Gyanja
Interaction - Village Nismor
Interaction - Village Nismor
Interaction at Village Sald
Interaction at Village Sald
Village Uttro - Interaction
Village Uttro - Interaction

Links:

Interaction with adolescent girls..
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
Interaction with women
Women filling out NJPC-A Million Voices form
Women filling out NJPC-A Million Voices form
A lady filling out the survey form
A lady filling out the survey form

Links:

 

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Organization Information

GOONJ

Location: New Delhi, Delhi - India
Website: http:/​/​www.goonj.org
Project Leader:
Priyanka Tiwari
New Delhi, Delhi India

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