It was a first for me when girls were paraded around almost in a walk of shame, simply because of a stain.
It was a first for me when we were applauded about talking in whispers about Stayfree and Whisper.
As I stood performing my piece on menstruation at a spoken word event, I realised how lucky I was to have to have led a life which had allowed me to have been educated about menstruation from a young age, and have an emotional as well as financial capability to experience menstruation safely.
However, the majority of women in India had been and still are subjected to a stigma which came attached to something as natural as periods. This coupled with a lack of awareness and low income, especially in rural and semi-rural households pushed a majority of young girls and women into the practice of unsanitary menstrual practices. In spite of everything I’d been fortunate enough to have, period shaming was something I’d also experienced first-hand, and this is where Eco Femme came into my life.
It had just been a few days of my role as an Ambassador from Pune for Eco Femme, and I was at a crossroad. While shifting from the usual pads to cloth pads had been an easy transition for me, I knew that getting the idea of sustainability across to women who were using disposables to get through periods every month wasn’t an easy task. Moreover, my initial goal was to do my best to end the stigma around periods, and pave a way towards a society where we recognized that menstruation is something inherently natural. The basic idea behind this was entwining employment among women, to stitch the cloth pads and the core idea of saving ourselves and the environment from the micro plastics and chemicals pumped indiscriminately into the usual sanitary napkins and even tampons.
Along my fellow Ambassador from Pune, Ananya, we connected with over 500 medical students and doctors over our cause. During this process, we came across a lot of scenarios – people who yawned their way through our talks, who laughed and some who simply didn’t care enough.
“However, what I learned through it all was there will always be someone who actually cares as much as you do, there will be someone who makes that switch and that will keep you going.”
It doesn’t really matter what the sphere of influence is, even if we ourselves take the responsibility of switching to cloth pads and doing our best to educate the women around us, I can only imagine the force we’ll be.
It’s a long way to changing the statistics in our country where 70% of mothers consider period blood dirty, 77% of young girls observe special restrictions when it comes to worship and food during periods and 24% report missing school during their cycle. But every step counts.
“For every disposable sanitary napkin not entering the environment, we are reducing the damage.”
For every girl or woman we educate about periods, we are forging the way to a better future for not only her, but the generations who’ll follow her. Periods are something which surpasses culture, religion and gender, something which should be empowering for women. So don’t stop trying to bringing a change, in fact be the change. Because,
Yes, I bleed with pride every month, because when I think of periods,
I don’t think of banned entry into temples, I think of the divine Maa Kali and the magnificent colour of her lolling tongue.
Yes, I bleed with pride every month.
Tanvi Singh – Ambassador from Pune