Seminar on Menstruation Management in the Contemporary Context
Whilst FGAE were visiting Jatan, a seminar was hosted by Jatan and Vikalpdesign for all the participants to attend as well as local people. This was part of an ongoing initiative lead by Jatan and Vikalpdesign called Sukarshit Mahwari Abhiyan or “Safe Menstruation Campaign”. This is a movement that gives girls and women dignity and pride during the special days. Communities, young people and students participate in training programmes and workshops on Menstrual Hygiene. The Campaign is at Rajsamand and Udaipur District of Southern Rajasthan.
The fabric pad initiative UGER – is a part of this campaign. “UGER” in Mewari language means “new beginnings”. The project started in 2011 consisting of a small group of six women from low income families. These women were trained in stitching and they now work to create a reusable cloth sanitary napkins. These pads are made with the intention of combating the growing use of disposable products in India, and the lack of an effective waste management system that our country faces.
A Brief Background
Taboos, misconceptions, blind beliefs, negative attitudes surround the subject of menstruation in India. While it concerns both man and woman, it has traditionally been viewed as a woman’s domain. Never discussed, seen as “private“, the matter only comes into quiet focus in the context of child bearing.
Menstruation for a woman, has usually been about being compromised. In the rural context, this is very evident. This “time” has always been seen as “dirty”. The attitude takes on many strong negative forms that eventually affects a woman’s image, self esteem, health, well being and her position within society. In many areas of Rajasthan, even today, women separate themselves from the rest of the household at this time. Rags, old cloth, bags filled with ash and sand – are methods to manage the period. Some women wear nothing at all, bleeding in to their skirts. Because blood is seen negatively, anything is used to wipe off the flow. The products are often unhygienic leading to reproductive health infections.
With all this in the background – Vikalpdesign a Design Studio based in Southern Rajasthan and Jatan Sansthan, began working in the area of menstruation since 2001. Recently ten years on in 2011, together they started the Safe Menstruation Campaign or Sukarshit Mahawari Abhiyan in an intensive campaign mode, with strong research components. The research components are closely monitored by Lakshmi Murthy, the founder of Vikalpdesign, who is also currently doing her Ph.D in menstruation management.
Specific Objectives for the Seminar:
To hold a one-day seminar on menstrual health management (MHM), with local and national speakers touching on topics such and safe menstrual management, menstruation & disposal, reusable pads, breaking the silence and raising awareness. We will discuss the history of menstrual health, the taboos surrounding menstruation and how UGER (our environmentally friendly, reusable sanitary pad) was born. This event poses a unique opportunity to collectively disseminate the current issues surrounding menstrual health.
Programme and Activities:
– Explain and discuss the current issues surrounding menstrual health.
– Talking on the different ways to manage your menstrual health
– Introducing our environmentally friendly reusable sanitary pad, UGER.
– Meeting the women from the centre
– Strategizing how we can collectively undertake future campaigns on safe menstrual management
Expected Outcome and Deliverables:
– To raise awareness on safe menstrual health management
– To break the silence surrounding menstrual health
– To inform the wider public about using environmentally friendly, reusable sanitary pads
– To better understand the issues surrounding disability and menstruation
– To collectively discuss how we can become agents of change in the movement towards safe menstrual health