New Delhi: “While growing up, I always felt the lack of awareness about menstruation in our society. Neither our parents talked to us openly about the issue, nor the school we studied in provided us full knowledge on issues like what if my periods are delayed, how should we dispose off the sanitary napkins, so on and so forth. There was always a gap and I wanted to bridge this gap by creating awareness about menstruation”, says 25-year-old Deane de Menezes, a research analyst with a leading MNC and a founder at Red Is The New Green, while speaking to NDTV.
In a bid to bring in a change and not let others face the problems she faced while growing up, Deane started ‘Red Is The New Green’ in June 2016 with two goals; first, to create awareness about menstruation, second, to combat menstrual waste and motivate people to follow the same suit.
We think that everyone is well aware of menstruation, at least in urban areas, and the problem prevails in rural areas only, but that is not the truth. The fact is majority of women in India lack information on menstruation. In urban slums, it is a taboo topic and women and girls refrain from talking about it. At ‘Red Is The New Green’, our first goal is to bust all the myths and taboos associated with something as natural as menstruation, says Sephra Abraham, operations head, Red Is The New Green, while speaking to NDTV.
To achieve their first and foremost goal, the team visits different schools, colleges, villages, bastis in Mumbai, Thane and Andhra Pradesh. The team conducts awareness sessions in which, from how to use a sanitary napkin to its disposal, they discuss various aspects of menstruation and holistically clear all the myths. To provide an expert guidance, the team has a gynecologist on board as well.
We talk about menstrual sanitation, maintaining proper hygiene during periods, shatter age old myths such as a girl cannot visit temple or enter kitchen while she is menstruating. We clear all the doubts with facts and leave no room for doubt, tells Sephra.
As of today, the team has reached out to 20,000 women and girls, distributed 50,000 sanitary napkins for free and installed 15 sanitary napkin pad dispensers in different schools and colleges in Mumbai.
As far as combating menstrual waste is concerned, Sephra says,
Menstrual waste worth 150 kgs is generated every year by a menstruating woman. We cannot segregate this waste into dry waste or wet waste as it is a hazardous waste. It just ends up in landfill. This means that first sanitary pad ever used in the history still exists on this planet. Also, when ragpickers segregate waste, they open up it, all they see is dry blood which is nothing, but toxic. Plastic sanitary napkins are a threat to both us and our environment. So, the need of the hour is to switch to eco-friendly menstrual products.
While educating women and girls about safe sanitation and menstrual hygiene, the team also discusses eco-friendly menstrual products with woman and girls who can afford it and suggests a couple of them to choose from. Apart from this, the organisation has installed 10 sanitary napkin incinerators at different schools and colleges to turn sanitary waste into ashes and ease the burden from landfills.
There are a variety of organisations offering eco-friendly sanitary napkins which are made of cotton like ecofemme. The life cycle of these sanitary napkins is up to two years. Even if they end up in landfill, they will biodegrade completely because they are made of cotton. One can also adopt menstrual cups. It is just a one-time investment and they are absolutely safe to use, explains Sephra.
Red Is The New Green Celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day
Every year Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on May 28. To give boost to menstrual hygiene, Red Is The New Green started World Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations two days before by participating in different events and collaborating with other organistaions. While on May 26, Saturday, in the morning, the team attended a session on “Beerable Periods” organised by Mission Sanscar to discuss sustainable menstruation and in the evening the team participated in a football tournament – ‘Mahila Mahotsav: Kick The Taboo’ organised only for girls by ‘A period of sharing’, on May 27, Sunday, the team conducted first ever ‘menstrusession’ at Jogger’s Park, Mumbai. At menstrusession, people from different walks of life came together and exchanged period stories, experiences and tried to break taboos.