New Delhi: Promoting menstrual health and hygiene is an important means for the overall well-being of girls and women, and this message is being forecefully reiterated by a 17-year-old girl from Delhi, Ahaana Bharat Ram. A student of The Shri Ram School, Moulsari, Gurgaon, Ms Ram launched project ‘Garima’ on June 5, 2023, under her home-run organisation, ‘SPOT On & Off’, which works towards raising awareness about menstrual health and hygiene and promoting safe menstruation for young girls and women.
Motive Behind Establishing Home-Run Organisation, ‘Spot On & Off’
Ms Ram launched the organisation in 2020. Talking about the motivation that drove her to launch it, Ms Ram said,
I was actually researching for a project in school when I came across the shocking statistics that only 21 per cent women in India wear pads. I also learned that millions of girls drop out of school due to a lack of access to sanitary pads. This went beyond my level of understanding. I cannot think of going through my periods without a pad. It is not something I know of. So, it shocked me and made me feel for other women and how they were going through life without any menstrual hygiene solution.
The 17-year-old reached out to her mother, Radhika Bharat Ram, who has been actively involved in philanthropic work for years. She helped her establish SPOT On & Off and together, they have conducted multiple MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management) workshops and sessions in various government schools in Delhi and Gurugram on the outskirts. SPOT On & Off have reached out to women living in various areas of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar.
Project Garima is an extension of these efforts towards raising menstrual health awareness among the rural girls and women.
Under the project, Ms Ram educates girls studying in government schools and women working as daily wage labourers about menstrual health and hygiene. Additionally, she sells affordable sanitary pads to individuals and organisations involved in relief work for Rs 50 each, which they further distribute to girls and women who have no means to buy pads.
These are recycled sanitary napkins, which are made out of discarded pieces of cloth donated by individuals. They are made by the members of the Delhi Blind Relief Association, who have acquired the skills of sewing and stitching in the sewing unit of the association. The amount received is used for the production of the next set of sanitary napkins and as income for the members of the Blind Relief Association.
18-year-old Meena is one of the students who has received multi-skills course training under Project Garima in the Blind Relief Association. Talking about her experience, Ms Meena said,
Initially, when I started with the course, I thought I would never be able to learn the skills. But after completing one month, I realised the number of skills I have acquired, and that gave me confidence that I can learn further.
The joy of learning has opened doors of confidence, even for Reema, who has come here from Siwan in Bihar. Talking about her experience, Ms Reema said,
I was extremely demotivated in life and thought that I would never be able to achieve anything. But after working under Project Garima, I felt that I could also learn, earn a living, and live my life.
So far the organisation has reached out to 6,500 women, and Project Garima has covered more than 200 individuals since its recent inception. With Project Garima, Ms Ram supports UN Sustainable Goals 3 and 4 of good health and well-being and quality education. Talking about her future plans with the project, Ms Ram said,
I want ‘Garima’ to reach out to all the girls and women who have long been deprived of proper knowledge about menstruation and access to sanitary pads.
With Project Garima, Ms Ram aims to address the dual problems of education and access, which also supports the UN Sustainable Goals 3 and 4 of good health and well-being and quality education. She is not only trying to improve awareness and knowledge about menstrual hygiene practices but also working to eradicate the stigma and physical fallouts of menstruation for schoolgirls.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.