New Delhi: Mothers are selfless beings who always put their family first whether they are children, household chores, family and often they tend to forget about themselves when they are running around the house, hustling between their own work at times. Their self care really takes a backseat. Prashant Sinha, COO and Co-Founder of Momspresso, a platform for mothers, by mothers and of mothers, talks to Banega Swasth India team about how his platform is empowering women in rural and urban India.
How is Momspresso empowering mothers? And how did it all begin?
One of the most important topic of self care for the women in this country are expression. Being able to express themselves in the language of the choice and format of the choice. Momspresso is a platform with 75,000 of these women come and create content in form of blog, videos and short stories, and there 25 million women who are coming and consuming this content. What is so powerful about momspresso is the content is, while the name sounds very English, 85 per cent of the content is consumed in regional languages. Therefore we are in 10 languages and all the content is created by users from all over the country about what they feel and especially motherhood. In the journey of motherhood, we also see that women are quite lonely and therefore they don’t know if they can speak to their husbands or in-laws or their own mother. But they see a whole tribe of women on momspresso who they can talk to resonate with and that’s the platform is all about – empowering women with expression.
What are the kind of issues most talked about on the platform – mental health, physical health and emotionally ?
There are three parts for the answer to this question. The first part is physical health because obviously these women are feeling fatigue, tired. There are postpartum issues – especially the postpartum depression which is nt just prevalent in cities but everywhere and we have a lot of content on that. There is anxiety, body shaming and lastly financial insecurity. So women are facing issues at all three levels – mental physical as well as emotional.
What are some of the rising health issues that can be detected well in time so that there is no serious consequences which could be dealt with self care?
Though we are not expert in the field, given that we have 2000 doctors on the platform who come and give their opinions. The first area is based on a research we did about 2 years ago on self care and the finding was that even in metro cities, 75 per cent of the women knew that there could be issues around breast cancer but only 25% go and take the test. This whole issue is for women to go and take the test.
The second issue is women always keep themselves at the end of their personal health in terms of nutritional deficiency. And these, from pre part to postpartum, it is always there but they don’t go and check it out.
The third is mental health – like postpartum etc which have to addressed by us because people don’t come and talk about it.
Could you take us through your journey of promoting self care in both rural and urban areas?
We have a beautiful partnership with Reckitt and they came back with the initiative – Reach Aach Child. The idea was to reach women with simple content in regional languages. If you look at from the perspectives internet or digital age, like there are about 50 million women on the Facebook every day, so coming and finding content on women’s issue in their language are very few. So what we are doing with Reckitt is we are creating very simple blogs, infographics, lives with experts and articles to help these women understand issues around mental health, hygiene and also taking care of the newborns.
How do you target rural women considering the huge digital divide?
We were the only ones to understand that if you want to crack the audience in their 2, their 3 and rural areas you have to be language first. So we launched Momspresso Hindi in 2017 and we were very clear that we don’t want to translate a single piece of content, we want to originally create. Therefore, women from that segment came in and started creating content. And what we realised was that we can’t tell everyone to create textual content so we encouraged them to create very short 100 word stories or they could create short format video content. The idea is to move to audio going forwards for those who don’t have that much data bandwidth.
During the lockdown, when everyone was home, what was the impact on women’s work-life balance?
Our research indicates that in that period, women were doing three shifts at the time – the first shift was managing the home, the second was managing their children’s online classes and the third shift was managing their work. The biggest thing came out was that the stress quotient was very high. They were worried about how to keep the kids active in the initial period and reducing their screen time. And given that int he initial period, when restaurants were closed, women were looking for new recipes. So all of these were the initial phase. But during the last phases of the lockdowns, women were more worried about getting kids away from screen time, get them ready to go back to schools, now that they were used to working from home and work is calling them back to office, so how do they manage this and.
What kind of content are women consuming in terms of health and nutrition?
There has been a huge surge of content – it started with building immunity, post the delta wave, it shifted towards how to remain healthy and yoga classes. And now, we are seeing about how to get kids away from screen time.
How can we break the taboo around menstruation? How can companies go extra mile to help women during menstruation?
Despite the awareness around menstruation, the stigma continues as you go down and read regional languages, it is clearly there. I think the biggest service that everyone can do, is normalising the conversation. We need to involve husbands, fathers, brothers in dialogues. Also the older women need to participate in normalising this as well.
How does Momspresso propagate messages on health, hygiene and nutrition through reach each child programme?
We are targeting gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra through regional languages. The fourth key area we are looking at is first 1000 days of a child’s life. That is very important, as that is the time mothers need the most help. The second is mental health. The third is helping kids with nutrition.
What is the way forward for Momspresso?
We have an engine going of women creating content and women consuming content. So we want to personalise the content going forward. Secondly, now we want to add 4 more languages to move from 10 to 14 languages in total. Ad third, we want to move towards audio format.
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 – the LGBTQ 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 current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) 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, fight malnutrition, 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 like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.