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Menstrual health

ZOON: Empowering Youth In Kashmir To Break Taboos On Mental Health And Menstruation

ZOON, a non-profit youth organisation aims to teach the values of women’s health, menstrual hygiene management and sanitation among rural girls and women

ZOON: Empowering Youth In Kashmir To Break Taboos On Mental Health And Menstruation
ZOON works at creating awareness about menstruation and mental health by uplifting important landmarks and their people

Pulwama: Andleb-i-Firdous, also known as ‘ZOON’, is a non-profit youth organisation, whose seeds were sown by Seher Mir in October 2021. Seher Mir, an 18-year-old from Pampore in Pulwama, started a campaign creating awareness about two taboo subjects, mental health and menstruation. Her resolve had a domino effect and what started out as the brainchild of a single individual grew into a team of 50 like-minded teenagers.

Currently, Seher and her team carry out awareness drives in government schools and among women in rural areas. The organization works at creating awareness about menstruation and mental health by uplifting important landmarks and their people. The organisation’s main aim is to teach the values of women’s health, menstrual hygiene management and sanitation among rural girls and women. She said,

The majority of rural women of Kashmir still use filthy cloth pieces as absorbent during periods for many reasons. One of the main reasons behind not using any sanitary products during periods is shyness. They feel ashamed of buying sanitary napkins. We started from the birthplace of an important Kashmiri personality, Habba Khatun. In her birthplace, Chandhara, we lead many menstrual health drives to provide accessible menstrual products while educating young girls on menstrual health and hygiene

Over time, Andleb-i-Firdous, commonly referred to as ZOON, has broadened its objectives and presently addresses not only mental health and menstruation but also issues like climate change, economic stability and the power of technology in its awareness drives. The drives are characterized by the distribution of sanitary pads at the end. ZOON also addresses a range of mental disorders, menstrual hygiene issues and sexual abuse through its Instagram handle @andleb_i_firdous.

Also Read: This Father-Daughter Duo From Delhi Is Working Towards Ending Period Poverty In India 

The volunteers have managed to conduct drives in remote areas such as Pattan Baramulla, Mirgund Baramulla, Chandhara Pampore, Shar Shali Pampore, Laltrag Pampore, Zantrag Pulwama, Haal Pulwama, Aripal Tral and many other backward villages of Kashmir passing their share of knowledge to over 1000+ students and distributing more than 10,000 free sanitary napkins amongst them. They have received appreciation from the authorities for their work and are speedily gaining recognition.

In Kashmir, there are very few organizations which are led by students. It’s mainly because of the societal pressure of not going in these directions and just focusing on studies. By creating this organization, ZOON is able to reach out to people and has started to do what they were aspiring to do for a very long time. The best part about it was the response they received from the students, which made the team even more motivated.

According to a study, 88 per cent of menstruating women in India use homemade alternatives like old fabric, whereas 63 million adolescent girls live without toilet facilities. Ignorance, poverty and neglect are the main reasons for inadequate menstrual hygiene. Even in modern times, conversations about topics such as mental and menstrual health are often avoided. More so, in rural areas where even the early waves of modernization are yet to arrive, this has given rise to disastrous, albeit expected, consequences. The unaware masses have strongly stigmatised issues that need to be addressed on a priority basis.

Also Read: Meet Kashmir’s ‘Padwoman’, Who Is Manufacturing Sanitary Napkins And Sensitising Rural Women About Menstrual Hygiene

ZOON is planning to take professionals such as psychologists and doctors on board so that not only are the people informed about issues but also diagnosed and cured. While implying that healthy family relations are prime for good mental health of children. ZOON has also decided to hold counseling sessions with parents so that they understand the need to open up and discuss physical and mental health with children.

ZOON in today’s times is emerging as a one-of-a-kind organisation in Kashmir because it is rare in the valley to have a platform created by an 18-year-old girl and run by like-minded children across different schools and areas of the valley.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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.

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