Shalu is not afraid of her period anymore
**When Shalu got her period, no one including her mother spoke to her about it. She didn't know how to manage her bleeding.**Through a friend, she learned that she had to use a cloth to absorb the blood. Not knowing how to get a cloth, she ended up using pillow covers and bed sheets. This angered her mother and she got beaten up for wasting money.
She came to know of sanitary pads through a classmate. When she asked her for a few, she was snubbed saying they were expensive and could not be given away for free.
Shalu started falling sick with the fear of getting her period. With no access to sanitary products, she resorted to praying to God to stop her periods forever. Her period, which is a normal bodily function, became an unbearable trauma for Shalu.
It was during this time that Goonj came in with the 'Not Just A Piece of Cloth' initiative to her school. She got her 'My Pad' kit which came with 10 reusable pads, one undergarment and a menstrual hygiene awareness brochure. This kit changed her life and gave her the freedom to live like a normal adolescent child. She doesn't dread her period anymore and knows how to manage it.
Women in India's rural areas are struggling for the basic needs of life. A sanitary napkin is the last thing on the minds of most.
This simple piece of cloth saves many women from incidents of helplessness and indignity, which is why it is called 'Not just a piece of Cloth'. It is a solution which is practical, easy to use, and is environment-friendly.
Your monthly donation will help more girls and women like Shalu get access to My Pad kits. You can give with confidence because every program on our platform is GIVEASSURED. Give now and help women grow out of the culture of shame.
By donating to this program
you will be sponsoring the overall costs incurred to support the beneficiaries
What the beneficiary gets
Poor women, especially in rural areas, struggle to get a clean piece of cloth to manage their period every month. There is a lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene. Living in a culture of shame and silence, they end up using poor substitutes like rags and ash, or worse they use NOTHING.
This aggravates their day to day misery around this basic need. Goonj through its 'Not Just a Piece of Cloth' initiative has distributed more than 4 million cloth pads across India and organized thousands of awareness meetings among the most backward communities all across the country.
Goonj makes the urban masses aware of this basic need and motivates urban communities to contribute their cotton cloth. This cloth is sorted at their processing centers.
The un-wearable cloth is sorted out from the cotton and semi cotton cloth for making MY Pads. These are washed, sun-dried, cut, ironed, wrapped, and made into a pack. These packs also contain a leaflet with instructions, an undergarment, and a pouch for keeping used cloth pads.
When you donate to this program, you help women and girls in underprivileged communities get access to reusable cloth pads to manage their periods.
28 November, 2021
Activities and work undertaken in the last 5-6 months
The ongoing pandemic brought everything to an abrupt halt and disrupted normalcy worldwide. The impact of the crisis differs and is deepened for women across different geographies, socio-economic backgrounds with limited resources and opportunities. For the majority of those women who are already battling poverty, access to basic menstrual products, safe sanitation space, access to water, sanitation and are from marginalized communities their realities are doubly compromised as they manoeuvre menstrual challenges amid global pandemic. Thousands of menstruators were left with no choices as they could neither afford menstrual products nor any health care or medicines for menstrual pain. Unavailability of sanitary pads, cloth pads, or even a clean cloth was one of the major issues reported by menstruators. In rural areas, prevalent stigmas/taboos have further exacerbated their menstrual challenges while in isolation with limited resources and scope of mobility. Under such a grim situation, till June Goonj channelized more than 7,30,000 pieces of cloth pads and reached out to the most marginalized women in the remotest villages of India and some of the biggest disasters through the Triple-A approach (Awareness, Access & Affordability).
Challenges faced and next steps
Under Goonj’s Triple-A approach (Awareness, Access & Affordability), Goonj holds hundreds of Break the Silence Meetings (Chuppi Todo Baithaks) with women in urban and rural India, Goonj teams across India listen to women talk about challenges, myths, the culture of shame and silence, taboos, health risks etc. Also used as a medium to spread information on the importance of menstrual and personal hygiene. However, due to the prevailing pandemic and the social distancing, conducting such meetings became a challenge. Nonetheless, Goonj utilized every opportunity to brief about Menstrual Health & Hygiene to women in need & building a narrative by highlighting the Dignity of women and other missed out issues in the larger menstrual health ecosystem.As the Covid 19 situation improves, Goonj will work towards mobilizing and motivating women to take action against their Menstruation Related Problems. Since Goonj does not believe that Charity/aid can sustain in the long run as charity takes away a person’s dignity, and no development is possible without dignity. With this principle, women who receive the material packs, are asked to first identify and solve any of their own menstrual or other problems, with their efforts, local resources and wisdom. The material kits are then reached as a reward for their efforts. As solutions are discussed & actions are taken, it results in the making of hundreds of nutritional gardens, private spaces, cleaned up their water bodies, etc, empowering rural communities.
Stories from the ground
Even a small change can go a long way. To spread awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene, our team decided to visit Pandua village in the Puri district of Odisha. During the visit, we found out that most of the women there barely had any information about menstrual issues. They use cloth but maintenance of hygiene is usually overlooked. Also, our team observed that there were no bathrooms in the village and women had to bathe and change in the open. Our team initiated conversations with the community regarding these issues and suggested ideas to deal with them. Following this, the locals, under Goonj’s (NJPC) initiative, decided to build a proper changing room, specifically for the women. With no prior knowledge of how to build a bathroom-like structure, the room that the women had built earlier was revamped to provide them safety as well as comfort and was rebuilt using bamboo and soil.35-year-old Ranjeeta Maharana, a resident, said, “Because many people bathe in the pond, the women were always uncomfortable while changing and longed for a little privacy. Goonj’s idea of making a changing room will benefit all of us tremendously. I don’t want anything else from Goonj. This is more than enough. I believe that their thought process and our ability to work hard will create a new kind of unity and partnership. We are using the room as an SHG meeting place as well. This way the changing room has given us a double benefit.”Innumerable women still resort to unhygienic ways of menstrual protection. To make it worse, there is inadequate access to toilet facilities and clean water. Menstruation is such a taboo that women are even ashamed to seek medical advice or freely discuss it with their daughters. This further impacts their health and well-being. Thus, making the women here aware of the issue was just a little step, but a major leap towards better menstrual hygiene.
23 March, 2021
A POSITIVE STEP TOWARDS BETTER HEALTH
In a society which usually treats issues surrounding menstruation as a stigma and a taboo, the outlook of people of Rajasthan‘s Kharadi Phala village towards this subject is a testament to the positive change which is slowly, but steadily engulfing the country.
Situated approximately 70 km from Udaipur, Kharadi Phala houses around 290 families. It was here that Team Goonj, under its Not Just a Piece of Cloth (NJPC) initiative, conducted a meeting primarily to raise awareness and foster education on the subject of menstruation and women's health. To effectively conduct the meeting, informative banners and posters were put in place, which surprisingly, attracted an unusual crowd. As a refreshing surprise, 10 men spent a lot of time reading the posters and also participated in the NJPC session. The attendees, comprising 10 men and 60 women, gave a patient hearing to the insights and information furnished by Team Goonj. When Team Goonj wished to speak with the women attendees about their menstrual problems, the men folk quietly excused themselves from the session for the last 10 minutes, conscious of the fact that their presence could be a possible hindrance to an open discussion. Such was the positive outlook of the men that they wanted, women and men alike, to be educated about menstrual hygiene. They were even supportive of women expressing their discomfort or problems faced due to menstruation. Stressing on the importance of the NJPC session, some men expressed saying, “Activities such as these are very important for women. If they are quiet and won’t speak up about the difficulties and discomfort they face, how can we understand their difficulties?”
The outlook of these positive-thinking, open-minded gentlemen of Kharadi Phala village, hopefully, will soon be shared by many others, shunning the unnecessary and unwarranted taboos and stigmas surrounding this subject.
5 August, 2020
Putting cloth into perspective: Understanding deeper connect between women, clean cloth and dignity.
Putting cloth into perspective: Understanding deeper connect between women, clean cloth and dignity.
4 months in a year the women of Kandhamal district in Odisha work in paddy fields, while the rest of the year they seek out a living by making utensils out of Sal Tree leaves. Speaking with these women about their menstruation, during a Chuppi Todo Baithak (Break the Silence Meeting), we found that among the many menstrual taboos they face, the most hurting is being barred from working in the fields during their period. Talking about their health, lack of a nutritious diet emerged as a big challenge..With help from our team, they planted various local vegetables and fruit seeds. In just a few weeks time, they will have fresh vegetables to make their own food, ensuring better nutrition and some extra left to sell for extra income.
No one could blame 17-year-old Reshma, for her reluctance in taking a bath at the local dug well in her village. In the name of public convenience, it was made in the middle of the village, where it was constantly surrounded by people. On her period days, it became much tougher for here and other women to bathe out in the open. It's no wonder that most preferred to skip the bath altogether. This we found when Reshma spoke out at a Goonj Chuppi Todo Baithak( Break the Silence meeting) at Sulumuha village in Daringabadi in Odisha.When the Goonj team encouraged these women to evolve a solution, they unanimously decided to make a covered bathing space around their local dug well. Collecting local bamboo, leaves and ropes to create the structure, over 20 women worked together and created a basic but usable structure in just 1 day
Chandana from the Prajaghari village of Jharkhali in Sundarbans, was the sole earner of her family of three. Everyday she risked her life to catch fish in the nearby creek. Struggling for basics, she used anything from mud to leaves during her periods. She first participated in a mangrove plantation project with Goonj in her village. That’s when she received her first pad as a reward for her efforts, as Goonj’s My Pad. When our teams spoke to her about menstrual health and hygiene, she realized the importance and connect it has with her health.
19 November, 2019
Hygiene kits and informative sessions being provided
Hygiene kits and informative sessions being provided
9 April, 2019
Millions of women in India and in many other parts of the world still struggle for basic clothes to cover their body. For them this struggle becomes bigger as they also struggle for a basic piece of cloth for their menstruation every month in an environment of strong silence and shame around this issue. In such a scerio they end up using rags, ash, newspapers, jute bags, used pads, sand in dire compulsion or worse they using NOTHING. This all pervasive taboo around this basic need is present in the cities and villages of India which prevents women from even voicing their menstrual challenges.
Goonj has been working on this issue for the past decade, focused on evolving a comprehensive solution around what we call the three A’s (Awareness, Access and Affordability), with a larger focus on creating a space for women to talk about their menstrual challenges and treat it as a normal. That is why our work around this issue is not just about providing pads or a product, but to trigger a mass scale dialogue in the society and make it a normal issue.
The clean cloth ‘MY Pads’ we make from surplus cotton cloth from the cities act as a talking point with women in villages and slums about related health and hygiene issues and breaking the silence and shame around it by creating a safe space for women to share their challenges and restrictions and make it normal.
In the last 3 years, we have reached out with over 19, 27,000 cloth My-pads and over 95,000 under garments to women creating awareness on menstrual hygiene and breaking the silence on the subject.
Story from the field
Goonj’s Break the Silence Meetings ‘Chuppi Todo Baithak’ with women across rural India are insightful about their menstrual awareness and health issues.
One such story is from Ambapada village of Banswara district in Rajasthan. Rough roads connecting to the nearest market are 10 kms away for any woman who wants to buy a sanitary cloth/pad. The land here is fertile but the farmers have to depend on rain for farming. Life overall is tough as many people survive as daily wages laborers struggling on a day to day basis.
Like many other villages of India there is little awareness among men and women about menstrual health and hygiene, in a culture of shame and silence and taboos. When Goonj’s team reached this area and started a dialogue with the women of the area about this basic, there were hardly any women or adolescent girl who spoke up in our Break the Silence Meeting.
On a specific question to the 14 year-old Kanchan about her menstrual practices, the conversation started as she spoke up. With some hesitation Kanchan shared how she had no idea what menstruation was when she first menstruated. She shared that she was very scared but her mother just gave her a piece of saree and never explained the reason for menstruation.
Kanchan shared that she uses whatever cloth is available to her at home; blouse piece to trouser etc for this purpose. She also shared the many taboos and don’ts she faces during those five days like not being allowed to enter the kitchen or not allowed to touch anybody, forbidden from going to temple. Even going to school is not allowed during menstruation.
All these restrictions make her very angry but her mother has only one response “This is how women are supposed to live their lives.
When Goonj team started implementing menstrual hygiene related awareness in Kanchan’s village under our Not Just A Piece Of Cloth (NJPC) initiative, she and other adolescent girls and women of her village learnt about many critical things about menstruation like hygiene practices around using cloth pad and disposal of used sanitary cloth etc. The Break the silence meetings with the girls and women of the community provide a much needed space, where they can talk openly, discuss and unlearn the culture of shame and their menstrual challenges.