Taboos and Myths surrounding menstruation (e.g. restrictions on entering the kitchen or temple, preparing certain foods, touching other people) make it difficult for Girls and Women to See menstruation as a natural phenomenon and talk about it. The negative impact of poor MHM is immense.
Following are some of the facts mentioned by Dasra in their report, ‘Spot on! Improving Menstrual Health and Hygiene in India’, which highlights exactly the problems that we are trying to work towards.
- 70% of mothers consider menstruation 'dirty', perpetuating a culture of shame and ignorance
- 8% of menstruating women in India use home-grown alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shavings, newspapers, dried leaves, hay, and plastic
- 63 million adolescent girls live in homes without toilet facilities
- Girls are typically absent for 20% of the school year due to menstruation, which is the second major reason, after household work, for girls to miss school
- 70% increase in incidence of reproductive tract infections owing to poor menstrual hygiene
What we do in sessions
Founded in 2013, the Red Spot is an inclusive initiative that empowers adolescent girls through activity based workshops on understanding and revaluing menstruation as a clean and natural biological process. Our goal is to strengthen young minds to be critical towards popular social stigma against women during their menstruation- prompting discussions about self-worth issues, to provide inputs for informed decision making while choosing Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) products and to break the silence against menstruation.
- Preparing pre teens for menstruation
- Educating young girls and women about menstruation, flow management and related practices
- Helping young men to understand menstruation and be empathetic and supportive of menstruating women
Workshop Structure- The strength of our workshops is the interactive way in which we disseminate information. Through art, games, puppet shows and storytelling, we discuss and bust myths related to menstrual hygiene practices, while creating a safe space for the participants to freely share, discuss and ask questions about menstruation. During our workshops we work together with participants to make sure they understand the basic anatomy of menstruation, we discuss how society’s beliefs of menstruation affects the way women view themselves, and we provide information on menstrual flow management options available in general, and in the participants’ local market, to help them take informed decisions when choosing their products. In our sessions with males, we stick to a shorter time period, with the entire focus on building an understanding about menstruation and creating empathy in them for menstruating women.
Pad Distribution- We have partnered with EcoFemme, a Pondicherry based cloth pad making organization, which donates reusable cloth pads for sessions conducted with underprivileged adolescent beneficiaries. At the end of the session, we offer our beneficiaries an option to receive a pack of 4 EcoFemme pads, after educating them on the use and maintenance of the pads.
What we do outside sessions
Community based games for MHM- Our core belief is that female empowerment cannot be done by working in isolation with young girls, but requires awareness to be raised in the communities they live in and in the general public. Following the experiential and interactive learning techniques we implement in all our programs, we disseminate information about menstruation, and debunk commonly shared myths, through games. Our MHM games target both men and women of all ages, and are set up in public spaces, during fairs or community events.
Social Media Campaign – Aiming to reach a broader audience, in 2014 we initiated an ongoing social media campaign called ‘The Red Spot.’ By posting photographs of adolescents and adults posing with hand-written messages that encourage a change in society’s perception of menstruation, we aim to end the stigma against women during their periods, and normalize the image, of what is essentially a natural process. You can check our album out here.