Part 1

The Story of Finding Solutions.

When we started the foundation’s activities in 2020, our only intention was to share the knowledge we had about sustainable menstrual practices, but once the work picked up momentum, Maanushi took its own form and spread its roots as a collective with multiple initiatives to empower and uplift our community.

The beginning

Until coming back to my hometown and COVID changing our lives forever, sanitary pads and the waste they are, were never a problem for me. Roll it in a paper and throw it away- that all I knew as a solution to the menstrual waste that I was generating. But I was forced to open my eyes when the panchayat refused to collect sanitary pad waste as they did not have means to segregate the waste except manually, and I was left with no other option but to burn them or bury them- either a hazard of its own. This is when Pooja (Co-Founder) reminded me of Eco Femme and almost forced me to change to resuable cloth pads as a solution to this issue we were facing, and from the success of this solution came the pilot project of Maanushi Foundation- Menstrual Health Management programme for adolescents to bring awareness about sustainable period products. 

I underwent the training to be an MHM facilitator and started taking sessions with the support of Anganwadi teachers and Asha workers (women who work with the health department to facilitate health care interventions in rural communities). From the beginning, we have always prioritised on creating lasting impacts with proper follow-ups. All our sessions are 2.5 hours long and delve in depth about puberty and the changes it brings, menstrual cycle, hygiene measures, overall health, and the importance of making an informed choice regarding period products. These sessions would have a maximum of 40 participants and are always followed up after 3-6 months. To share the impact of these sessions, I would like to quote Rekha, the mother of a young girl who attended one of the first sessions in 2020. 

She has not only stopped using the disposable plastic pads, but has also made it a point to minimise plastic consumption in our house by always insisting on carrying cloth bags and recycling the unavoidable plastics that enter our home.” 

As of today, we have conducted 9 sessions for 483 adolescents, 13 sessions for 765 rural women, and 13 awareness sessions with over 2000 participants. A total of 2992 reusable cloth pads have been distributed as part of this project, reducing about 104720 (one lakh four thousand seven hundred and twenty) kilograms of sanitary waste from polluting the earth. (An average menstruators generates about 140kg of plastic waste in their lifetime.)

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