On World Menstrual Hygiene Day, Meeting my #GirlHero

 by
Advocacy , Health , Leadership

By Aditi Arora, Girl Up In-Country Consultant, India

Soumya was just 19 when she conceptualized ‘Project Baala.’ Baalameans a young girl and the project is for girls, and by girls. While in college, Soumya volunteered extensively in Ghana, South Africa, and in Haryana, India but found one common thread in all three: girls were skipping school while on their periods.  This meant that a girl could lose up to 60 days, or 2 whole months, of classroom time in a year; time that could be used to master a subject, or learn a new skill or sport.

This was the turning point in Soumya’s life and she knew she had to do something. She learned that 88% of the women in India did not use sanitary napkins and resorted to unhygienic ways of managing their periods including the use of ash, husks and old rags that lead to reproductive tract infections or urinary tract infections in many cases. Of the 12% of women in India who do use commercial sanitary napkins, these napkins produced 9000 tonnes of sanitary waste per year. To put it in perspective, that’s roughly the weight of the Washington Monument! After months of research and hard work, Soumya developed the first pad prototype that was hand-stitched and made of recyclable materials. The prototype had to go many iterations but she finally developed one that is environmentally sustainable and culturally appropriate. The pad also aims to improve the menstrual health and hygiene practices employed by girls and women and make them period positive.

Soumya worked all around the world, but found one thing in common: girls were skipping school while on their periods.

Soumya also conducts awareness sessions in schools and villages to smash taboos and stigma associated with menstruation. She says, “Open and free conversation around menstruation is the only way forward. Misinformation is being passed from one generation to the next and its time to change that.” It’s been 3 years since Project Baalatook off and in this short span of time it has expanded to 12 Indian states and has impacted over 15,300 girls and women.

Open and free conversation around menstruation is the only way forward.

When asked who her inspiration is, she smiles and says, “ Elon Musk, he had the courage to take something niche and make it mainstream, I am also trying to make something so stigmatized the new normal.”

Follow Project Baalaon Instagram and Facebook to know more about their work!

विश्वमाहवारीस्वच्छतादिवसकेअवसरपरमेरी#नायिकासेमुलाक़ात

सौम्या, सिर्फ19 वर्षकीथीजबउसने“बालापरियोजना”कीसंकल्पनाकीI “बाला”काअर्थ“युवालड़की”औरयहपरियोजनायुवालड़कियोंकाऔरयुवालड़कियोंकेलिएहैIमहाविद्यालयशिक्षाकेदौरान,सौम्यास्वेछापूर्णतरीकेसेविस्तृतपैमानेपरघाना, दक्षिणअफ्रीकाएवंहरियाणाकेगांवोंमेंकामकिया,परतीनोंगाँवमेंएकसूत्रसामान्यपायाकीयहाँलड़कियांअपनेमाहवारीकेदौरानविद्यालयनहींजातीथीIइसकामतलबहै, कीएकलड़कीएकवर्षमें60 दिनया2 महीनेअपनेजीवनकासदुपयोगनहींकरपातीहै,जिसेवहकिसीअन्यकौशलयाखेलसिखनेमेंलगासकतीहैI

यहसौम्याकेजीवनकाएकमहत्वपूर्णमोड़थाऔरउसनेकुछअलगकरनेकानिश्चयकियाI उसनेविभिन्नअध्ययनसेयहजानाकी88 प्रतिशतभारतीयमहिलायेंसैनिटरीनैपकिनकाउपयोगनहींकरतीहैंऔरअपनेमाहवारीप्रबंधनकेलिएअस्वच्छतरीकेजैसेराख,भूसा, एवंपुरानेकपडेकाउपयोगकरतीहैंजोकईमामलोमेंप्रजननपथसंक्रमणएवंमूत्रपथसंक्रमणकाकारणबनतीहैI 12 प्रतिशतमहिलाएंजोव्यवसायिकसेनेटरीनैपकिन्सकाप्रयोगकरतीहैवोप्रतिवर्ष9000 टनसेनेटरीअपशिस्टउत्पादनकरतीहैंजोलगभगवाशिंगटनस्मारककेवजनकेबराबरहैI इसेध्यानमेंरखतेहुए, सौम्यानेमहीनोकेशोधएवंकठिनपरिश्रमकेबादपहलापैडविकसितकियाजोहाथसेबनाहुआएवंपुनःउपयोगीहैI कईबदलावोंसेगुजरनेकेबादअंततःउसनेपर्यावारणीयरूपसेटिकाऊएवंसांस्कृतिकरूपसेउपयोगीपैडविकसितकियाI पैडकाउद्देश्यलडकियोंएवंमहिलाओंकेमाहवारीस्वास्थयएवंस्वच्छताव्यव्हारकोसुधारनाएवंउन्हेंमाहवारीकेप्रतिसकारात्मकबनानाहैI

सौम्याविद्यालयोंएवंगांवोंमेंमाहवारीसेसम्बंधितमान्यताओंएवंकलंककेविरुद्धजागरुकतासत्रकाआयोजनकरतीहैIवहकहतीहैं- माहवारीकेसम्बन्धमेंखुलकरबातकरनाहीएकमात्रआगेकारास्ताहै, गलतसुचना एक पीढ़ी से दुसरेपीढ़ीमेजारहीहैऔरयहसमयहैजबउसेबदलाजायेI बाला परियोजना की शुरुआत हुएअभी३वर्ष ही हुएहैऔरइतनेकमसमयमेंइसकाविस्तारदेशके12 राज्योंमेंहोगयाहैऔरइसपरियोजनाने15,300 लडकियोंएवंमहिलाओकोप्रभावितकियाहैI

जबउनसेप्रेरणाश्रोतकेबारेमेंपूछागयातोवहमुस्कुराकरबोली- “एलनमस्क”- उनकेपासकुछनयाकरनेऔरउसेमुख्यधारामेंलानेकासाहसहै,औरमैंभीमाहवारीसेसम्बन्धितकलंककोसामान्यकर, कुछऐसाहीकरनेकीकोशिशकररहीहूँI

“बालापरियोजना” केबारेमें और जानने के लिए InstagramऔरFacebookपर जाये