“Don’t touch the pickle” or “Do not enter a temple..” these are some of the many myths that are fed to women and young girls right from a very early age across households in India. While not all are victims of period-shaming or the stigma that comes with it, most girls in both rural or urban settings have been victims of societal taboos that surround periods.
NGO organises Period Fest
While individuals and organisations across the country have been working hard to educate young women and girls and start a conversation on periods, the national capital on February 5 saw a phenomenal sight. Thousands of school students, mostly girls, marched to Delhi’s Connaught Place with colourful placards, all in an attempt to eliminate the taboos which surround periods.
This was an initiative by a Delhi based NGO called Sachhi Saheli, which had organised the Menstrual Hygiene Day Period Fest & ‘Pad’ Yatra. The organisation was founded four years ago by Dr Surbhi Singh, who is a gynaecologist and the president of the organisation. Talking to The Logical Indian, Dr Singh said, “While I was practising medicine, I realized that a lot of women, from across different strata have a very hollowed understanding of menstruation.”
She realized that women need to be educated on the topic and hence focused on imparting that education to the country’s younger gentry. She said, “I started going to schools because I thought that if I can’t change the mindset of older women, at least I can mould the minds of the younger girls.” From there on, Singh had no turning back as the organisation went from one school to another, educating young girls’ minds. In the process, they understood that young girls are conditioned by the same ideas that their elders are as well, and the phenomenon is not restricted to just a certain section of society.
Hence, for her, filling that void in the girls’ mind with correct and useful information was an important task as she thought that it can hopefully break the vicious cycle. She said, “Most girls keep the discussion on periods to a minimum and they do not understand the biological aspects of it.” While the organization has been working in Delhi and other parts of northern India, Sachhi Saheli decided to make an even bigger impact. She said, “We decided to choose February since it has 28 days and it exactly adds up to our menstrual cycle and we fixed the date on 5th since a women’s periods lasts for about five days on an average.”
Pad Yatra in full swing
It was a marvellous site to see on that unassuming Tuesday morning. Around 7000-8000 school students, mostly girls paraded at Delhi’s Connaught Place with pad shaped placards which read unique slogans, all empowering menstruating women. Possibly for the first time, what was once talked behind closed doors and hushed tones saw the participation of thousands of young minds who refused to be tied down by periods… or anything!
With no euphemisms, or shame, which is indicative of “that time of the month”, young girls from over 65 government and private schools marched in the parade which also saw the participation of Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia, as the chief guest of the mega event. “I urge each one of you to become brand ambassadors of this message to eradicate shame and the silence surrounding periods,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
The fest saw all kinds of song, dance, drama and festivities which all pivot the central theme of bringing the topic of menstruation to the fore. The organisation also set up a “Pad Zone” which taught girls how to manage menstruation. Singh said, “From cloth pads to normal pads and even tampons, there was everything available which would help girls to make their decision on their own.” To spread even more awareness, the girls participated in skits and painted as well.
The organisation, which has received support from Delhi authorities, now wants to impact others’ lives as well. The Logical Indian appreciates the organisation for taking such a monumental step.