With the voluntary contribution of just ₹1 a day, young women in Nawada district of Bihar have started a sanitary pad bank.
This initiative is inspired by edutainment show 'Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon'. For running this initiative, they collect ₹1 a day from each girl and use the money to buy sanitary pads for themselves and other girls who may not have the means to make the purchase. The girls decided to come together to assist each other when they saw how their individual menstrual needs were often not met due to a lack of money
They were inspired to take action by the show, which is also a trans-media edutainment initiative launched by the Population Foundation of India to address issues of family planning, early marriage, unplanned or early pregnancies, domestic violence and adolescent reproductive, sexual health.
With the lack of awareness about the hormonal changes happening in their bodies, many of them did not have any knowledge about menstrual cycles and the need for having the access to pads. Earlier, they didn't know anything about sanitary pads but today they have started a bank of sanitary pads.
Not just creating and sustaining a sanitary pad bank, the message of self-reliance and empowerment in the show has inspired them to conduct dialogues on subjects like contraceptive options.
Mausam Kumari, a 17-year-old youth Leader from Hardiya said, "Now we talk about family planning too. We visit villages and explain these subjects to women. We tell them about options like Antara injection, Chhaya, Copper T, and condoms."
She shares further that the girls also came together to demand youth-friendly health clinics to be set up in existing public health centres.
As authorities hold public dialogue twice a year, they expressed their wish of having a youth-friendly health clinic so that they can discuss their issues and talk about it without any fear. Now all girls in the village go there and use services available in the clinic. The women watching this change unfold are also recognising the shift in the conversation around menstruation.
One of the community members, Sangeeta Devi observed that in the past, they used to suffer silently during menstruation. Earlier, their daughters told them about napkins. But after watching the show, they felt encouraged.
Film and theatre director, Feroz Abbas Khan, who wrote the show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon is astonished by Nawada girls' success.
"When I wrote the concept for the show seven years ago, I could have never imagined the kind of impact we have seen over these years. I wanted to make a high quality show that was effectively communicating important social issues without being preachy. It makes me so happy that Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon has become an empowering slogan for young, adolescent girls who are now spearheading the change on the ground," he
The executive director of Population Foundation of India, Poonam Muttreja is delighted with how the show has given voice to millions of young girls and women. "I am glad that the show is impacting their lives. That precisely is our goal. Through the inspiring character of Dr Sneha Mathur, the protagonist, we have initiated difficult but important conversations. That these young girls in Bihar have created a bank for sanitary pads and have also succeeded in ensuring the setting up of adolescent-friendly health clinics is a matter of great pride for the foundation as well." said Poonam while discussing the impact of the show.
The show, 'Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon' revolves around the inspiring journey of Dr Sneha Mathur, a young doctor, who leaves behind her lucrative career in Mumbai and decides to work in her village. It focuses on Dr Sneha's crusade to ensure quality healthcare for all.
Under her leadership, village women find their voices through collective action. By taking inspiration from such inspiring movies, the girls have presented a setting example of how change could be initiated by putting efforts on a collective level.