BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY
Padman, a film on menstrual hygiene, sparked a movement that our country desperately needed. The film was recognized as an essential and socially relevant initiative for sensitizing people to the issue of menstruation and easing the discourse surrounding it. While the film utilized its wide appeal to raise awareness about menstruation hygiene, this foundation is empowering period havers on menstrual hygiene and menstrual health through education and awareness. While the film's enormous appeal was used to promote awareness about menstrual hygiene, this organization is empowering period havers via education and knowledge about menstrual cleanliness and menstrual health.
In an exclusive chat with NewsGram, Saloni Bhutra, the founder of Paddling Foundation spoke about the Ngo's initiatives and vision for the coming years.
Q: Firstly, how would describe your foundation in terms of the visions and missions you have created for yourself?
A: Paddling is a menstrual hygiene program and non-profit organization headquartered in Mumbai, India. Our team strives to raise awareness about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, which is one of the most underappreciated concerns in India today. As a result, our current aim is to design a healthy and stigma-free atmosphere in which menstruation is no longer a taboo subject. Along with this we also aim to provide menstruation education and distribute menstrual goods through campaigns in smaller areas to raise awareness about period health and cleanliness. We promote the use of environmentally friendly menstruation products and sanitary napkin disposal methods.
Q: Did you ever feel like you are being judged for this initiative? Tell us about the challenges that you have faced over the years.
A: Most definitely. In India, menstruation is a cultural problem. It is an issue that is seldom discussed in families and schools. It's frowned upon and associated with weird religious undertones. When we originally started, there was a lot of criticism. I recall that when we first went to a slum neighborhood in Mumbai for a campaign, the males in the area refused to come. Not just the males, but even several women, were hesitant to discuss the subject. The main issue that we have faced during the course of 2 years has been of raising funds. People in some areas do not even consider this to be an actual health issue and hence, they do not step up for such causes. But via fundraisers, we recently collected a sum of 20,000 and conducted a free gynecology camp in adopted regions where professional physicians are unavailable owing to a lack of geographic resources.
Q. What are the possibilities that you plan to create and what have been your achievements till now?
A. Talking about our achievement, in the course of 2 years, we have distributed 16,516 menstrual products around the country. And through these distributions and our aware awareness campaigns, we have successfully impacted more than 2000 women and 35+ communities of India.
One possibility that we are working on now is the school sanitation project. It will ensure the entire development of schools in rural regions in terms of sanitary facilities, distribution of period products, and teaching and knowledge about menstruation. Another important possibility is to open menstrual shops and empowering women in rural regions by allowing them to open stores selling subsidized menstrual supplies which will, in turn, provide them with a source of income while simultaneously serving the community at large.
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Q. At last, what message do you have for our readers today?
A. I would like all my readers, whether men or women, to talk and educate people around you on the subject. Because the taboo around menstruation will remain if menstrual hygiene is not considered and adequate measures are not adopted. Start with educating your mothers and daughters and sisters and then reach a wider audience. Periods, a normal function of the body, will continue to be misunderstood, and illnesses like UTI and fungal infections, as well as psychological consequences like the loss of confidence, will only worsen the health of our loved ones. So, it's critical that misconception is promptly removed which is why Paddling is committed to fostering a healthy and knowledgeable conversation around menstruation.