Menstrual Hygiene is vital to the empowerment and well-being of women and girls worldwide. It’s more than just access to sanitary pads and availability of toilets, though those are important. Ensuring an environment that values and supports the dignity of women and girls to manage their menstruation, is much more important.
“Women and adolescent girls are using clean menstrual management materials to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials”Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
Even being so relevant, this topic has been discussed with a shame in India and some other countries, like it’s a crime or something, but on this Independence Day 2020, our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi spoke about SANITARY NAPKINS from the Red Fort, which is an essential for women during their hard times (menstruation period). Few years ago, Akshay Kumar a famous bollywood actor, made a movie on this topic named as PADMAN.
These acts have broke the taboo to some extent, and led our minds towards a topic which people feel shy talking about even in 21st century.
Nischay Foundation has been working to break this taboo long before PM’s address from the Red Fort, and release of Akshay Kumar’s PADMAN. Journey of Nischay started from the Steel City Jamshedpur but over the years it has been recognized globally by Limca Book of Records and Top 10 South Asian Movements at ENGO Awards.
In an exclusive chat with Mr. Tarun Kumar Founder Secretary of Nischay Foundation, many of our queries related to this initiative has been answered.
Mr. Tarun Kumar has been working for the rural development, specially for kids from last 10 to 12 years, where they mostly focus on their education. During one of his classroom sessions, a girl suddenly ran away from the place, when the classmates asked her friends, they told them about her periods, and there began Nischay. An idea which later turned into responsibility to break the taboo & silence over menstruation.
After long discussions with volunteers, exactly after one year of hardwork their journey started in full swing.
Mr. Tarun alongside with his friend, Poonam Mahanand, initiated this campaign, and now the Nischay family has almost 70 members on board, doing different tasks assigned to them for the betterment of rural areas.
The very first project?
“Our past experiences taught us a lot, so we knew the exact places where these initiatives has to be done, on 28 may 2017 we started this campaign in Tetla Village in Potka, which is situated in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand.”, Mr. Tarun said.
He continued, “Since then we have executed many different initiatives like Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Camp in 2017, Gift Sanitary Pads for Rural Girls campaign, we also brought in the concept of the movie, Padman, we wrote literatures related to this topic. Social media played a vital role for us, it made our presence global.”
Who mostly leads the initiatives?
“We lead a project named as Project Pad Human, menstruation is definitely related to women & girls but as a parent the male head of a family must be aware about this too. If you look down the situation during lockdown, people’s basic struggle was for food but if the kid or mother needs the sanitary pad, how can they connect to his father or husband, if the environment at their home doesn’t allow them. So if both male and female are aware of it, then it’s not even a problem at first place.”, Mr. Tarun shared.
“We totally believe in gender equality but there is a thing that if a male person speak on these issues with that much confidence somehow other men of the society will also learn and follow.”, he further added.
We are just the catalyst, who only initiates, after our task it’s actually the women of different areas, who take the charge and spread the awareness to other villagers.Mr. Tarun Kumar, Co-Founder, Nischay Foundation
If COVID-19 put the speed breakers?
Mr. Tarun replied confidentially, “Amid this pandemic, it was definitely tough but our volunteers had done tremendous work, not only they reached out to the rural areas they continuously provided their support to the girls in those rural areas, with this we have donated more then 5000 pads among 150 villages during the lockdown.”
Not sure about the perfect stats but we’ve helped almost 15000 girls and women in our 3 year journey and it actually formed a chain and they further helped a lakh people more on their own.Mr. Tarun Kumar, Co-Founder, Nischay
How do you see the PM speaking addressing it from the Red Fort?
We are very happy that someone who is at the top authority speaks about this issue. It can be called a Taboo break, but there is still a few things that needs to be looked after. For example, the free sanitary pads available for girls at the Janaushadhi Kendra, about which PM Modi mentioned in his speech, should be more accessible on ground level. We are a population of almost 135 crore people where there are almost 65 crore women so 5 crore is a very small number, but yes we are happy that our PM addressed during his speech.
Your future projections & plans?
All of us at Nischay share one common goal, to spread this initiative everywhere, but we lack resources, my hard-work and experience has helped me a lot, in such a way that if the organization have proper resources we can easily help 1 lakh girls in just one month. Most of the time we have to spend from our pockets, but we never let the motion downwards because of monetary issues.
Nevertheless, as we are growing we should also be careful about other factors like environment, thus we started the initiative “Ek Pad Ek Ped” which is working towards making a greener society. Besides that we have started a scholarship program in the name of late soldier Ganesh Hansda, many such initiatives are in the works.
Nischay have done some tremendous work over the years but they need tremendous support because they don’t have deep pockets but they definitely have bigger hearts.
You can help them with monetary contribution by following this link, Nischay Sanitary Pads Donation
As Mr. Tarun said, “These awards and all are great but what matters the most is that our message should impact someone’s life”, we at Jamshedpur Guru, salutes the never ending spirit & dedication of him and the whole Nischay team.