BENGALURU : On her birthday last year, 16-year-old Sanjana Dixit visited ThayiMane, a childrens' home. While taking a tour of the place, she happened to visit their washrooms that were decently maintained, but raised a "serious question regarding the health and hygiene of all the children." "Especially regarding the girls' menstrual hygiene. Back at home, while I was talking with my family, this topic came up and they told me that if I felt so strongly about this issue, then I should connect with the home and do my bit," she recalls.
When she did, she realised that while many people came forward to donate books, stationery, toys etc., few came forward to provide something as important as sanitary napkins. Which is how her project - RutuChakra (meaning nature’s cycle) - came about. Sanjana did a fundraiser in January, which supported 50 plus girls for a year and based on the responses, she decided to scale up this initiative. Currently, she's running a campaign to support 500 girls for which she is working with five organisations - Mitra Jyothi, Sandesh, Samarthanam, Vidya Organisation and ThayiMane - some of which are linked to government schools to whom the project will be extended.
Sanjana, along with ten of her friends who also believe in this cause, is taking forward her campaign through a crowdfunding platform - FuelADream - with the aim to collect funds to provide 1 lakh sanitary napkins to underprivileged girls. This will support 500 girls for a year.
The reason that Sanjana is specifically focussing on menstrual hygiene is because she feels that it affects girls in five spheres - health, dignity, participation, education and economy. "For many women, the menstrual cycle is, in fact, synonymous to social stigma, cultural perceptions and myths. Today, out of the 355 million menstruating girls/women in India, over 88% of them do not have access to hygienic menstrual products, and in its absence, resort to using hay, leaves, old rags, bark and mud - yes, even mud.
And the first question that sprung up in my mind was - Why? Why, after all these years, was menstruation still affecting women negatively? Why were so many women in India not able to access safe menstrual products? Why should so many girls be deprived of such an integral part of their health and hygiene? Why?," she wonders.
While it was a tough balancing act being in 10th grade, preparing for pre-boards, and coordinating the initiative -- Sanjana worked her way around it. In a country where the subject of menstruation itself is considered a taboo and not discussed openly, she hopes to give a different discourse and change perceptions on the issue. You can be part of the change by logging on to https://www.fueladream.com