Internationally acclaimed award-winning photographer, social reformer, Art Of Living faculty and motivational speaker Niraj Gera aims to nurture humanity around the world through various means. The founder-president of Humanify Foundation, an NGO dedicated to giving voice to the underprivileged, marginalised and unheard sections of society, talks about his vision of creating awareness among girls, women and men on menstrual health and hygiene as well as educating and sensitising them, especially men. Excerpts:
When and why did you decide on starting Humanify Foundation?
As a social activist, I like working on various causes which are close to my heart. I like reaching out to maximum number of people and help them live with a stress-free mind, disease-free body and violence-free society as per the vision of my guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. For the sake of attaining my social service goals, I formed Humanify Foundation with various other members of our NGO, with a goal to nurture humanity in society and make this world a better place to live.
How do you ensure reaching the masses?
We are planning to reach the masses through our menstrual hygiene awareness camps called Paavni which is focussed on women/ girls living in rural areas, slums, villages and similar places. We are striking conversations with their male counterparts and motivating them to help women to take a decision to use hygienic sanitary pads. We are also sensitising students through our unique workshop, Special Period. As of now we are in Delhi-NCR but soon we’ll launch a pan-India campaign.
How difficult is it to bring about a change?
There are various challenges in every social cause. India is a patriarchal society where rules are set up by men and, at times, implemented by women. So both men and women need to be part of discussions. We need to bring more people in to this conversation in a way that brings more positive period power. This problem needs a holistic solution, which includes awareness and transformation in society, educational reforms, drafting and implementation of policy related to healthy menstruation and de-stigmatisation of periods by state and Union government, efforts by NGOs and other similar efforts by various segments of society and nation.We are in discussions with Union Health Ministry, NITI Aayog and various other related ministries to draft a policy to deal with the problems related to menstruation and period shaming. So far, the response has been very positive.
You don so many roles. Which of these is the closest to your heart and why?
I think the closest role to me is the role of a good human being. All others are just the manifestation of that single role. If every person on this planet starts relating with this basic role of their lives, this world will be a very beautiful place to live with harmony all around.
Plans for future…
The vision is to empower girls, women and men with knowledge and awareness on menstrual health and hygiene and giving them free sanitary pads under the umbrella of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene campaign.It also aims at Gender Sensitisation and raising the awareness for the proper sanitation and toilets in India. Apart from this, we will keep raising our voice for making a national policy for menstruation till the time such policy is made.