Odisha’s Padwoman gifts ‘treasure kits’ to rural women
Entrepreneur Anushree Dash is running a campaign ‘Periods are Normal’ to create awareness on menstrual hygiene among women of Sundargarh district, writes Diana Sahu
BHUBANESWAR: Sixty-nine per cent of the female population in Odisha still uses a cloth pad during menstruation and only 30 pc of women in rural parts of the State have access to a sanitary pad, according to the last National Family Health Survey (NFHS). Worse, speaking about menstruation is still a taboo in many parts of the State.
A Sundargarh-based entrepreneur Anushree Dash is taking small steps to bring about a change in this scenario. She has been running a campaign ‘Periods are Normal’ for the last six months under which, she is taking measures to make period sound normal for every woman.
Under her campaign, Anushree with the help of her parents Dilip Kumar Dash and Bharati Mishra, has been gifting menstrual hygiene kits which she calls ‘treasure boxes’ to women from rural pockets and disadvantaged sections of the society. Each kit contains three packets of sanitary pads, two underclothes, one sanitiser and a soap which would last a month.
So far, she has reached out to over 5,000 women like construction workers, farmers, househelps in Rourkela and nearby areas besides, girls in rural pockets of Sundargarh district. She calls the kit a ‘treasure box’ because it comes as a relief for someone who is still afraid to talk about periods openly and tired of getting sanitary napkins wrapped in newspaper and then black polythene.
Anushree, the founder and designer of ADiBha, a contemporary and sustainable fashion brand redefining Sambalpuri Ikat, thought of the campaign after returning to Odisha from Bengaluru last year following the Covid-19 outbreak.
“While interacting with my househelp and women weavers who I work with, I was shocked to know that they still use cloth and rags as pads. Periods are as natural as breathing for a woman and yet women choose to keep it a secret and a closed-door affair”, she said, adding that her initiative is aimed at creating awareness amongst women in urban slums and villages about menstrual health and provide them with sustainable solution to lead a hassle-free life during their periods.
While her campaign is mostly self-funded and crowd-funded to some extent, Anushree is now looking for corporate partnership as her area of work is increasing. She has started a fundraiser ‘Sponsor a Girl’ on Milaap to crowdfund the kits for the next 12 months.