Gurugram teens help migrant women keep menstrual hygiene amid Covid-19 pandemic

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Zoya, Ishaan, Zaara, Tanya, Sana, Arjun and Aryaman — these 13-15 year olds are no ordinary kids. Unlike youngsters of their age, this group of seven, who are all classmates in Std IX, have started a fund-raising initiative called ‘We Stand by Her’. Zoya Sethi describes the initiative as an “effort to uphold dignity and comfort of migrant women who are making an arduous journey home, on foot.”

“Many, we know, were helping out migrants with food, water, and ration kits, but no one was providing sanitary pads for women.”— Zoya Sethi, a Gurugram teen

The campaign aims to raise funds to provide hygienic reusable sanitary napkins to women. Ask how they came by the idea, the teenagers say that they had been constantly discussing the plight of the migrant workers with their parents while spending their days at home. “Many, we know, were helping out migrants with food, water, and ration kits, but no one was providing sanitary pads for women,” adds Zoya.

“We did not come across any initiative that was specially for women who would probably get their periods while walking home,” says Sanaa while Ishaan Mittal, another young member of the campaign adds, “We wanted to provide reusable cloth napkins that are biodegradable because they can be used multiple times, and do not harm the environment since they are biodegradable.’’

Their search for a partner, to help them in their campaign, led them to Udaipur-based not-for-profit organisation Jatan Sansthan, which runs project Uger — to locally source cotton that is stitched by women to make reusable cotton pads. “We understood that the regular challenges of periods were enhanced by Covid-19 for migrant women. So we subsidised our pads highly, so that they could reach the most marginalised women. Each cloth costs around ₹90 and can be used for 1.5 years,” says Smriti Kedia, co-creator of Uger. She adds that the project allows women to create pads at home, in a safe environment, and also breaks the taboo around menstruation.

The group’s classmates and individual donors have rallied for the kids by sharing their initiative on social media. “So far, we have raised over one and a half lakh, and are inching closer towards our initial goal of two lakh. We have provided almost 600 sanitary napkins to the Red Cross Society, which is making kits inclusive of food and sanitary pads for the migrant women,” informs Tanya Malhotra. These kids have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Zoya shares, “We had initially planned to raise two lakh, but now we are gunning for more so that the campaign benefits as many as possible.”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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