The Period Society

Setting up an eco friendly reusable menstrual hygiene product network to both provide employment and access to menstrual hygiene in India

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Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

8th April,2002

Help us stay in touch!

85, Nassau Drive New York : Albertson 11507 Phone - +1 5167105718

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website - www.periodsociety.org Instagram @periodsociety Facebook - The Period Society

Date You Started Your Project Started

October 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

215 million women in India do not have access to menstrual hygiene products while there are 23 million girls dropping out of school every year because of a lack of access to period products .Menstruation is still a taboo and topic of shame across India. Moreover a woman can generate up to 125 kilograms of non biodegradable menstrual waste in her lifetime. This is alarming because a single sanitary napkin takes 500-800 years to decompose.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

To improve access to menstrual hygiene products in low income communities such as red light districts in India, under resourced schools and homeless communities, we purchase eco friendly biodegradable napkins which last for 3 years from Days For Girls - a US organization recognized by the UN.battle climate change, global warming and do our bit for the environment by striving to promote the use of and distributing eco friendly reusable sanitary napkins which are a 100% biodegradable. That’s minimum waste generated, a cleaner earth, and chemical free periods ! We develop modules in world and regional languages to disseminate information about menstrual hygiene and conduct menstrual hygien education sessions in India. We have a student leader program and are working on creating modules and fundraising guides to enable them to conduct sessions and lead our efforts within their communities. Battling cultural taboos with cultural sensitivity Since we have several team members from India, we completely understand the cultural taboos present in India, and can exercise religious and cultural sensitivity when addressing our audience when we conduct educational sessions.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I personally felt the influence of the menstrual taboo growing up in India for the first 16 years of my life. I was always frustrated by the fact that my parents in health professions never taught me about such an important process that takes place every month in my body and enforced these beliefs because my body was supposedly shedding impure blood every month. I wasn’t allowed to worship, attend religious or cultural events, touch pickles which I could reduce to “yeast” or touch plants because “my hormones would make them rot.” After a shocking revelation during healthcare internship at the Tata Memorial hospital in India where a female family member of a young boy I tutored in the pediatric oncology ward confided in me that because of the cost of treatment she couldn’t afford sanitary napkins hence she used a rag during her periods, I wanted to improve access to menstrual products.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We conducted a session in Kamathipura, one of the largest red light districts in India where many sex workers are victims of human trafficking. During our session a lot of women mentioned that this was the first time in their lives that they understood what menstruation was and felt happy now that they knew it wasn’t a disease. A lot of them were homeless and mentioned that the pads we gave them would allow them to live with dignity during their periods and make sure that their daughters didn’t drop out of school because of a lack of access to Period Products. One woman stayed back at the end of the session and requested us to conduct workshops to teach her how to make the pads to so that she could escape from the brothel where she was trafficked and be financially independent. Our student leaders at the event were also moved by the lack of education that they had bridged that day.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our project, as depicted in several of the slides attached, meets several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with one initiative showing the interconnectedness of the global goals. Unlike mist other menstrual hygiene initiatives, we refrain from distributing cloth pads and reduce environmental impact and the cycle of dependency by using eco friendly cloth pads which last for 3 years and are stitched by women in low income communities themselves hence giving them a source of income. We also have a unique module on taboos specific to India and keeping in mind our audience’s culture.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have so far conducted more than 10 menstrual hygiene education sessions in villages, slums and municipal schools where women use cow dung, ash, rags, and grass during their periods. We conducted menstrual hygiene education sessions for over 1000 women in India and donated eco friendly reusable pads for over 700 women meeting their menstrual hygiene needs for 3 years and serving 25,200 periods ! We have a team of 30+ individuals on a volunteer basis from more than 5 states in the USA and 6 countries ! Our team is aged 14-22 and we’re a proud platform for GenZ to lead the menstrual movement in India. We have chapters coming up at 6 locations in India including major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Kodaikanal, Hyderabad, Vellore and Pune ! We estimate by the end of 2019 to have over 100 students on board and during my gap year I plan to return to India and expand nationwide !

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We’re currently implementing a chapter model wherein students can open a chapter of the Period Society in their cities or their schools to conduct menstrual hygiene education sessions, fundraise, and distribute period products in low income communities locally. During my gap year we will also be applying for multiple fellowships and grants to fund our project, and releasing our line of merchandise including eco friendly tote bags and partnering with home bakers to receive a part of the proceeds at pop up stalls. We’re going to be expanding to the whole of India during my gap year and getting registered as a 501(c)3 non profit in the United States so that we can directly receive donations. We’re also have multiple upcoming collaborations.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Management

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Nadya Okamoto - Period Girl of the United States and my sHERO !

2 comments

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Spam
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Team

I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe in your project. It is so amazing to know that you are doing this kind of work in India! I wish you the best as your project continues to flourish.

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