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Menstrual hygiene day: Team ‘Triya’ bringing a change, one pad at a time

Unique endeavour: six girl students have not only raised funds for a pad bank but are placing pink dustbins to segregate menstrual waste.

punjab Updated: May 28, 2018 15:38 IST
Jagmeeta Thind Joy
Jagmeeta Thind Joy
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Menstrual hygiene,hygiene day,period issues
Members of Triya decided to set up a pad bank after distributing pads to girls in Bhankarpur village in Mohali and slums near the Nada Sahib Gurdwara in Panchkula.(Karun Sharma/HT)

There are no girly giggles or embarrassing glances as Team ‘Triya’ addresses period issues. For the last six months, this team comprising of six young girls from the city - four are in school and two in first year of college - have been visiting schools, slums and an orphanage in underprivileged areas to talk to girls their age and older about menstrual hygiene.

“Today, we launched our pad bank in the Guru Aasra orphanage in Mohali,” informed 15-year-old Rehmat Swani, a student of Class X at Strawberry Fields High School as she pointed to the colourful boxes in a corner. “For the last six months we have been raising funds to start a pad bank. As a first step, we zeroed down on three places where underprivileged girls have no access to sanitary pads. We intend to supply them with sanitary pads through the year,” added Eknoor Chahal, a first year student of Economics at Panjab University.

‘Triya’ - the name of their project – means a young enlightened girl. Apart from Swani and Chahal, the team also comprises Navya Chawla (16), Ridhi Gupta (19), Nehmat Sandhu (15) and Sumedha Bhandari (16) “We all are friends and one day we ended up discussing menstrual hygiene and how many girls our age have no access to sanitary pads. Instead of just talking about it, we decided to work out a plan,” says Nehmat Sandhu, a student of Class 10. The group started talking to friends and family about the issue and began to raise funds. “We also took on an independent survey with help from CII’s Indian Women Network (IWN) wing. We surveyed 300 girls on menstrual hygiene and found out that just a handful of them were using pads. They all were using mostly cloth and open to infections. We also realised that most of them were reluctant to talk to about their period,” explains Navya Chawla.

After distributing pads to girls in Bhankarpur village in Mohali and slums near Nadda Sahib gurudwara, the team decided to set up a pad bank. But another problem came to the fore. “During our research, we also realised that disposal of menstrual waste is another cause for concern. The sanitary napkins get mixed with the normal waste and then segregation of the waste becomes almost next to impossible. Ideally, napkins should be incinerated immediately after use if we need to protect our environment. So we came up with the idea of a pink dustbin where the menstrual napkins will be disposed off separately at the first hand phase making it easier for it to be treated and thus saving time and the environment,” explains Swani. The team has raised funds for ten dustbins and are now working to raise money to buy a small incinerator as well.

Looking to place the pink dustbins in hospitals, dispensaries, schools and colleges, the team met with Chandigarh mayor Davesh Moudgil earlier this week and put up their proposal. “He was very enthusiastic about the idea. We want Chandigarh to be the first city in the country with the concept of separate dustbins for disposal of menstrual waste,” pitches in Gupta. And looks like their work isn’t going unnoticed. UK-based NGO, Binti.period, a well-known organisation that works around the world to provide menstrual dignity to girls, has paired up with ‘Triya’. “We have all signed up with them for a menstrual educator programme that will help us educate girls and women about menstruation and hygiene,” explains Bhandari. They are now chalking out fund-raiser campaigns for the months ahead.

“It is still considered taboo and shameful to talk about periods but we feel the more we talk about it, the better it will be. It is a natural phenomenon and we need to help all girls get their basic right to bleed hygienically,” sums up Chawla.

First Published: May 28, 2018 15:38 IST