In our workshops we have three main sections, that ensure we address the challenges for women regarding menstruation.
The first is basic feminine hygiene and sexual health education. This is huge.
If all women everywhere understood their own bodies and how to care for them then that would be a huge step towards women’s empowerment.
The second is either to provide a reusable sanitary towel or, ideally, to teach the women to sew their own reusable sanitary towel. This gives them a valuable skill that they may use or pass on to others. It also gives ownership to the sanitary towel that they have made, making it more likely that they will use it. If we give a kit (which costs $10 each) then we ask for a contribution towards it, whatever the women or girls can afford; even if it’s just 50 rupees again it gives a sense of ownership for the towel and it is more likely that they will try to use it.
The third and final part is a creative exercise that’s aim is to reduce the level of taboo around menstruation and introduce the idea of ‘Together we are Stronger’. We have a few techniques for doing this but the one most closely linked with our ‘crowd’ of women coming together is to ask all the women to draw a female that they admire, a heroine. The variety of responses is huge, from doctors, to mothers or daughters, goddesses and famous actresses. We ask what the similarities are between these heroines. Responses such as clever, beautiful and strong often come back. We point out that they also all menstruate, or have some experience related to menstruation within their lives. It’s so normal. So why are we embarrassed to talk about something that is so natural? And so fundamental to all of life!!?
Women giggle and laugh, some are quiet. And for a lot you can tell that it’s started a thought process, which is the aim. We want to plant seeds for women to elaborate on and consider what it means for them…