Team Menstrupedia is inspiring young girls from across the country to break taboos
For millions of girls in India, puberty still remains associated with ‘being unclean’ and an ’embarrassment that must be suffered through every month’ even today.
Aditi, who grew up in the town of Garwah in Jharkhand, remembers living through the ‘stigma’ that a woman’s menstrual cycle was a ‘dirty’ secret that needed to be hidden. Although she comes from a well-to-do family she was advised to use rags during her periods.
“I have two brothers and I am the eldest child. My mom would say, ‘Who will go to the medical store and ask for napkins? It is so embarrassing!I would have menstrual cramps and I could not talk about it in the house. “Every month, I had to wash the rags clean and dry them in a dark place where no one could see them.”Gradually, I developed rashes but I wasn’t encouraged to use sanitary napkin” says Aditi
To make the taboo topic an important and necessary subject of discussion in India Aditi founded Menstrupedia in 2012 with the aim of helping young girls understand and deal with puberty and sex education in a positive manner.
During her post-graduation Aditi and her friend Tuhin researched about puberty and how it changes a woman’s body — realising the information they had collected could benefit others. Aditi wrote a book in Hindi, explaining everything they had learnt about puberty and the changes in the body.
In 2012, Tuhin and Aditi got married and within few months they quit their respective jobs and started working on Menstrupedia out of their apartment in Ahmedabad.
“We started by investing all our savings — about Rs 2 lakhs. Our parents weren’t convinced but it helped that we were now married and could make our own decisions. We had confidence in our idea.”
In May 2013, they launched Menstrupedia.com, collected Rs 4-5 lakhs in their first round of crowdfunding, tied up with Tadpole Store, an online marketplace for consumer goods, who took care of the logistics. They used social media — Facebook and Twitter in particular — to create awareness about their project.
Menstrupedia, the illustrated book, was launched in Hindi in September 2014 . Slowly they started receiving orders from people across the country. They have sold 4,000 copies of the book across Hindi and English as of now.
We can now afford to pay salaries, rent an office and perhaps hire a bigger team . We are currently a team of four people, including Tuhin and I, but we have an amazing network of people in different cities who are always willing to help,” she says excitedly.
Menstrupedia is currently available in English and Hindi with Amazon, Flipkart and Tadpole for Rs 475 per book. However, if you order more than 500 copies, you can get it for Rs 100 per copy. They have shipped copies to South America and the Philippines and, in the future, intend to launch in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Aditi through her start up points out the collective responsibility of parents and teachers to empower youngsters by educating them about puberty, menstruation and sex.
Lets hope we will have a new India where the society will not stigmatise young women or girls on the topic menstruation.
Read more on the topic here
Image source: Menstrupedia.com
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