Efforts Of A Marathi Woman To Spread Awareness About Sustainable Menstrual Products
Seema Khandale, after being a homemaker for 2 decades, sets up an NGO in Mumbai to spread awareness about sustainable menstruation options.
There is an old saying-"A person is never too old to set another goal if you have dedication." 48-year-old Seema Khandala is one of such type of people who practiced this saying in real life.
Seema, a mother of two sons, always had a keen desire to be a productive member of society. So, after two decades of being a homemaker, she pursued her master's in social work from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In 2015, she set up Ashay Social Group, a non-governmental organization in Mumbai. This NGO is nowadays spreading awareness about the harmful effects of plastic. For this, her NGO performs a lot of activities- from upcycling old fabrics into cloth bags to introducing menstruation options for curtailing hassles during periods.
Her Efforts Towards Greener Environment
Her first step in this direction was to make and distribute cloth bags. For arranging the raw material, she requested in her social circle to give away their old sarees, blouses, and other old clothes to the NGO. She employed 4 ladies to stitch bags. When the cloth bags were ready, she fixed a point for handing them over for free of cost to grocery stores, vegetable vendors, etc.
She explains,"It will reduce the tendency of people to use polythene bags because cloth bags can be reused which eventually help in curtailing single-use-plastics which will cause damage to both the human health and environment."
Promoting Sustainable Menstruation Options
It was another initiative that she launched for promoting sustainable menstruation options like- menstrual cups. She got to know about it for the first time while reading an article about menstrual cups in a magazine. To test it out, she purchased one and found it was more comfortable than sanitary pads. She got to know that these cups were sustainable and eco-friendly. Further, she understood that it takes hundreds of years for sanitary pads to decompose because of plastic presence. Moreover, according to a statistic, every woman uses an average of 11000 sanitary pads in her lifetime which means a lot of plastic in going into the environment. For this, in 2017, she decided to initiate creating awareness about menstrual cups and started posting videos highlighting their advantages on social media. Further on, she received invitations from several schools, colleges, etc. for conducting awareness sessions about sustainable menstruation products.
She says," Generally I use to introduce menstrual cups to women and tell them how it can be fitted into the vagina for collecting blood. I also bring to their attention that cups can save them from hassles of periods- rashes, leakage and skin infections, etc."
She even got into manufacturing and selling menstrual cups. She created her own cup design and outsourced this production to her friend who was a rubber-cum-silicon product manufacturer and she began to sell it at Rs. 555 per cup.
Not An Easy Task
However, in a country like India, it is a very difficult task to spread awareness about these things. Seema says," An aspect that proved to be a hurdle was stigma and taboo surrounding menstruation. Whenever I started to talk about menstrual cups, lots of people used to turn a deaf ear."
Now she is planning to continue her initiative for the sake of a cleaner and greener environment for future times.