Initiative Education

Breaking taboos

SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT   | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

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Shikoh Zaidi is helping women in her village by providing easy access to their basic hygiene needs

Breaking taboos
Shikoh Zaidi, a 16-year-old girl from Kuwarpur Baghel in Hardoi district of central Uttar Pradesh, has started a social initiative to break taboos around menstruation and spread awareness about menstrual hygiene, in her village. She was inspired by Deepa Narayan’s book on gender inequality titled Chup, which talks about an average Indian woman’s struggle in a patriarchal society.

Encouraged by her teachers at VidyaGyan, a school that offers free education to meritorious underprivileged students in Uttar Pradesh, Zaidi was inspired to do something to improve the lives of women in her own village.

“The conservative outlook of my village doesn’t allow for a space where one can talk openly about these issues. However, with my father’s assistance, I was able to organise a campaign by writing slogans and collecting short videos around menstrual health and hygiene. My father and I went door-to- door to invite women and girls to create awareness,” says Zaidi.

“When I first demonstrated the use of sanitary napkins, they giggled and were amazed at the sheer sight of them. Some women were completely ignorant about this basic product. By the third screening, I noticed that women were engaging with me and clarifying their queries as well. Some girls had even started using it,” she adds.

No help

However, many women in the village cannot afford these products. “I wrote to the district magistrate to make free sanitary pads available to the women in our village. But, the authorities failed to keep their promises. Panchayat officials were also of no help,” laments Zaidi.

Many women are still using cloth and rags because free pads are only available in a shop that is 20 km away.

Nonetheless, Zaidi is creating awareness on methods to maintain hygiene and cleanliness during menstruation with the available resources. “I am planning to make a self-help group and install a sanitary pad making machine which will not only help in solving this issue but also provide employment to people in the village,” she says.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:48:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/breaking-taboos/article30059108.ece

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