Say Yes to the Pad Habit in Kolkata
(The red theme is our tribute to RED FM for their groundbreaking initiative)
We talk about women empowerment from the grass root level but how is that possible if they are considered non functional for few days every month? The social dogma heightens during periods as if to say that women become untouchables – ‘can’t enter the temple’ ‘can’t enter the kitchen’ ‘hide your pad’ ‘don’t disgust us with your period problems’ etc etc
Such is the stigma surrounding the monthly natural phenomenon of menstruation, that it is a taboo to talk about it openly, leave alone spreading awareness of the fact that 1 out of 5 girls in India drop out of school due to menstruation and about 28 percent of them go absent. India accounts for 27 percent of the World’s cervical cancer deaths. This is partly due to poor hygiene. The disease and death rate relating to this issue is on an alarming rise.
Women in the lower strata of the society take to unhygienic use and reuse of cloth during their menstruation. Lack of awareness makes it very difficult for women and girls living in the slums to have complete knowledge about the importance of sanitary napkins, how to use them, where to buy them from, how to dispose them off and more importantly, the hygiene related to the use of napkins. Even if they are aware of sanitary pads, they cannot afford the high priced sanitary pads that are available in the market.
So, when an anonymous young girl sent an open letter to RED FM concerning the embarrassment she faces during her menstrual cycle owing to which she had to stop going to school for few days
(She took to RED FM as according to her, God will also not listen to her on the days of menstruation, as girls are not allowed to go to the temple during such days)
RED FM, as part of their CSR activity initiated the ‘Pad Habit’ campaign in Kolkata, addressing the problem of Sanitation for women. Red FM along with Seed Foundation under their ‘Bajaao for a Cause’ umbrella organised a fund raiser to educate women and girls staying in less developed areas of the city about the importance of hygiene and sanitation and most importantly, the use of Sanitary Pads during periods.
They have installed Sanitary Pad Vending Machines in 50 govt. (girls) schools in Kolkata. Low cost sanitary pads (Rs.10 for 3 pcs) would be available in the vending machines fixed to their walls making it accessible and affordable. Not only will this spread awareness about the use of sanitary napkins but will also give young girls an easy access to them. To make the use of pads a habit Red FM has named the campaign – Pad Habit!
RED FM conducted a workshop in these government schools with the help of doctors, NGO workers and RED FM RJs, where they interacted with female students of class 6 onwards.
Through their interaction, they conveyed this strong message of making the use of sanitary pads a habit. They were told of the unhealthy use of cloth and were made aware of the hygienic use of sanitary pads which would be available to them at their school campus so that they don’t need to miss school during those days.
Commenting on the launch of ‘Pad Habit’ campaign, Nisha Narayanan, COO Red FM said,
“Being a woman and understanding the importance of women hygiene, we at Red FM team decided to take the responsibility this Women’s day and talk about a pertinent issue affecting the females from a certain section of the society. On one hand, we talk about women empowerment but at the basic hygiene level, we are still lagging. There are issues that need to be addressed and that too on an urgent basis. Almost 88% of menstruating women in India do not have access to sanitary products and about 90% of the sanitary napkins used are made of non-biodegradable plastic. Our ‘Pad Habit’ campaign has been launched keeping this in mind and with an aim to bring in appropriate hygienic sanitation.”
Eminent people who endorsed & supported the campaign-
Padma shri Arunachalam Murugantham (the real Padman), Kalki Koechlin, Swara Bhaskar, Mimi Chakraborty, Shubhashree, Parno, Abir, Parambrata, Bonny & Member of Parliament- Sushmita Dev (who has filed a petition #taxfreewings…wherein she is fighting to make sanitary napkins tax free as it is not a luxury item)
Special thanks to our favourite RJ Abhishek for sharing the story with us