At a time when even our government thinks of menstruation as a monthly luxury and refuses to remove the tax slab applied to it, we have, Sobhan Mukherjee, a 21 year old college going boy, who at such a young age has taken the responsibility of providing free sanitary napkins to public toilets, so that women are not at a loss in times of immediate need.
Sobhan has not only superseded his age by working on such socially sensitive issues which are normally considered a taboo to even talk about in public, but he has gone a step ahead by working towards the well being of two other genders.
Recently, his first social initiative that became quite the talk of the town was the set up of public toilets for trans-people called Tridhara. After the success of that campaign, he shifted his attention to the much-hyped-less-cared-about problem of access to sanitary napkins to the large population of women. His newest initiative is called ‘Bandhan’ that has started just 3 months after the Tridhara campaign.
The stigma associated with menstruation and the social awkwardness experienced by females has made it a tough job to work upon this initiative, but Sobhan was hell-bent on doing his best to make things a little easier.
Team Beacon Kolkata caught up with this inspiring youth to understand the reason behind such amazing social initiatives.
“This idea came to mind when one of my female friend had related an incident where she was out for some work and had to leave the work midway and return home due to an immediate need of a sanitary napkin. This got me thinking, and since I was already working on Tridhara (accessibility of public washrooms transgendered people), so I thought why not use the public washrooms to provide something important and necessary for the females of Kolkata … the idea of sanitary vending machine is available in many girl schools but that is not the only place where there is a need for such machines, so I thought of making it more publicly accessible,”
– Sobhan Mukherjee.
Team Beacon Kolkata- Where in Kolkata, is this facility available?
Sobhan Mukherjee– Presently, this initiative is in a nascent stage so there is a small box containing a few sanitary napkins available in only five public toilets that are strategically placed in ward 112, Bansdroni area of Kolkata; with the support of the councilor Anita Kar Majumdar; but the aim is to make it available all over Kolkata and serve as a model of development and inspiration all over India.
BK: What is the response that you have received?
SM: After working on both these social initiatives, there was one thing that I realized; that the mentality of people here, have to change, only then will there be a positive long-term change.
What I really liked a lot is that though I am working towards the benefits of girls, but I am getting a lot of support from the transgender community and I hope that they get equal support from both the other genders in times of need.
I have also received a lot of negativity from people who don’t understand the cause but then I only concentrate on the positivity that I get from so many females regarding this initiative.
My family has been of a special support to me in both these initiatives.
BK: Do you have any future initiatives in mind?
SM: There are a few things that I want to improve about the public toilet scenario. Firstly I want to ensure cleanliness and secondly I want to ensure proper doors in female washrooms. I also have become aware that the stickers used to symbolize washrooms have a male first and a female placed second; I really want to work on changing that pattern. So I hope that I get more support in all these further initiatives.
We wish Sobhan all the best for his good social deeds!