IWB’s Campaign ‘Cold Period’ Introduces Menstrual Cups To Women Who Bleed In Public
- IWB Post
- December 21, 2017
It’s Christmas season and the year is ending, so we wanted to give back to society and help someone. While trying to figure out how best to make a difference to someone’s life, we realized that the cold is particularly unforgiving to the homeless, and even more so to homeless women who are on their period.
This is how #ColdPeriod was born, a campaign to help menstruating women living on the streets. The most obvious solution was to give them a packet of sanitary pads, but that is a temporary solution, which is why we decided to buy them menstrual cups and educate them about how to use it. A menstrual cup is supposed to work fine for over a decade, so this will hopefully help them through several period cycles.
To help IWB in this endeavor, eco-warrior Seema Pardeshi flew down from Mumbai and conducted informative sessions for these women. During this drive, we also distributed the Winter Period Packs among women, consisting of a menstrual cup, a warm shawl, a pair of woolen socks, an antiseptic soap, and some chocolates for their little ones.
Through her Mumbai-based NGO Ashay Social Group, Seema is working towards conserving the environment. Concerned about the bulk of period waste that is generated every day, she replaced pads with a menstrual cup and since then has been preaching its benefits to every woman she encounters.
She told us, “In March 2016, I read an article on menstrual cups in Loksatta (Marathi Newspaper), which was written by a Bangalore-based journalist, and that left me intrigued. The unfathomable damage that sanitary napkins cause to our environment struck me. I soon contacted that journalist and three months later, when she came to Mumbai, we met. And as it is with fruitful coincidences, from her I got to know of a woman in Mumbai, who was already working to promote the use of menstrual cups. In no time, I was at her door!”
She added, “A study has proven true that upon absorbing the vaginal fluid, the chemical used in pads forms a cancer-causing chemical dioxide, 0.25% traces of which is quoted to be present in every menstruating female’s body. As for the environmental factor, one should follow their garbage-picking truck one day and find out the repercussions of their ignorance themselves.”
She has also designed her own brand of menstrual cup, RUTU, which we distributed among the women. Explaining why she decided to do so, she said, “When I looked for them online, one menstrual cup was priced at approximately Rs 1,500. Not only could I myself not afford it, but I also could not ask others to use it, for the long-term cost-balancing dynamics couldn’t have been explained. So I found substitutes priced around 1000, and began to approach women through WhatsApp, encouraging and educating them about its use. And alongside I began my research for the making of a cup.” After a year of trial and errors, she had finally had a design in her hand, which would cost 555 INR.
Seema accompanied our team to a footpath near a city slum, where about 10 women between the ages 25-45 formed our first class.
“Didi, chhati fool jati hai aur dard hota hai mahavari ke samay. Aisa aapke sath bhi hota hai?”(During periods, our breasts swell and start hurting. Is it normal?”)
After Seema spent the first 15 minutes clarifying their basic doubts, she finally sat down to tell them about the menstrual cup. This gave rise to more queries:
“Do you also use it?”
“Will it infect my vagina in any way?”
Seema said, “I have been using menstrual cups for over 16 months now. It is not only extremely easy to use, it is also the healthiest choice you will make regarding your body.” She went on to describe the process of inserting the cup, emptying and washing it.
“Hold the bottom of the cup and fold one side of it using a finger. Gently insert it ensuring its mouth is completely inside your vagina. The folded cup will take its shape once it is inside. When you want to empty it, just hold the end of the cup which is still outside the vagina and pull it, softy. Remove the blood, wash with water and reinsert it,” she simplified.
“Didi, is water enough to clean it?”
“It is. Cold or lukewarm water is more than enough to keep your menstrual cup clean. When you’re not using it, tie it inside this small cotton cloth bag and keep it with you. Don’t lose it, okay,” Seema instructed.
During the open discussion, one of our concerned team members asked about their ways of disposing of the used cloth. To which, one of the eldest women sitting under the tree answered, “We either wash it or keep it under a stone. Later, the municipality group collects the garbage. The public dustbins are kept at a distance across the main road and therefore, we don’t prefer our women going that far.”
Seema then informed the women about the environmental damage that’s occurring due to period waste, which is beyond belief. “One menstrual cup can be used for about 10-12 years. It generates absolutely no waste and also saves a lot of money,” Seema declared.
Anvita from Team IWB added, “Moreover, it’s cold and you don’t want to go through a cold and wet period trauma, do you?” The younger ones shyly smiled and looked at their mothers and mothers-in-law before nodding a ‘no.’ Although most of them were shocked every time we uttered the words period, blood, pads, vagina, etc. in public, we’re truly amazed by the kind of response this group of women gave us.
It was interesting to see some of their husbands making guest appearances to understand the topic of discussion. While the inhibited women were shooing them away, our team encouraged the young sons and husbands to sit and be a part of the movement. Why it is important? Well, this man’s concern will answer your question – “I don’t want my wife to go through any kind of health trouble. The women in our community eat, sleep, and give birth to kids on the streets. They’re, in any case, prone to so many diseases. At least, their periods should keep them safe and healthy. I welcome this change.”
IWB is excited to take Cold Period to cities outside Jaipur, Rajasthan. Do you want to extend your help? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned to read about our other sessions on Jaipur streets.
You can contact Seema on 99300 25807.