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Lavanya Bahuguna

Blogger-in-Chief

Suhani Jalota, The Woman Revolutionizing Menstrual Hygiene, Remembers Her Moment With Queen Elizabeth

  • IWB Post
  •  May 15, 2018

Remember we narrated the story of a young girl named Suhani Jalota who’s making endless efforts to make underprivileged Indian women hygiene-conscious? She’s also one of the few non-royals invited to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding!

Suhani, a student of Duke University, founded Myna Mahila Foundation that not only makes pocket-friendly and skin-friendly sanitary pads but also helps uneducated women get rid of the menstruation-related taboos.

The girl was recently honored by none other than Queen Elizabeth II of England under the Queen’s Young Leaders Program 2016-17. We congratulated the girl and stole her few minutes from behind the royal stage to make her share the details of the prestigious event.

Suhani Jalota

Image source: Queens Young Leader 2017 Rianna Patterson

Read the excerpts below:

What was your reaction when you first got the news?

Stunned. I didn’t know what to expect and definitely did not realize this program would turn out to be so life changing.

What was the selection process like? Share a little about the organization and their mission to award new talent. 

The selection process was pretty straightforward: you apply online or are nominated and then apply, submit letters of recommendation, do a single or series of interviews and you’re done! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Trust, which manages and funds the Queen’s Young Leaders Program, has a mission to empower a new generation of young leaders and eliminate avoidable blindness. They are really committed to reaching their first goal by bringing youth from across the Commonwealth together and immersing them in the residential week to really get to know one another.

We can spot you sharing a light moment with the Queen on the stage, what were you talking and smiling about?

The Queen really wants to know everything – she is constantly beaming with energy. She asked about what I was doing and I explained about the importance of women empowerment through a discussion about their health and hygiene that we are tackling at Myna Mahila Foundation. She was surprised when I mentioned we were working in slum communities and wanted to hear a little more on it. Unfortunately, it was just a couple seconds (or brief minutes), but felt like a long time when I was there, as being with her was so nerve-wracking! I was smiling because it was a dream come true and I wanted to live the moment for my family, friends, and Myna who deserved to be there to receive this award.Suhani Jalota

How did your team react to the news?

Firstly, they all watched it on Facebook live (in the middle of the night). Since then, they have been showing the video to everyone who visits the factory, as a token of pride. They’ve made me proud, and do so every day, and this award belongs as much to them. They are honestly ecstatic and want to go next year to meet the Queen themselves! Can’t blame them for dreaming big – that’s what we teach them to do at Myna.

How will you be celebrating once you come back to India?

I’ll be celebrating by diving right into work with Myna. That’s what I learned from my amazing peers in the program. We had two weeks of extraordinary networking, events, and learning that accelerated our energy levels ten-fold. Now, I am more motivated than ever to tackle the issue of unemployment and poor health in slums, or join the parliament, or do just about anything! In the QYL program, we broke down barriers and revealed new horizons. Time to get going with all these ideas now!

Share something about the other inspiring awardees you got to meet and interact with.

These people are going to be the world’s future Prime Ministers, other Heads of State, CEOs, and biggest Philanthropists. I’m so inspired by them, as they strive to improve the lives of their communities with so much dedication, will power, and knowledge. I would love to be like them – and that’s when you know you’re surrounded by the right people! They are also incredibly humble. Though we came from 35 different countries, we all connected in our thought process and outlook on challenges. We feel the burden of the world’s problems on us. We feel the need to solve them and get restless if we don’t. We are compassionate and feel the pain of the people we work with. And most importantly, we are willing to do anything to make change happen.Suhani Jalota

Did you plan your look for the day? You looked stunning!

Thank you. Funny story – I didn’t exactly get the memo that we needed to dress “very traditional” on the day, so I wore an AND fusion dress that my mother had gifted me on my birthday. I knew she would love to see me in it, and that’s what really mattered for my look!

Suhani is now more determined to bring upon a change in the lives of the less-fortunate sections of the Indian society. After the event, the happy and effervescent girl immediately changed her Facebook profile picture where she can be spotted with the Majesty. An extract from the captions says – “Your Majesty, Thank you. Thank you for showing me how there is no slowing down. That even after 63 years, you can still Queen the world.”

This article was first published on July 19, 2017.

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