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Women Empowerment Begins with Individual Health and Hygiene

By auther pic. Divya Tiwari

April 7, 2021

Women Empowerment Begins with Individual Health and Hygiene

PAIL

According to United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Programme, 6.7% of the 1.2 Billion human populations in the Indian Subcontinent thrive below the poverty line as of early 2021. It is understandable that if a household is exerting its primary focus towards procuring basic meals twice a day and managing a roof over their head, the secondary areas of attention would be providing for their children’s education, increasing avenues of earning to be able to care for the elders at home, and help their family and friends in times of emergency or natural calamities. Personal health and hygiene would be the last on priority for the woman of the house if there are so many and pressing issues to cater to on a day-to-day basis.

 

The year 2020 has been arresting in various ways for the world. Not only have people been confined to their homes, but also the paucity of earning and sustaining themselves has given rise to an array of secondary ill-effects.  Women’s health issues are emerging as the most prominent of these concerns.

 

 

Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Program, the CSR program of Pritika Auto Industries Ltd

 

In times when the common Indian from any given marginalized community is beaten down by the pandemic and its ill-effects, we also find beacons of hope and light in forms for the CSR efforts of organizations. Pritika Auto Industries Limited is a Mohali based leading auto parts manufacturing organization in India. The automobile industry is lead at the forefront by males in India and thriving in a male dominated environment, seldom do we expect a CSR initiative focussing on the intimate health issues that vex the female community. Pritika Auto Industries Limited (PAIL) shines through the regressive mind-set of Indian males and has set new standards for any such male dominated industry or organization in India. The CSR initiative of PAIL, ‘Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Program’ is a very well planned and executed effort to genuinely help the rural women of our society.

 

 

 

Understanding the importance of imparting education on Health and Hygiene

 

Mr Raminder Singh Nibber, Chairman, Pritika Auto Industries Ltd. says the following towards this initiative.

 

“As an organisation we believe in putting people first. Besides acing our business goals, our organisation has never lost sight of its responsibility towards the society. We thought about this Program while planning CSR Projects of the company. This Program was unique and we felt that we need to take the initiative to increase conversation about the topic of menstrual hygiene. More people need to come forward and change the narrative. It’s everyone’s moral responsibility to make the women aware so that they can take care of themselves and their families. Being aware of basic hygiene practices is quintessential for well-being of everyone. 

 

Our aim is to transfer the benefits of our CSR Programs directly to the beneficiaries. We have associated with organisations that are working hard for bringing a positive change in the society. We are also carrying out breast cancer awareness programs for women in collaboration with Rani Breast Cancer Trust. We aspire to reach more women in the future through this Project.”

 

 

 

Dignity Kit distribution among rural women of Punjab

 

Pritika Auto Industries Ltd.’s CSR endeavour critically examined the need of personal health and hygiene of women in rural areas. Most women suffered the ill-effects of unhealthy menstrual hygiene practices due to lack of education coupled with financial crunch. This not only resulted in infections and prolonged illness but also resulted in cervical cancer in extreme cases. Therefore, the company partnered with an NGO, Rani Breast Cancer Trust (RBCT) as an Implementation partner for the project. RBCT actively works towards spreading awareness and aid women about Women’s health and hygiene issues, Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer. The Trust uses various methodologies like audio-visuals, pamphlets, awareness camps, and counselling sessions to help women understand the criticality of neglecting their health.

 

 

 

Explaining the complications in neglecting personal hygiene to rural women

 

Associating with Pritika Auto Industries Ltd. for supporting women of rural Punjab, the Managing Trustee of RBCT, Mrs Bittu Safeena Sandhu says, “There is a lot that needs to be done for women. Unfortunately basic hygiene is most neglected in women and it’s the most essential for health of women. They are not aware about the problems. People don’t like to discuss it openly. Basic hygiene is important for all, but for women it is more important to prevent private parts from infections. It’s the need of the hour. We should give emphasis on women’s hygiene. We are glad that RBCT in association with Pritika Auto Industries Ltd. is doing this Project. It’s like a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is also an accumulation of millions of drops.  We are glad that we are sharing information and giving dignity kits to women.”

 

 

 

Demonstrating to women on how to use the dignity kit each month

 

As part of the CSR program for the FY 2020-2021, Pritika Auto Industries Ltd. reached out to 2000 women of the 15 rural villages of District SAS Nagar in Punjab and 12 villages of District Una in Himachal Pradesh. The initial needs analysis survey results showed minimal awareness among women regarding their menstrual hygiene. Therefore, as part of Program Design 6000 ‘Dignity Kits’ were prepared to be distributed among the identified 2000 women. Each kit contained an information pamphlet, sanitary napkins, an underpants, and soap. One Dignity Kit is reserved to be distributed to one woman for a period of three months. 

 

The program was designed in three phases beginning from July 29th, 2020 till September 22nd, 2020 in Mohali. Each month 1000 women are provided with a Dignity Kit. Similarly, distribution was done for 3 months in Una from January 2021 to March 2021. During this distribution the women are counselled about the general health and hygiene practices to be adopted for their own benefit, washing hands with soap, the importance of a healthy diet etc. The women also share their experience of the change they experience by using the Dignity Kit. As the program was conducted during the Covid-19 era, all precautions of social distancing, masks, and hand sanitization were strictly observed.

 

 

 

Inauguration of the Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Program at Haroli, Una

 

The emotionally thought evoking testimonials from several women who were a part of the program are reassuring that the step taken by Pritika Auto Industries Ltd is indeed in the right direction. Women from marginalized sections of our society were overwhelmed that they were offered health and hygiene products and counselling.

 

One of the ladies who picked garbage for a living shared that she had been offered food on a few occasions but had never received anything that concerned her health. She felt that someone had cared about her health and had come forward to make her aware.

 

Another participant shared that she was unaware of the importance of using sanitary napkins for menstrual hygiene and will definitely apprise her daughter at the right age.

 

Taking inspiration from the women of SAS Nagar and Una, the organization has decided to take the initiative to other villages as well. This time the program will be organized in various villages with an increased number of 10,000 Dignity Kits distributed to women during the FY 2021-22.

 

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Impact-Story is a series on development and CSR interventions leading to some impacts on the ground. If you have a project, innovation or intervention that has changed the lives of a few people or a community, please share a brief note at shilpi@csrbox.org. Our Team will get back to you after validating the information for a detailed coverage.

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Author

Divya Tiwari is a seasoned content writer with over 20 years of work experience. She holds an MBA degree from IIM Indore along with Triple Masters Degrees in Development Studies, Media Business Management, and Philosophy. She has worked in various capacities with National and International NGOs, Top Corporates, and several Ministries for projects that range from Training, Capacity Building, E-Learning, to Media and Communications. She has written and hosted English programs for All India Radio, Delhi. Her deep interest in Animal Welfare helps her engage with various Animal Welfare Organizations across the country in various capacities. She is an advocate of a cruelty-free sustainable lifestyle and regularly blogs on related issues and solutions. Apart from her writing engagements, she is also a social entrepreneur helping rural communities take their craft to centrestage. She is based out of Delhi

 

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