Ananya’s Mission To Break Taboos & Transform Menstrual Health in Rural India

In rural India, the condition of menstrual hygiene among women and girls is a pressing concern. Lack of awareness and knowledge about proper practices leads to the use of unhygienic methods during menstruation, putting them at risk of infections and reproductive health issues.

The culture of silence and shame surrounding menstruation exacerbates the problem, causing feelings of embarrassment and isolation. As a result, many girls miss school, leading to high dropout rates and limited educational opportunities.

To address these challenges, it is crucial to promote education on menstrual hygiene, provide access to hygienic products, and create a supportive environment that breaks down societal barriers. By empowering women and girls to manage their periods safely and openly discussing menstrual health, we can improve their overall well-being and educational prospects.

The Birth of Pragati Project

Witnessing her domestic help's daughter drop out of school due to menstruation, Ananya Malde, a 15-year-old resident of Bengaluru, was deeply moved to take action. The realization that more than 23 Million girls in India leave school each year due to menstrual challenges spurred her to establish the project 'Pragati.' Ananya aimed to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, specifically among girls in rural India, starting in her hometown of Gujarat.

Ananya recognized that proper menstrual education and access to clean and affordable menstrual hygiene products are vital components for addressing these issues comprehensively. Through her hard work, Pragati has made a significant impact, reaching out to girls in need, providing education, distributing sanitary pads, and promoting proper menstrual waste management.

Ananya's project, Pragati, serves as a blueprint for tackling the interconnected challenges of education, access to menstrual products, and menstrual hygiene awareness faced by girls in India. It emphasizes the importance of breaking the silence, providing education, and ensuring access to resources to empower girls, reduce school dropout rates, and create a healthier and more inclusive society.

Ananya's inspiring journey highlights the significance of open dialogue, education, and the availability of hygienic menstrual products in empowering girls and creating a more inclusive society. By addressing the dual challenges of education and access, she has demonstrated how one person's initiative can create a lasting impact on the lives of many. Her project, Pragati, not only provides immediate support but also lays the groundwork for sustainable change, setting an example for others to follow.

Impact Created

The impact created by Ananya Malde and her project, Pragati, has been significant, bringing about positive change in society. Through her relentless efforts and dedication, Ananya has successfully raised awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, empowering girls in rural areas and reducing the dropout rates caused by menstruation-related challenges.

One of the key impacts of Pragati is the education and awareness it has provided to girls in rural communities. By formulating a comprehensive curriculum on menstrual health in local languages such as Gujarati, Ananya has equipped girls with essential knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles. This education not only helps them understand menstruation but also dispels myths and misconceptions surrounding it. As a result, girls are more informed, confident, and empowered to manage their menstrual health effectively.

The distribution of sanitary pads made from straw and bamboo has also brought about a significant change. Through the distribution of these pads, Ananya has provided a practical solution that ensures girls have access to safe and hygienic menstrual products. This has contributed to improved menstrual hygiene practices and reduced the risk of infections.

Moreover, the installation of incinerators in schools demonstrates the focus on proper menstrual waste management. By promoting the safe disposal of used sanitary pads, Ananya has not only addressed the immediate hygiene concerns but also instilled a sense of environmental responsibility among the girls and the community at large.

Through Pragati, Ananya conducted awareness sessions and interacted with over 100 girls, formulating a comprehensive curriculum on menstrual health in three languages. Ananya's project gained recognition and support through her participation in the Future Leaders Programme by the 1 Million for 1 Billion (1M1B) Foundation. This opportunity allowed her to showcase her work and present Pragati at the United Nations, further amplifying her impact and spreading awareness of the importance of menstrual health.

Ananya's success and the impact of Pragati have not gone unnoticed. Her work has gained recognition both locally and internationally. Being honored as the 'New Yorker's Favorite' by the United Nations signifies the significance of her contribution and the change she has brought.

The success of Pragati serves as an inspiration for others, encouraging them to address social issues and make a positive impact in their communities. They have sparked conversations about menstrual health, challenged taboos and stigmas, and encouraged the community to prioritize the well-being and education of girls. By raising awareness and taking practical steps to address menstrual hygiene challenges, Ananya has paved the way for a more inclusive, informed, and supportive society that values the rights and dignity of every girl.

Going Forward

Looking ahead, Ananya Malde and the Pragati project have ambitious goals and a clear vision for the future. They aim to expand their reach and impact by extending their initiatives to more rural areas in India. Ananya envisions scaling up the project to reach a larger number of girls, providing them with vital menstrual education, access to affordable sanitary pads, and proper waste management facilities.

The future move of Pragati includes collaborating with more schools, community organizations, and government bodies to create sustainable and long-term solutions. Ananya plans to continue advocating for menstrual health at the policy level, ensuring that menstrual hygiene management becomes an integral part of educational programs and policies across the country.

The journey of Ananya Malde and the Pragati project is nothing short of inspiring. From witnessing the dropout of a young girl to taking bold steps toward eradicating the practice, Ananya's unwavering determination and compassion have led to remarkable achievements. Through Pragati, she has not only provided education and access to menstrual hygiene products but also instilled a sense of pride and empowerment in countless girls.


As the story of Pragati continues to unfold, it reminds us of the transformative power of empathy, education, and collective action. It encourages us to challenge societal norms, address pressing issues, and work towards a more equitable and inclusive world. Ananya's journey is a testament to the fact that anyone, regardless of age or background, can be an agent of change and create a lasting impact on society.


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