Menstrual Hygiene Interventions in Rural Areas by Project Baala Benefits Over 3 Lakh Women
For many of us, menstruation is a normal process that occurs every month. While we might suffer from minor annoyances such as pain and discomfort, it doesn’t usually have an impact on our personal and professional development. However, for many girls in the world, this is not the case.
When it comes to menstrual hygiene and health, it has been seen that women and girls living in rural areas, urban slums, shelter homes, and economically poor households face multiple challenges ranging from lack of awareness to lack of access to safe menstrual products.
Menstruation prevents them from going to school or to work, and sometimes from performing daily activities like cooking, exercising, or even staying in their homes.
According to the National Family Health Survey, out of 33.6 crores, menstruating women in the country only 36% are using sanitary napkins, locally or commercially produced. The others use unhygienic methods like cloth or locally prepared napkins.
Challenges surrounding menstruation
Lack of access to information:
In India, only 48% of adolescent girls are aware of what menstruation is before getting their first period. Young people do not have access to reliable and correct information about their reproductive health and rights. A lack of scientific knowledge about menstruation also gives way to myths and misconceptions.
Patriarchal social structure:
The social fabric in rural areas is more men-oriented; women's individuality and needs come second. There is even lesser sensitivity concerning women’s sexuality and physiology.
How does one break the notions on a matter if the people are silent over it? Menstruation remains one of the most prominent taboo subjects.
Lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and facilities:
Menstruating women and girls in India often face challenges in accessing menstrual hygiene products due to several factors such as a lack of agency among girls and young women, unavailability of hygiene products, poverty, and social norms.
To ensure every woman has access to affordable and sustainable practices, Project Baala was launched. They are an innovative menstrual hygiene solutions provider that aims to disrupt the existing space of menstrual hygiene.
The enterprise seeks to get rid of the relationship of donor-beneficiary, an otherwise existing equation in the social sector, and transform that into an organization-user experience, thereby eliminating dependency and empowering women to be independent.
Project Baala and its impact
Launched in 2016, Project Baala offers many different types of engagement models, each customized according to the focus community and the partner organization. They conduct awareness campaigns, engage employees, provide illustration handbooks & digital content and generate livelihood opportunities for women through innovative reusable sanitary pads.
They make an impact through a three-pronged intervention model:
Spreading awareness through menstrual hygiene workshops.
Distributing technically designed reusable sanitary napkins that can be used for up to 2 years.
Empowering women to access supplementary income through selling reusable sanitary napkins.
To spread awareness on menstrual hygiene and to make sustainable period products accessible to girls in need, Project Baala partners with District Administrations, Corporates, Institutions, and NGOs.
In 2021, the organization worked along with the District Administration of Moga, Punjab, to implement a 20-day Menstrual Hygiene Management intervention. The intervention included 2 prongs- a series of menstrual hygiene workshops as well as distribution of Baala’s reusable sanitary napkin kits in Government Senior Secondary and High Schools. A total of 19,795 kits were distributed across 161 schools over 5 days.
Similarly, 267 schools and 75,000 women and girls in Alwar District have benefitted from awareness campaigns, books, and reusable pads. Apart from this, Project Baala operates several such projects throughout the year.
Project Baala believes in the power of partnership and thus forms collaborations and associations with several Corporates and institutions to disburse interventions at the school level, factory level, office level, district, and state level. Depending on the vision of the partner and the needs of the identified community, interventions are customised thereby ensuring sustainable outcomes.
Since its inception, Project Baala has delivered interventions across the globe including in India, South Africa, Tanzania, and Nepal. The organisation has impacted over 350,000 girls and women, and distributed over 1 million sustainable period products, thereby preventing 91 million plastic pads from entering landfills.