Today I and Pragna were given a task of distibuting a pack of compostable pads to the female staff at my office for them to use and give a feedback. While Pragna held the bag, I collected their contact information and signatures. There were very few, 7 to be precise who openly accepted, spoke and held the pack without hesitation. More than 14 of them immediately asked for newspaper to wrap. I had to ask back the newspaper that I had held for support for signing. So much of shame and stigma is attached to sanitary napkins, to menstruation and with everything around it! While we tried to make them understand that it’s okay to openly hold a pack of pads, I also understand how difficult it might be for them and how easy it is for me to say considering the fact that menstruation is still not a topic that is openly spoken about since ages.
-One of them dropped it back into the bag and asked us to give it upstairs so that she can directly put it inside her bag.
-There were few who spoke multiple lines about how common it is to buy a pack of pad from a male at medical shop and that it’s okay but still chose to hide their packets with a newspaper. So many giggles when asked about their expected date of menstruation… #Adrallenide… #AadruNewspaperAlleSuttikodi
There was a male colleague who called it an ice cream and asked if he isn’t getting one.
There was one more who accepted one pack for his wife, heard the explanation and said that it’s result will come out in a month.
There was one more who wasn’t even ready to hold a packet and see for himself. #ItIsntATimeBombBro
And there is one Akka who is extremely extremely shy to whom I have challenged saying that before I leave this place I will make sure that she at least confidently holds a pad without feeling shy. That will be one of the markers to my PERIOD fellowship journey!
“ಅಕ್ಕ, ನಾನು ಹೋಗೊಷ್ಟರೊಳಗೆ ನೀವು ಎಲ್ಲರ ಮುಂದೆ ಪ್ಯಾಡ್ ಹಿಡ್ಕೊಳೊ ಹಾಗಾದ್ರೆ ನಾನ್ ಗೆದ್ಹಂಗೆ!”
I exclaimed and reached my other office and blurted in front of Sir saying “Saar nam office avrge firstu session tagobeku! Yavaga tagolodu Sir?” (Translated: Sir we should take a session for our own staff first, when should we sir?)
I also remembered one of our former CRPs(employed to conduct menstrual hygiene management sessions at villages) who had whispered in the ears to ask for a pad on the first day but next time she confident asked loudly and held a pad without hesitation! That’s the change that we could see after learning why and hows of menstruation and being vocal about it!
So,this became an unintended social experiment for me and Pragna Shekar today!
Blogged by Dr. Sushma MN during The Period Fellowship 2018 experience