Indian women

Making periods normal - in India too

Girls and women all over the world menstruate every month. That is quite normal. It is surely part of being a woman. In the Netherlands women can just live their lives when having their period. For women in India this is often a different story. In the project ‘Making periods normal’ we will inform and educate women and girls in India about menstruating, improving their hygiene, and we create job opportunities by supporting production plants for sanitary pads in Bihar.

Sometimes girls are in school while they bleed. When they are unclean, they better stay at home.

Indian young man

Many Indian girls are shocked when they get their first period: ‘What is wrong with me? Am I ill, Am I dying?’ They simply do not know.

They haven’t been educated, not by their mothers, not in school, and not even by girl friends. Necessary information is hard to come by. 

Besides, that is just half the problem. Sanitary pads or other products for menstrual hygiene  are barely available in rural areas.

Most women and girls use unhygienic products such as old, unwashed saris and ash, which leads to a greater risk in infections, pregnancy related complications, and even irreversable physical  damage. These kind of health risks also lead to deprivation, because women become ill, and stay at home instead of going to school or work. 

What I don’t do when I’m having my period? I don’t go outside, I don’t cook and don’t fetch water. I don’t wash myself the first three days. 

Young muslim mother

Affordable sanitary pads

Since 2015 Rutgers is campaigning ‘Making periods normal’ together with Simavi and Women on Wings. We received 2 mill. Euros from the Dutch Postcode Lottery for this project.

We will implement it in the Munger and Bhagalpur districts in Bihar, aiming to: 

  • Make mentruation a topic of discussion and educate women and girls on their physical development and personal hygiene.
  • (Help) Set up small, local businesses in order to produce and distribute affordable sanitary pads. The production plants will create jobs for over 800 women who could also get a job in sales.This way supply and demand will go hand in hand.

In the Netherlands

For Dutch people it is almost unimaginable that Indian women have to face so many restrictions during their periods. “How? What? Huh?! is often the reaction. In the end of May 2015 we raised awareness with the campaign  ‘1Week Extra’  for these issues in India. Again working together with Simavi and Women on Wings.

1week Extra questioned what (young) women would do when having one week a month extra. Meant was that same week that women in India cannot take part in ordinary day-to-day life in their country, just because they are having their period. 

This campaign started just before Menstrual Hygiene Day (26 mei) with a performance of goodwill ambassador Sophie van den Enk on a tv-show. Apart from this, we raised awareness via Facebook, Twitter and remarkable posters at train stations. 

Targets

Together we will continue to work on realising the targets of this joint programme. The ultimate goal of the programme in India is to inform 660,000 girls and women in Bihar to realise better menstrual hygiene, give access to 165,000 girls and women to affordable sanitary pads via a local distribution network with female entrepreneurs, give 815 women work in that network and raise awareness among 200,000 boys and men about the importance of menstruation and menstrual hygiene.

The project is running until the end of 2017.