"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style. Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently."
– Maya Angelou
Having worked in the development space for about 5 years now, I have committed a large part of my energy and mind space to address pressing challenges faced by people around Rajasthan. I was amongst the founding members of Global Citizen India in 2016, wherein we chose three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to focus on. They were water, sanitation and hygiene. I have become increasingly aware of the plight of young girls contending with school dropouts, urinary tract infections, anaemia and so on due to a lack of education on menstrual hygiene and the taboo around it. This cause has particularly stirred my attention and I pledged to contribute my energies towards bettering it.
During the current pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, women have borne difficulties, especially hygiene-related ones. During the first phase of the lockdown, sanitary pads were not even recognised as an essential item! Not only did this cause an acute shortage in the rural belts of India, but also the well-connected urban centers. It is easy to ascertain the hardships it would have caused in sub-urban and rural areas. As the larger parts of India step into the monsoon season, women using old pieces of cloth as reusable pads will only find it harder to wash and dry them without posing themselves with a serious risk of infections.
As per a 2014 report, there were as many as 35.5 crore menstruating girls and women in all of India. Given the rapid rise of population, it is safe to assume that in the years since the report was generated, these numbers have risen significantly.
I have collaborated with three different non-profits (BG Foundation, BGIF and MasksforIndia) to provide hygiene kits to families in rural Rajasthan, particularly in Khuri- my ancestral village in the Sikar district. The purpose of this hygiene campaign is twofold. One, to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene and government guidelines on the correct use of sanitation such as face masks and hand-washing. Two, to provide free hygiene kits to the women of these rural families as it has been observed that more often than not, they have ensured that children and older members of the family receive supplies. Each kit contains an average of 4-5 face masks; one for each family member. So far, I have distributed over 300 kits to young girls and women in the Jaipur & Sikar districts, and continue to work towards the cause.
Video courtesy: Shaurya Garjana
Image, and content courtesy: Devika Shekhawat