Two women, one mission – raising awareness on menstrual hygiene

Going onward with our series which aims to highlight various campaigns and causes undertaken by women, we bring to you the story of two crusaders who work not only provide sanitary napkins, but also disposal mechanism for it. Although, their journeys are separate their goal is the same – to ensure that each girl can access sanitary pads

Bharti Lavekar n patil-eng

Bharti Lavekar is a well-known name in social circles and organisations which work toward improving the lives and health of women.

MLA Bharti Lavekar’s ‘Tee Foundation’ had adopted 52 BMC schools in Mumbai with an aim to promote menstrual hygiene and sanitation. And apart from distributing sanitary pads, a disposal pouch was also given to girls as disposal is a major issue.

Bharti Lavekar had started a first sanitary napkin bank in Mumbai last year on May 28, 2017. It is the country’s first ever sanitary bank.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Lavekar said, “As part of a survey, we had visited certain areas. The survey findings revealed that even in a like Mumbai, women who were living in slum areas, used a cloth during the days of their menstrual cycle. Some of them were unaware about sanitary pads, and others could not afford it due to its cost.”

After getting to know this, through the ‘Tee Foundation’ she helped in providing them sanitary pads. Tee Foundation works for the welfare of women and children.

Anyone who is willing to donate sanitary pads can come forward and send them to the ‘Tee Foundation.’ We donate them to whoever makes a demand for the sanitary pads. The demand and supply is kept constant so that women can access sanitary pads.

Women use these sanitary pads. But the big question which hangs around is, how to dispose these pads in a proper manner? For this very purpose, Lavekar installed disposal machines at certain spots in Mumbai.

Another woman who has relentlessly worked for women and menstrual hygiene is Bharti Patil. Patil who is a resident of Nagpur, ensures that women in rural area are able to access sanitary pads. She provides free sanitary pads to girls in school. Patil has also installed disposal machines at the school. But, the disposal machines did not see a favourable response from the students. They would also fear to throw used sanitary pads in the trash as they felt that someone would watch them and say something.

She is a member of the Nagpur Panchayat Samiti. She is a mother and has two teenage daughters of her own.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Patil said, “I have two schoolgoing daughters of my own, there would ask me where could they dispose their pads? What do we do about them?”

She added, “We thought about making a paper bag of the disposal of the sanitary pads. We made a paper bag with a red marking upon it. So that it could be thrown in the rash. I felt that apart from my daughters, this humble idea could benefit many girls. That is why, I began to go various schools and inform girls about it.

Patil informed, “I make them aware and guide them about all aspects related to menstrual hygiene from how to use a sanitary pad, how to maintain personal hygiene how to dispose them, etc. I also answer any questions that they have about this subject. So far, I have visited around 22 to 23 schools. Through the medium of the Samvardhan Mahila Bhachat Gat, we distribute the paper bags for the disposal of sanitary pads. This initiative has garnered a positive response and has got the support of the principals and students. We will now take this venture forward to other schools.”