There is no denying that the lockdown has affected the underprivileged people in the country the most. While struggling for food, shelter and other necessities, women’s menstrual hygiene issues seems have taken a backseat, as always. A conversation with their househelp made Tia Poovayya and Niketa Khanna, two 16-year-old girls from Bengaluru, realise that not many people are trying to provide sanitary products to the women migrant labourers who are stuck away from home and are jobless because of the pandemic. They started an initiative Aurat Aarogya to help women get access to sanitary napkins and other personal hygiene products in Bengaluru.

SheThePeople.TV caught up with these two teenagers to know more about their endeavour.

How is Aurat Aarogya helping women amidst lockdown?

“We have distributed 1,000 kits and have just dispatched another 1,000. These kits contain sanitary napkins, shampoos and soaps. Our aim is to help women in need. By distributing these kits, we are helping women who do not have enough money to buy necessities like sanitary napkins. These are women who have lost their jobs due to lockdown. These women are migrant workers living in Bangalore,” says Niketa Khanna.

 

What Inspired them to do this?

“My house-help came to my mother during the lockdown. She asked her for some sanitary napkins because she could not get any,” says Niketa. “This made us realise that although there are several NGOs and volunteers working to provide food and dry ration to the poor amidst lockdown, there are not many people who are devoted to this cause (providing sanitary hygiene products), not any I know of. We saw so many people helping others during the lockdown in some way or the other. We wanted to help the people who help us. We knew we had to do something so we decided to step up Aurat Aarogya,” adds Tia.

Also Read: Period Hacks: Simple Solutions To Prevent Discomfort During Travel

How did they raise the funds?

“We sent a WhatsApp message to our friends and reached out to people through Instagram. Initially, we got contributions only from people we know. But soon we started getting a good response from people we didn’t know. We were not expecting such a great response but thanks to their generosity, we could help so many women around Bangalore. We have raised over 1.5 Lakh rupees by far,” says Tia.

We were not expecting such a great response but thanks to their generosity, we could help so many women around Bangalore. We have raised over 1.5 Lakh rupees by far.

The difficulties faced

“Our board exams got postponed so we had a lot of time in our hands. That was an advantage for us. But one major difficulty was getting the goods transported amidst the lockdown. We had to pick up stuff to get it packed in kits and make sure that it reaches the right people. But the police was really helpful and co-operative, they gave us passes amidst the lockdown so that we can pick up the things,” says Niketa.

On being asked about how these kits reach people, they share, “The Police has identified migrant workers and daily wage earners around Bangalore. They guide us to these people and we go with them to distribute our kits. The police has been really helpful. They helped us to make this project happen,” adds Tia.

Also Read: If Your Periods Have Been Weird During Lockdown, You Aren’t Alone

What is next?

“We plan to help women even after the lockdown is over as well. In fact, after lockdown, we will be able to help in better ways because there will be no fear of the virus and no travel restriction. Still, there are women who use cotton clothes and wash it and reuse it. This can lead to infection and other diseases. We are thinking of distributing cloth pads because those are eco-friendly,” says Tia.

Niketa further adds, “We intend to spread awareness among women about menstrual hygiene and its importance. Menstruation is a very hush-hush topic and talking about periods is frowned upon. We want to make it easier for women to talk about it and understand that periods are natural. We are thinking of more ways we can help and we will keep adding on things that we can do.”

Also Read: 62% Of Young Indian Women Use Cloth For Periods: Survey

Ayushi Aggarwal is an intern at SheThePeople.TV

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