#Personal Stories

How Rajpal Kaur Is Helping Break Menstrual Taboos And Create Jobs For Women

break menstrual taboos
Rajpal Kaur on helping break menstrual taboos: My name is Rajpal Kaur, and I hail from the village of Aloona Tola near Ludhiana in Punjab. Until a few years ago, my life was similar to that of other women in the village — I spent most of my time on household chores and familial duties.

I always yearned to become financially empowered and independent. I was not able to realise this dream till well into my adulthood, but, as they say, it’s never too late to start. It was in 2018 at the age of 34 that I managed to secure a job as a cook at the RoundGlass Foundation based in Punjab. I was very happy to be tasked with cooking meals for children. I was earning INR 8,000 per month, which went a long way in supplementing our household income.

Having experienced first-hand how this financial wellbeing improved my life, I wanted other women in my village to get similar opportunities for self-employment. Aside from empowering these women, I was also thinking about the future of my daughter. I didn’t want my daughter, who is growing up fast, to be just a homemaker due to lack of opportunities. I believe that women’s capacity to work is equal to, if not higher than, that of men, but society doesn’t give us enough opportunities.

This is why, I was excited when I heard in April 2019 that the foundation I was working for was planning to set up a sanitary pad-making unit in Aloona Tola. I rounded up all my women friends and took them to their office to understand more about the project. At that time, the women of Aloona Tola didn’t even know what sanitary pads were, and years of social conditioning and stigma around menstruation made them embarrassed to be part of a venture like this.

However, I convinced some of them to join me by explaining how the project would not only provide them with employment opportunities but also improve their menstrual hygiene and health by giving them access to affordable sanitary pads. Eleven of us formed a self-help group (SHG) with the help of the Foundation — five SHG members operated the pad-making unit while the others launched a pickle-making venture. While initially the foundation funded the infrastructure, the goal is to make these ventures self-sustaining.

At that time, the women of Aloona Tola didn’t even know what sanitary pads were, and years of social conditioning and stigma around menstruation made them embarrassed to be part of a venture like this.

Initially, we had to give away pads for free. But things have started looking up slowly and we are receiving bulk orders now. It’s hard to describe the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment I feel at being financially independent. I am now the president of the SHG and take great pride in how our small team takes decisions collectively and works together to improve the lives of women in Aloona Tola. We also try to reach out and help other women and village residents in any way we can. For instance, we provided free meals and masks to the villagers during the COVID-19 lockdown. We collaborate with the Foundation to arrange training in sewing, pickle-making, etc, so they can become financially independent.

It is a joy working for an organisation with such a vital mission and I can only pray that they are successful in all their future endeavours.

 As narrated to Prerana Langa of RoundGlass foundation. The views expressed are the author’s own and not that of SheThePeople.

Picture Credit: Roundglass Foundation