Maheena.org is an initiative in order to sensitise and educate women and girls from different rural communities across India. Despite the progress that has been made in the technology used to address menstruation in the form of menstruation cups, tampons and pads, most girls remain unaware of menstruation itself, until their first menstrual cycle. Their lack of awareness often results in the disregard of hygienic practices when menstruating and as a consequence, health complications. In 2014, UNICEF reported that 79% of girls and women in Tamil Nadu lacked basic knowledge of menstrual practices. In Uttar Pradesh, this number was lower, at 66%, and it was even worse in West Bengal, where only 51% of the female population was aware. To tackle this problem, I began an initiative at a local level in September of 2020. As president of GirlUp JPIS, menstruation and through it, women empowerment were key issues my organisation aimed to tackle. I partnered with NGOs who helped me connect with underprivileged girls in order to have conversations with them online. Along with a gynaecologist (to answer any questions they may have), I helped educate over 200 girls belonging to different pockets of Delhi simply through a small laptop screen and an engaging presentation. I realised, I was able to make an impact when some of the girls began to open up to me. They reminded me that in many societies stigmas related to menstruation still exist. Girls not only lacked the knowledge of how to deal with their periods, they were also made to believe the wrong things. Each and every girl in India has the right to know aboutsomething that affects her every month, and I wanted to be able to tell her. But, I only speak Hindi and while that was effective in speaking to girls from my city, I couldn’t speak to Gunjan in Maharashtra and Lakshmi in Tamil Nadu. That is when Project Maheena was born.
My aim is to explain different aspects of menstruation visually. Videos ranging from topics about stigmas associated with menstruation to how to wear pads, and what to expect when you begin menstruation will be made in various native languages so that girls and women from lower socioeconomic communities can learn about menstruation through the click of a button – in languages they understand. Through the knowledge of trained professionals who speak these languages and would help make these videos, I will be able to create a platform that can answer the unasked questions that Gunjan and Lakshmi have, all while sitting at home