In Bangladesh, where discussing menstruation remains taboo, a group of high schoolers from Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC) decided to challenge the stigma surrounding periods. Their initiative, “Put a Period,” emerged as a non-profit organization striving to eliminate the discomfort and stigma associated with menstruation, with a particular focus on addressing menstrual inequity and period poverty.
Started in response to the prevalent challenges faced by menstruators in economically underprivileged areas, Put a Period aims to make menstruation more equitable by initiating open conversations about periods. Nahian Nawar, an executive head at Put a Period, explains that the organization conducts informative workshops in educational institutions and slums. These workshops not only dispel common myths and cover the biological aspects of menstruation but also create a safe and engaging environment for discussions.
Put a Period’s commitment goes beyond awareness. Through initiatives like Project Ranga, in collaboration with Ella Pad, the organization distributes period kits to vulnerable menstruators in economically disadvantaged areas such as slums. These kits, designed to last one to one and a half years, consist of six reusable pads, free-size undergarments, soap, and informational pamphlets.
Farhat Fatiha Chowdhury, another executive head, emphasizes the sustainability aspect of the project. The reusable pads, made from scraps sourced from garment factories, reduce environmental impact and provide an economically sustainable alternative for those who can’t afford disposable pads.
One notable success story involves Bithi, a house helper from Bhashantek Bosti, who played a crucial role in organizing Project Ranga installations. Community members who received the reusable pads reported feeling more comfortable than when using cloth napkins. The positive impact resonated, with residents eagerly anticipating the next distribution.
However, the journey for Put a Period has had its challenges. While organizing workshops in religious institutions like madrasas, the organization had to navigate conservative barriers while ensuring they conveyed comprehensive information about menstruation.
Nahian acknowledges the limitations of youth-led initiatives, stating, “With our limited funds and time, we can only reach so many people.” To achieve nationwide menstrual equity, Put a Period emphasizes the importance of government initiatives, calling for mass-scale grassroots awareness and infrastructural development programs.
Put a Period’s dedication to seeking feedback and continuous improvement reflects its commitment to addressing the unique needs of the menstruating community. While challenges persist, the organization remains optimistic about its mission, recognizing the pivotal role government entities must play in eradicating menstrual inequity and period poverty on a national scale.