Located in the populated Shivaji Nagar rehabilitated colony, the Myna factory stands as a safe haven for the team of women that works there. Because it is so important for Myna to work from the slum itself and with the women that live there, Myna felt the need to give back to the surrounding community. Moreover, Myna wanted to reassert its work, to make it more visible to the very community it shares the land with. This is how the idea of a “Myna shop” came up. Suhani Jalota, Myna Mahila’s founder, started to ask for donations. It did not take long for our storage room to end up filled with clothes, shoes, children games, books, and even printers! Our team worked for a couple of days in order to sort out all the items and to organize them into different categories.
Because the idea of the Myna shop was to sensitize the women of the community to our work and to menstrual hygiene, we created a little tag that was added to each available item. Each tag displayed Myna’s on its front and our delivery number as well as a 10% discount on the back, to encourage women to purchase pads for their periods. This is also why we chose to display all the range of our products in the same room of the donation ones. Thereby, the customers could have a look at what products were available and ask our team to clarify some points if they had any interrogations.
We thought that simply displaying the pads would not cover the entire task of sensitization, and thus we thought that decorating the shop would be of great help in raising awareness. The entire Myna team participated in the ornamentation of the shop. The purpose had to be dual, not only should the Myna shop feel welcoming, but it should also convey Myna’s message about healthy menstruation. We decided to organize two sessions with the Myna women, in order to reflect on what should be added to the shop. The first time, we gathered the women in the storage room and asked them to produce a poster on which they could say whatever they wanted about Myna. Each of them wrote a nice sentence about their job or the Myna shop and made it as creative and artistic as possible. The second time, we divided them among 4 groups and gave them wide poster and illustration images that they had to use to produce periods related poster. Some of them wrote about empowerment with slogans such as “Let’s talk. Period.”, while others produced detailed instructions on how to use and how to dispose of pads.
On the 27th of January 2018, around 11am, we opened the Myna shop for the community. Archana and Debora were just finishing to set up the shop while women were already gathering outside. Having advertised in only a small compound of the slum, we welcomed around twenty women to the shop. They were allowed to take as many items as wanted. If they wanted to purchase pads, they could also use the discount that was given with the attached tags to the clothes. Archana was in charge of noting on the office computer who had taken what item as those were given symbolic prices, as well as who purchased pads, in order for us to gather insights on our initiative and the community’s response. This is how we noticed that the women were most interested in taking children related items, such as clothes or games.
At the end of the day, the Myna shop was a great experience which enabled us to open up a conversation with the community. Women and children left the Myna compound with new clothes and games and were delighted to learn more about our work.
We are looking forward to new donations, especially for children, in order for the shop to reopen as soon as possible and for other women of Shivaji Nagar to benefit from it!