Brothers listening attentively during ‘Sponsor A Sister’ at Myna
“This Raksha Bandhan, Myna had a ‘Sponsor a Sister’ campaign. Not only is easy access to pads something every girl needs, but in India, where most girls don’t know that periods exist until they get theirs, a brother gifting his sister a 3-month period kit signifies something broader that girls are looking for— male respect and understanding.
In India, there is a serious ‘taboo’ around the topic of menstruation. A large part of this lack of acceptance comes from archaic notions that have been en-grained in the Indian society and culture for centuries together. Men are regularly taught that they are the superior sex and women are frequently subjected to a harsh set of norms often restricting them from chasing their dreams and achieving their goals.
These restrictions are particularly strict during menstruation. Typically, women are taught to be ashamed of their periods, banned from places like temples and their own kitchens, and discouraged from performing certain activities. Due to the role that the man plays in a typical Indian family, the act of a man presenting a female family member with a period kit is a step towards breaking these taboos where, traditionally, it is male family members who enforce them. If the man, as the ‘head’ of the family is able to address this topic, it goes a long way in allowing women to feel accepted, and helps them to realize that menstruation is natural and nothing to be ashamed about.
Myna’s ‘Sponsor a Sister’ program addressed this issue. In addition to providing brothers with these kits to gift their sisters, the brothers attended a special ‘Sponsor a Sister’ Period Education Session. Myna not only explained what menstruation is, but also delved into the taboos associated with it for women and how they, as men, can be allies to the women in their community to help them tackle these stigmas. This enabled them to understand periods and to learn that there is nothing ‘dangerous’ or ‘contaminating’ about them, and the very act of attending the session demonstrated a willingness to learn and overcome the social barriers that prevent this topic from being normalized.”
Jessica, UK, interned with Myna during her break. When she was in India, she expressed that she, herself found it difficult to get access to a Sanitary pad from a medical, and was glad that Myna produces Sanitary Pads. On observing and through the ‘Myna Speaks’19 Conference’ she found that ‘Menstruation in India’ is not the same as it is for her and other girls back home. For her, Sponsor A Sister was indeed a thrilled break through towards addressing ‘Periods’ to men in the society.