IT’S NOT JUST A PIECE OF CLOTH #NJPC
Almost a decade ago we were shocked when we came across this ghastly story of a woman who died of tetanus due to a rusted hook in the piece of blouse she used during menses !! At that time we had no idea about the deep rooted relationship between cloth and menstruation. This story fueled us to go deeper into the non issue..
The Goonj team traveled across the country and found that in the absence of a clean piece of cloth, millions of women in villages and city slums use rags, sand, ash, etc. to deal with their menses..
- Many share the same piece of cloth with other women in the house as their menstrual cycles are different.
- Many women use the same piece of cloth for months till it tears off.
- Many women are forced to get their uterus removed at a child bearing age or face infections, risk of cervical cancer because of unhygienic menstrual practices.
- Women in cities and villages can’t even talk about their menstrual challenges in face of restrictions and taboos.
- Lakhs of women in cities and villages use cloth sanitary pads and millions do not even have that!!
Cloth – a viable solution!
A humble piece of cotton cloth can save a woman from a lot of indignity, embarrassment and infections. For generations, our mothers and grandmothers have used cloth during their menses. It is the most comfortable, convenient, scalable, available, affordable, acceptable, accessible and eco-friendly solution. A piece of cloth becomes a driving force for a lot of health related issues. Cloth is not a product but a tool to open dialogue with a woman. Cloth also solves bigger environmental problem of disposal in the process.
What does Goonj want to do?
For more than a decade now Goonj through its ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth’ initiative is working on two things; Make clean cloth available to women who don’t have any options. Second, it is using this cloth as an entry point into the lives of these women to create a space where they can talk about their challenges and make them aware about the related menstrual health and hygiene challenges. Goonj has also initiated thousands of open discussions to normalize this highly taboo and restricted issue !! Nearly 8 hundred thousand metres of cotton cloth converted into 4 million ‘MY PADS’ have reached women (across the country) as a solution to deal with her menses.
Why? The Aim
We strongly feel that the menstrual hygiene issue is much more than the various products in the market. Before we solve the three critical aspects of access to menstrual products, affordability of various options and awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, there is a fundamental aspect of making this issue normal, which is most important. That calls for a change in the larger eco system and mindset of our society. In the cities and villages we can make it normal only if urban women & men get involved on a deeper level of evoking a long-term awareness and empathy about the chasm in the resources (cotton cloth) between the two strata. That we hope will open more doors for civic participation.
You can do 4 simple things to change this..
- Start by giving 2 meters of cotton cloth to women who need it and share her story with us and the larger world
- Hold a Chuppi todo Baithak (Break the Silence) meeting on this issue with 5 women/men you know.. Let it be a platform to open up the issue of menstruation through simple exchange of experiences, emotions and challenges around menstruation. Link- Chuppi Todo Baithak (video / document or write to us)
- Create a Chain - Tag 5 men/women in your social media network to spread out the word. Don’t forget to hashtag #notjustapieceofcloth
- Organize a collection camp around cotton cloth for menstruation - write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about how we can do this together..