'Chuppi Todo Baithak': A Story from Sundarbans

Goonj with its 'Triple A' approach towards menstruation has been addressing the challenges of accessibility, affordability, and awareness with communities, where everyone is a stakeholder.

Anshu GuptaAnshu Gupta   11 April 2022 6:29 AM GMT

Chuppi Todo Baithak: A Story from Sundarbans

Goonj has been helping women manage their menstruation in the far-flung villages of India. All photos: Goonj

"We never talked about menstruation, health and hygiene. During my childhood, I generally used cloth only because of my socio-economic condition. But when I started using Goonj's MY Pad, I found it so hygienic and comfortable. Not just me but many women and girls are using these now." Durga Seal, a participant from the village Vidyasagar Pally, one of the interior locals of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, shared her experience with a Goonj Team member during the Chuppi Todo Baithak.

'The Chuppi Todo Baithak' (CTB) or Break the Silence Meeting, as the name suggests, is a safe space created for deep listening and dialogue, for communities to share their experiences and journey around this normal physiological process called menstruation.

Goonj has been working towards bringing the spotlight to issues around menstrual health and hygiene. We have been reaching out to thousands of women under our 'Not Just a Piece of Cloth' (NJPC) initiative, since 1999 for talking about the subject, which further leads to involvement of the participants to solve their infrastructural needs around it.

Break the Silence Meeting is a safe space for communities to share their experiences around menstruation.

When we initiated the discussion on menstruation with these women, they felt shy in the beginning. But the frequent interactions helped them overcome the uneasiness and start talking about it.

Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause are times of increased nutritional demand. Thus, 50 women from this community came up with the idea of a kitchen garden to ensure the availability of nutritious food. Goonj provides them with seeds to solve this issue. It will not only ensure a healthy diet but also help them secure savings.

The larger aim is to bring the agency of menstruators (women, girls, trans men and all others who menstruate) to solve their problems around menstruation. The community uses local solutions and local wisdom, while Goonj plays the role of mobiliser and motivator.

These women came up with the idea of a kitchen garden to ensure the availability of nutritious food.

Goonj with its 'Triple A' approach towards menstruation has been addressing the challenges of accessibility, affordability, and awareness with communities, where everyone is a stakeholder. With a holistic lens towards menstruation, we have been addressing the nutritional needs, building safe spaces, and access to safe and clean water to help women manage their menstruation in the far-flung villages of India.

From April 2020 to March 2021, several community lead infrastructure activities were conducted which included 1,700 plus for construction, repair and cleaning of water bodies, 1,500 plus for nutrition gardens, 700 plus for construction and repair of private spaces, with over 2,000 other sanitation related activities.

"When half the humanity is women, Menstruation can't be a women's issue…it's a human issue"

Anshu Gupta is Founder of Goonj and Gram Swabhimaan. Views are personal. Know more about Not Just A Piece of Cloth: www.goonj.org/njpc/

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