• हिन्दी
  • Login
  • Search
  • Close
    Looking For Something?

How Women-Led Paint It Red Is Improving Lives Of Menstruators Across India

Take a look at how Paint It Red is debunking myths around periods and helping menstruators in India.
  • Krati Purwar
  • Editorial
Published -12 Aug 2022, 15:27 ISTUpdated -21 Aug 2022, 10:38 IST
niharika sharma helping menstruating women

Menstruation is not only a taboo in India it also has several myths around it. While manoeuvring widespread misconceptions about periods there also arises the need to address the intersectionality of the issue - Trans and intersex inclusion, enabling the learning of diabled menstruators who might have unique learning needs and addressing chronic illness and its relationship to menstruation among other concerns.

With one in five girls dropping out of school when they start menstruating, period poverty in India is a serious issue. We need in-depth research and a cumulative approach to improve the lives of menstruators. We often hear about what a person must not do while menstruating and are forced to follow taboos ranging from “do not touch pickle”, “do not wear white”, to “do not step on religious and sacred premises”. 

Menstruators are seldom taught what menstruation actually is. We aren’t informed about how it impacts our hormones, mental health, and physiological well-being. Niharika Sharma and Ananya Chhaochharia co-lead Paint It Red to find solutions to these concerns. It is a social initiative that has been working towards improving the lives of menstruators across the country by providing them with educational interventions, sustainable sanitary products, training, and more.

“Our educational workshops address myths and taboos, shame associated with bleeding, and the relationship of menstruation with mental health, nutrition and more,” said Sharma.

Social & Emotional Learning

menstruating women

Paint It Red started as a small initiative and is now a full-fledged institution that has beneficiaries spread across 10 states including Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Her team has also worked in Uttarakhand, Delhi-NCR, and Maharashtra. They are hoping to expand in these states and work closely with schools and communities to impact better health outcomes and enable self-mastery.

So far, Paint It Red has impacted over 21,000 individuals. For workshops with young learners, the team follows the framework of social and emotional learning to enable the maximum takeback and value addition of skills such as empathy, mindfulness and self-compassion. For communities, the approach is interactive and light-hearted to get the information across in the most palatable manner.

Their menstrual kit comes with reusable sanitary pads, underwear, soaps, and other items that ensure that the needs of a menstruator are taken care of for 3 years. Their eco-conscious products ensure that needs are met without any damage being caused to the environment or adding on to non-recyclable waste.

Reminiscing about the experience with poor urban women in West Bengal, Sharma shared that since many were not the breadwinners and could not make financial decisions, they saved money on a monthly basis keeping it away from their husbands to cater to their need for sanitary pads.

“Menstrual products were not accounted for among the household needs,” she added. Therefore, her team conceived the idea of distributing reusable kits so that women no longer have to suffer for these basic necessities.

Women Empowerment

women empowerment

Listening to the stories of women not being financially independent, Sharma and Chhaochharia began a project to build capacities and impact the livelihood earning ability of their beneficiaries.

They educate menstruators and teach them to make sanitary pads of different kinds. They also provide training in marketing and vendor management. The idea is to empower women and other menstruators to build sustainable products and sell them on a larger scale. These trainees are, however, not restricted to working only with Paint It Red. Once skilled, they can open up to other companies where their skill can help them earn money.  

Debunking Myths

Myths and taboos vary across geographies. A unique one that Sharma has encountered in her work in Haryana is that “if a man or woman sees a used yet washed menstrual cloth, he/she would become infertile.”

Niharika pointed out that each region has its myth that has existed due to religious, societal, and cultural constructs. For example, numerous communities believe that menstrual blood is impure or bad blood. Bringing about behavioral change in such communities has been a slow but rewarding process for Sharma and Paint It Red. Her team follows a standard approach where they engage with empathy, logic, and the understanding that not all beneficiaries will want to change their beliefs and might just need more time to palate the information being given to them.

In trying to combat the myth of impurity being associated with period blood, they encourage people to critically think how period blood could be impure if it nurtures a baby, a life. Similarly, when communities say there is no relation between menstruation, mental health, and nutrition, the team uses a fact-based approach to help people understand things so they can cross-question age-old constructs and misinformation.

Don't Miss: Model Mukta Singh: Slaying With Grey Hair At 60

Catering To The Needs Of Intersex People

women going through periods

Sharma and her team started their journey by reaching out to women from minority communities. Later they discussed the idea of catering to the needs of menstruators who are not assigned female at birth (afab). They started to drive their initiative towards improving the lives of everyone suffering because of insufficient funds and access issues.

Don't Miss: Female Travellers Who Are Setting Travel & Freedom Goals

Now their educational workshops include kids between the ages of 10 and 18. They teach them that it is not only women who have periods and introduce them to the experiences of Trans and Intersex people among others who are often neglected within the menstrual health sector.

After surviving cancer, Niharika Sharma has become more determined to expand the Paint It Red initiative and help as many menstruators as she can in a bid to improve the world one person at a time.

Download HerZindagi App for seamless experience

Her Zindagi

Your skin and body like you are unique. While we have taken all measures to ensure that the information provided in this article and on our social media channels is credible and expert verified, we recommend you consult a doctor or your dermatologist before trying a home remedy, quick hack or exercise regime. For any feedback or complaint, reach out to us at compliant_gro@jagrannewmedia.com