After reaching ANK, an organization situated in corner of a small village in Noida, we familiarized ourselves with the girls at the school. Surveys proved to be the most helpful when it came to finding common ground as it provided both, us and the audience, a sense of familiarity and a basis to help our talk. Click here for the results of the survey.
This time we changed the formation in which we give our talks. Our aim was for the audience to view our talk as a “discussion” rather than a “lecture”. In order to change their perspective, we decided to sit in a circle. The new seating arrangement helped us attain a comfort level that would help our points be conveyed with impact.
Although we have incorporated poster-based visuals in our talk in the past, this was the first time we made a presentation which solely consisted of pictures: the female reproductive system, a silhouette of a woman, pad companies, and a pad.
While conducting the talk, we observed, with admiration, that these girls were much more aware and responsive compared to the ones at our earlier talks. Usually, when we address taboos, the girls remain silent or are very tense. At ANK, many girls spoke up and shared anecdotes where they questioned authority in relation to periods. One girl, in fact, debunked a few taboos before we could. “Inme koi logic nahi hai, pehele vigyaan nahi tha iseliya unki soch aise thi”, she said, conveying that these taboos came into being due to the lack of scientific knowledge. Although their views were very forward, when a male teacher entered the room they lapsed into silence once more.
One girl asked about women who do not get their period. When told that these women are not able to give birth, uncomfortable murmurs in our audience told us this topic was viewed with a negative connotation. For future talks, we decided this matter needed to be addressed in a way that allows girls to be proud of having periods, as well as being understanding or and comfortable with not getting their periods.
While giving the talk, we unintentionally directed a lot of our talk to the more responsive girls in the circle. Those who were too shy to ask questions out loud directed them to a member of the group who was sitting near them. This cross-talk caused girls to stop paying attention to the central talk. and individual conversations. We made a mental note to set some guidelines to follow before the talk: ask questions when we give you time to and although we respect private questions, they should be voiced out because other girls might have similar questions. Besides, the more everyone knows, the better.
Some girls were hesitant to touch or pass around the pad that we were using in our demonstration of how to use and dispose pads. Despite us insisting that they were clean and that they would have to use them one day or another, a few girls simply didn’t want to come near it. This is a phenomenon we have noticed repeatedly. Every time, we try to improvise different ways to acquaint them with sanitary napkins and although we grow more successful, we have never been 100% so.
Overall, the talk was incredibly successful and will definitely be one of the most memorable ones. By the end of the talk, we all were really comfortable with each other and the girls weren’t afraid to ask us any questions. Our new format and visual aids too proved to be successful and this opened options for our presentations in the future. The fact that they shared personal experiences was really appreciated. In fact, we were cordially invited to spend Bakr Eid with the girls!
Remember to check the out the fantastic work the ANK Foundation is doing:
Ritika from the REDefine Team