When Saturday arrived, we rushed through our content before letting Jyotsana Srivastava, the SETU program director, herd us into the dining hall. In the few minutes that the girls took to get settled, we struck up a general conversation to help break the ice.
Our talk began with a brief introduction about the content of our talk (which went along the lines of, “kya aapko pata hai hum aaj kis cheez ke bare mein baat karne aaye hain?”– “do you know what we have come to talk about?”) and received a chorus of the word “periods!”.
With a brief overview of what periods are and why they happen, our talk segued into the female reproductive system. With a little persistence from the girls, we elaborated on each of the four organs that make up the system. This inadvertently explained how menstruation is imperative in order to be able to give birth. In our eyes, this knowledge gives women a sense of clarity surrounding what occurs in our own body. Often, in cultures around the world, incorrect facts, myths, and taboos stem from this lack of knowledge– which is what we are trying to battle.
“Why don’t boys have periods?” was probably our favourite question towards the end of this session. Why shouldn’t they?
“What about some people who never get their periods?” — a challenging question because in order to explain the concept of infertility, irregular periods and not menstruating at all – we needed to take the session two steps further.
“What are the organs responsible for menstruation called? Where are they in our body?”– this was explained this with the help of a diagram which we used to point out our reproductive system.
The next section was divided into two parts: how to use pads and personal care.
We explained the importance of using pads instead of other alternatives like pieces of cloth and/or straw. Then we proceeded to show them how to use a pad with the help of a sample sanitary napkin and then briefed them on the disposal method that should be used for a pad.
In the personal care section, we shared five main points that were important for them to keep in mind for hygienic purposes:
- Use pads when on your period
- Dispose of pads properly
- Change pads every 4-6 hours
- Wash hands after changing pads
- Never forget to bathe when on your period
It was obediently repeated in their choral sing-song manner until we were satisfied with what they remembered.
The final section was introduced with the question: are you not allowed to do some specific things while on your period? And have you ever asked why?
We had an enthusiastic discussion on how most taboos do not have any logical reasoning behind them and how these stigmas have no actual scientific backing towards them. We told them how having periods did not make one ‘impure’ or ‘dirty’ in any way. We also played a game of ‘Chinese Whisper’ in order to show how a simple notion such as ‘one should rest during their period’ can turn to ‘do not enter the kitchen while menstruating’. The parallel was easily brought about when ‘I like chocolate’ evolved into something about pigeons after one round of the game.
Before concluding our talk, we still had one final thing to do. We asked the girls whether they had learnt anything new from the talk and if it was helpful to them in any way. They told us that they learnt about the ovaries and other organs which they had never heard of before but that a similar talk had already once been conducted with them before. So, in conclusion, our talk was successful in many ways even though most of the girls had already been briefed on this topic. What our talk did encompass was the social aspect of being in a woman’s body– a situation that can involve immense hardship in Indian society.
Meher from the REDefine Team