The Survey at the ANK Foundation

Here are the results we collected from the survey we conducted at the ANK Foundation.

Two young boys guided Tara and me through the narrow, winding lanes of a little village in the middle of Noida. Tucked away behind a wall, the community buzzed in and out of local shops and living quarters. We crossed a marble mosque which shone a marvelous green in the middle of the comparatively colourless We grew slightly nervous with each step. How would the girls react? Would we be able to successfully explain our aim to them? Will we get credible results and be able to control any complications that might occur? Considering there were only two members, the possibilities were endless.

 ANK is an NGO designed to help provide learning facilities to children all over Delhi/NCR who aren’t able to afford or have access to quality education. In order to achieve this, ANK has created learning centers to promote their goal, and that was where we went. We entered a dark classroom adorned with colorful posters and met eleven girls who were hastily explained who we were and what we were there to do. As soon as the word ‘period’ was uttered, coy glances were shared; a response we’d become painfully familiar with.

The ritual hunt for pens and pencils and the search for comfortable places to sit preceded answering the survey. Our first problem would soon become a frequent visitor to surveys we’d conduct in the future: the students began to discuss their answers. We explained to them that the point of the survey was to establish some solid background information for our talk, but it is something that we should have kept in mind. We happened to be the least proficient in Hindi but it was a manageable situation. The students did their best to answer, and were not hesitant to call us if they did not understand any word or question. We were able to wrap up the survey in 20-30 minutes, and as the children cheerfully waved us goodbye, we were excited to see how the talk with ANK would go.

Here is the data we collected from the survey:

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Question 17

Stick around!

Jhanvi from the REDefine Team

The SETU Survey: Our Results

The survey we conducted at SETU was the first draft of a set of question that are still in the works.

Out of a total of 39 girls who gave the survey 24 girls knew what periods are while 15 did not. Additionally, majority of the girls (66.6%) attended school while only a few said that they missed school while on their period. Most of the girls at Setu utilize pads while on their periods while only one uses cloth. And, almost all the girls first heard about periods and menstruation from their mothers but none of them spoke only to their fathers about it. However, two girls said that they were introduced to it by both their parents together.

Some of the different responses to the taboos and myths that the girls face include: not being allowed to eat sour/spicy food, not being allowed to enter the temple, not being allowed to make physical contact with others, not being allowed to wear tight clothes, not being allowed to enter the kitchen or take any medicine.

These are the results for our survey:

Question 1 SETU Survey Data
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Question 2 SETU Survey Data
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Question 3
Question 4 SETU Survey Data
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Conducting the Period Survey with the SETU Girls

The first “Period Survey”, as we call it, was conducted with the girls of SETU Shikshajyoti Kendra in Noida. Here’s a post on our experience.

As we walked through the busy shops towards the SETU Foundation’s Shikhshajyoti Kendra, our eagerness was palpable. Armed with our 60 printed surveys, we were excited to meet the girls and to hit another milestone – the REDefine Campaign’s second collaboration! This was the first time we had visited the school, and all in all,  it was truly an endearing yet eye-opening experience.

The SETU Foundation is an organisation which helps promote the growth and learning of the youth of India, especially for the girl child. As we walked through the gates of their school in Noida, we were impressed by its sheer size and the immediate warmth of its environment.

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We walked into the office of the Program Director of SETU Foundation, Ms. Jyotsna Srivastava, who the team had been in contact with. She suggested that we first have a look around the classrooms to acquaint ourselves with the students and school. She also suggested we do the survey for the girls from grades six to ten.

We divided amongst ourselves the grades allotted to us. With the majority of the team having a concerning level of discomfort with Hindi, we practiced what we would say to them under our breaths. Ultimately, Anshika and Jhanvi decided to visit sixth grade first, while Ritika and Tara went to the other classrooms.

When we first entered the classrooms, we noticed the incredibly evident sex ratio. It was a pleasant surprise to see many more girls than boys in the classes. We were also welcomed by the teachers graciously, even though we were interrupting their class time. We outlined the aims of our survey to the students in the simplest way possible (and with great difficulty, explained to the boys why this survey wasn’t for them). The class was immediately enveloped in jittery whispers, but when we asked the class how many of the girls there had gotten their period, an uncomfortable silence fell. Even though a single child reluctantly raised her hand, we understood many of them hadn’t gotten their period and did not push further.

Having noticed the awkward glances at each other, we changed our tactic. When the girls were reluctant to raise their hand again in seventh grade, Tara raised her own hand, and so did the rest of the team, encouraging more students to raise their hands. This helped them view us as equals and not just people from another NGO “trying to make a change”.

The girls began filling the surveys out and began discussing the questions with each other. This was may have helped them understand the questions better if they were too shy to ask us. At the same time, it may have been one of the major roadblocks we had to our survey. Had they been discussing answers, the results of our survey would have been quite unreliable.

However, in terms of asking us questions and trying to understand the survey, the girls were quite open and free, raising their hands politely to get our attention.  As we walked from class to class, we read some of the answers and were surprised by the list of things that they could not do on their period, including not eating sour things, not standing in between boys, etc. The students of tenth grade were all female which made the general atmosphere of the class much less tense. They had already studied menstrual health and hygiene, understood the questions easily, and didn’t discuss their answers with others.

Conducting the survey was successful because we were able to identify what would need to be spoken about with the respective classes and how this would be done. However, the results had yet to be analyzed, which would, in turn, develop our surveying techniques and the way we frame our thoughts. Keep reading to follow our journey with the girls from SETU!

Meher from The REDefine Team

The Period Survey for the SETU Foundation: Planning

In hopes of conducting a workshop with SETU Foundation, we decided to conduct a survey about periods with the girls in Setu Shikshajyoti Kendra. Here’s a bit on the thought put into the survey.

Dear reader,

As we sent countless emails to NGOs around Delhi and Noida wondering if our workshops on menstrual health and hygiene would be helpful, we weren’t surprised when we received no response barring one email that said our services weren’t needed. Our spirits did rise when the SETU Foundation responded saying the workshop could be held in their school in Nithari (a village in Noida) called the SETU Shikshajyoti Education Kendra.

The SETU Foundation is an organization that works to make permanent changes to the lives of the underprivileged or the less fortunate. This is done in terms of hygiene, education for all, youth development, women empowerment as well as skill development and rehabilitation. SETU stands for “Skill and Empower the Un-Served”, and interestingly, means “bridge” in Hindi.

This was greeted with much enthusiasm from the team. When are we going to the school to meet the girls? How many girls are there? Who are we going to collaborate with? How much do the girls know? Before we jumped the gun, Ritika suggested we conduct a survey with the girls. We were informed that they could read and write English reasonably well but, knowing our team, we remained skeptical while constructing the survey.

We debated whether the survey was to be aimed at sparking thought about menstruation and the taboo around it or simply retrieving information to aid the talks we were going to give. It was decided that its primary aim was to get information. Some questions, like what they weren’t allowed to do on their period, could possibly make some girls consciously think about the restrictions imposed on them while on their period: but we weren’t expecting much. Ultimately, the survey was aimed at extracting information on the following things:

  • at what age they found out what periods were
  • who told them about periods
  • what they use on their periods
  • whether they attend school on their period
  • what they aren’t allowed to do on their period

There were a million outcomes we could think of; the many ways the survey wouldn’t go as planned. We could only find out after we went to the school the next day.

Tara from The REDefine Team