Whilst in India, we visited the amazing charity GBS who run various projects with the aim to empower disadvantaged communities in the local area. The women we met here skillfully make our drawstring bags which you may have seen!
GBS have done a huge amount of successful work with local rural villages and in particular, their women. Their most recent upcoming project is one which we at Henri, fully back and would love you to show your support to through buying one of our shirt pin badges.
GBS plan to set up and run the manufacturing and selling of sanitary napkins which will be transformative to women’s health and status in many rural villages across Jaipur. Menstruation in India is shrouded in myths and taboos, especially in these rural areas. Research conducted by GBS in villages such as Goplyawas, Koliyon ki dhaani, Kharkhara, Khawarani and Pawta, found that 80% of women and girls did not know about the availability of sanitary napkins. Further studies have shown that around 200 million Indian women are not educated on the topic of periods and many lack access to toilets and sanitary products.
Because of the taboo surrounding women and periods, many do not openly discuss the topic and tend to associate having a period with feeling shameful. In many villages, whilst menstruating women are thought to be ‘untouchable’ and are not allowed to enter certain spaces such as temples and kitchens.
Traditionally, women with no access to sanitary products have typically used scrap cloths, old saris and towels, with many adding in rice and ash for added protection. This is incredibly dangerous and as a result, many of these women suffer from infections which can affect them in many ways, one of which is their ability to turn up to work. Furthermore, as women are embarrassed to clean these saris and towels, they tend to wash them in secret, afraid of airing them in public which often means they are not disinfected, increasing the likelihood of infection. It is thought that around 70% of reproductive diseases in India are thought to be caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
If women are experiencing a period, a lot of the time they will choose not to attend work because of a lack of access to toilets, limited breaks and not having the sanitary products to ensure they can comfortably work.
There are many organisations that exist in India working extremely hard to remove the taboos surrounding periods and provide women at the village level with access to free sanitary products. GBS plan to purchase machinery of their own to produce the products in Jaipur which will provide sustainable jobs for up to three women in the local village- an added bonus.
At Henri, we believe that women should be able to speak freely about the natural processes their bodies experience and have easy access to sanitary products. We fully support GBS and their sanitary napkin project and we hope you can help to support the cause too by purchasing one of our GBS pin badges!
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