A strong woman stands up for herself, a stronger woman stands up for others.

Kiran’s story from Jirapur village, Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh

When CARE India commenced its intervention under the Women + Water Programme, Kiran was chosen as the mobiliser as she was active and had good interaction and acceptance in the village. She lives in a small village with her family that includes two daughters, aged 14 and three. Kiran had completed her studies till the class 12. This programme helped her to realise that she was learning something useful and essential. Topics like problem-solving, decision making, time and stress management, effective communication, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), and financial management touched important aspects of her life.

The session on WASH touched her the most. She remembers the struggles she faced during her menstruations in addition to the pain, embarrassment and emotional ups and downs due to the absence of proper counselling and advice. Menstruation has always been surrounded by taboos and myths that exclude women from many aspects of socio-cultural life. Low knowledge levels and understanding of puberty, menstruation, and reproductive health make the situation worse for women like her. Realising that there is scope and a need for the right type of counselling and advice for adolescents in and around the age of attaining puberty, she decided to fill the gap.

She has been promoting the use of sanitary napkins and passing on good hygiene practices to lessen the stress on girls, while discouraging the traditional unhygienic methods and practices around menstruation and hygiene. During menstruation, women and girls are considered to be impure in her village, hence not allowed to lift water using their hands. Standing near the hand pump, she was able to identify the women and girls who were in the middle of their periods. And thus she started her awareness building initiative at the Anganwadi centre.

So far, she has been able to reach around 50-60 young women taught them ways to overcome the challenges they face during periods. Her aim is to educate every girl in the village about menstrual hygiene before they start menstruating. She believes that it should not come to them as a surprise; instead, they should be aware and prepared.

Kiran doesn’t want them to suffer and struggle as she did in her younger days. According to her, to dispel the myths and taboos around menstruation are a big challenge, but she feels that proper hygiene practices can be beneficial and minimise their stress and embarrassment.

We salute change-makers like her.

CARE India is working with USAID and Gap Inc. as a partner of the Women + Water Alliance (W+W) to improve and sustain the health and well-being of 200,000 women by inculcating sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices and working towards the availability and sharing of quality water resources in a sustained manner.

Women + Water Programme team