#PledgeYourPeriod was a Bloody Success!
Throughout the month of May 2019, the Desai Foundation organized its second #PledgeYourPeriod campaign, a fundraiser and awareness initiative focused around menstrual health hygiene. Participants from around the world ‘pledged’ their periods on social media either by uploading a video of themselves or posting an infographic calling attention to the stigma surrounding periods, denouncing the cultural taboos associated with menstruation, and advocating for the improvement of menstrual health awareness and resources for girls in India.
The proceeds of the campaign were directed to the Desai Foundation’s Asani Sanitary Napkin Program, which trains women in rural Western India to manufacture and distribute sanitary products. Due to the inaccessibility of sanitary napkins and health facilities in many rural communities, there remains a lack of information regarding menstrual hygiene—in fact, 71% of girls do not know what periods are before they experience them for the first time, and many are obliged to manage their periods with an unsanitary rag instead of with pads. Not only does this program empower women through an opportunity for employment, but the increased access to menstrual products also provides them with the means to pursue higher education and livelihood prospects while menstruating, as 23% of girls would otherwise drop out of school after starting their periods. Moreover, the Desai Foundation ensures that girls are given the necessary information and resources to manage their periods through regular educational programming such as health and hygiene classes, focused group discussions, and community awareness programs.
To commemorate Menstrual Hygiene Day, the #PledgeYourPeriod campaign concluded with a ‘Period Party’ on May 29th co-hosted by Brown Girl Magazine in New York City. This party, a nod to the rite of passage experienced by many girls across South Asia, brought together women and allies to discuss their shared experiences of facing stigma regarding menstruation and the need to improve the dialogue surrounding menstrual health hygiene for women around the world. This event was also an opportunity to celebrate the success of the #PledgeYourPeriod fundraising campaign and highlight the work done by the Asani Sanitary Napkin campaign last year, which resulted in the production of 75,000 pads overseen by 125 women working as distribution specialists across 500 villages in Western India, impacting a total of 12,000 women.