By Rusen Kumar
Periods – they’re treated like a dirty subject. Something that should be only whispered about amongst close friends. Women regularly feel embarrassed whilst shopping for sanitary products. But why? Why has menstruation become so difficult to face? In a world where around 50% of us experience it, Agrima Makharia wants us to rethink periods and how we support those suffering from period poverty.
Agrima Makharia is a 16-year-old 11th grade student perusing her high school from Oberio
International School, Mumbai. Ever since she learned about menstruation at the tender age of 11, she always wondered as to why women were told not to step into the kitchen during their period.
As she grew up and read more about the phenomena realized that there were a thousand barriers and myths holding women back, preventing them from striving, achieving and growing. This gave her a reason to start her own journey to break these age-old myths by educating the underprivileged girls and women. The idea centres around using research to illuminate a taboo subject that is hidden and stigmatised from everyday conversation.
She noticed that there was a stunning lack of empirical evidence around the subject. From access to period products, to the impact on health, to being excluded from society to the qualitative experience women menstruating.
It was high time to create awareness. Agrima’s idea is going to raise consciousness and open dialogue and channels of communication that allow people to feel empowered to discuss menstruation, without feeling shame. It is also going to foster a collective responsibility to support others who are unable to afford period products and to push for change regarding this.
“The main aim of my project is to tackle the issues of high cost, lack of availability and to educate girls and women on the topic of menstruation. I want to create a solution that will be functioning and viable in the long run, rather than doing something that will be temporary.”, says Agrima Makharia
She conducted a survey across Mumbai, Varanasi, and a nearby village by going around and questioning a few women (belonging to a lower socio-economic class) and distributed free sanitary napkins. She noticed that women in the cities (especially in Mumbai) were better off to some extent because of the effect of urbanization but in rural part of India, women are not much aware about. There is lack of education, products are not available thus they have no choice.
In 2016, Agrima started looking for biodegradable sanitary napkins and spoke to various other companies, including Suvidha, a government initiative before finalising on the fully biodegradable pads made by Mahesh Khandelwal, a scientist who has not designed biodegradable pads but also the technology to produce it. He is also the honorary secretary for the Indian Red Cross Society, Mathura district along with receiving the National Unity Award in 1993 and instantly drawn by his mission as this is his way of giving back to society and his is social project, not his business.
Napkins are completely biodegradable that decompose within three months and will also increase the fertility and water retention of the soil. Solid waste management is a threat to the environment and this is his endeavour towards a Green Period.