India: On the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day, Sirona – a disruptive leading Indian feminine hygiene brand with the Sirona Hygiene Foundation, announced the donation of 5000 menstrual cups to underprivileged menstruators across India along with training over three menstrual cycles on how to use the cup to ensure adoption.
The Sirona Hygiene Foundation is the social responsibility arm of Sirona which works towards reducing period poverty and gender equality in India. The Foundation aims to end period poverty in the country, by giving menstrual cup accessibility and training to over one lakh underprivileged women, through its flagship project – Lakhon Khwaishein. In the last year, the Foundation has donated 5000 cups and this Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28, 2022, it pledges to donate another 5000 cups to achieve its goal of reducing period poverty. To support the Foundation’s efforts, the brand Sirona contributes INR 1 per product sold towards initiatives that improve menstrual health and hygiene of underprivileged women across India.
Period poverty is a public health crisis that has been difficult to solve despite numerous health programs. Especially in a country like India where menstruation is still a taboo. As per NFHS 5 data, among the rural areas, only seven States and UTs, including Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Kerala, Mizoram, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, had 90 per cent or more women using sanitary items. In contrast, Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Gujarat, and Bihar had 70 per cent or fewer women using sanitary items. Only in 2021, the Government clarified that sanitary napkins are to be included in the list of essential commodities.
Hence, to remove the stigma around menstruation for all those who menstruate and create an enabling environment through policy, advocacy, and support for sustainable menstruation, Sirona Hygiene Foundation was set up in 2020 and has been committed to educating, enabling, and empowering women everywhere with the means to improve their menstrual health and hygiene.
A governing body member of the Sustainable Menstruation Coalition, the Sirona Hygiene Foundation to date has worked with 54 organisations such as Raintree, PVR Nest, TYCIA, SOS Children’s Villages of India, Sangam world Centre, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, etc to reach the right beneficiaries to solve menstrual health issues. In 2021 alone, the foundation impacted 5000+ lives by empowering them with the knowledge of Menstrual Hygiene and Sustainable Menstruation. The Foundation conducts training sessions to help them understand the use of menstrual cups with follow-up sessions to ensure product use over some time. It is also driving discussions and conversations with organisations working with Trans Men and other menstruators and aims to not leave anyone behind.
Velhe Village, Pune: There has been an impact of pledging 5000 cups visible in the Velhe Village in Pune. The pledge has successfully shattered barriers and taboos around menstrual hygiene with around 53 per cent of women have switched to menstrual cups after receiving the right training and resources from the Sirona Hygiene Foundation. In addition, Raintree Foundation helped organise the awareness program in the village. Dr Aarushi Kehar Malhotra, Sr. Manager of Research Advocacy and Wellness at Sirona Hygiene Pvt. Ltd., hosted a virtual workshop for training women about the use and maintenance of menstrual cups, which have proven to be cost-effective, eco-friendly, safe, and reusable. The organisation is targeting the impact on menstruators by collaborating with NGOs, educational institutes and CSR initiatives of corporates to make India aware of safe period practices.
Deep Bajaj, CEO & Co-Founder, of Sirona, said, “At the core of Sirona Hygiene Foundation lies a deep-rooted vision to see a world where every woman and girl is empowered to live a healthy life, free of stigma, prejudice, and forced choices. Our initiatives aim to break the cycle of age-old taboos and social norms that still dictate how a woman feels about and approaches her menstrual hygiene. If we all take a small step of spreading awareness and educating even one woman around us, we will cover miles of this long road ahead of us and get closer to ending period poverty.”
Dr Diksha S Chadha M.D., Director of Social Programs, Sirona Hygiene Foundation, said, “Starting from a place where we used to receive calls to donate pads, we are proud to have found community partners who dared to think ahead and support our sustainable menstruation solutions. Pads needed repeated funding, while menstrual cups donated and adopted once, can be used for up to 10 years. Menstrual cups are not our innovation, they existed for a while out there.
But what we have been able to establish is a resourceful system of menstrual health care delivery, utilising our network of community partners and unique training and monitoring protocols, suitable in the socio-cultural context of our country. All of it is impossible without the hard work of our partner NGOs on the ground.
If earlier, the women would either use cloth or disposable pads, the idea was to change the behaviour to using cups, so that it’s convenient, comfortable and cost-effective. The principles of behaviour change communication required are to first make them aware of the problems in current behaviour of using cloth or napkins. Then they were made aware of a new product or behaviour and informed about its advantages. They often tie up used pads in polythene to dispose of in community bins or outside in the woods instead of throwing them with house waste. The cup is an effective solution as it can be used without undergarments, lasts up to 10 years and saves them the trouble of buying or disposing off pads”
Leena Dandekar, Founder, and Director of Raintree Foundation said, “Sustainable menstrual hygiene management is the need of the hour. Menstrual cups have proven to be cost-effective, eco-friendly, safe, and reusable and we are looking to generate awareness among the women in our community on it. Therefore, we have partnered with Sirona Hygiene Foundation (SHF) in providing menstrual cups and doctor consultations to beneficiaries from Self-help groups (SHGs) in its project area under project Mukta. Co-created with SHF, project Mukta is aimed at breaking the taboo and normalising period talk. This partnership has turned out into a very fruitful collaboration as it has helped our beneficiaries to have open conversations about sexual and reproductive health (SRH). A platform like this was inaccessible for our beneficiaries before and these conversations are helping them understand Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) better.”
Video Link to the CSR Initiative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZEOABi7Cug