“Precisely what menstruation is, is not yet very well known.” – G Stanley Hall
Is menstruation it a curse or a blessing ? Every girl at some point asks herself this question when she realizes that a part of her natural process is a social taboo. Yes, menstruation cycle or periods in India are still a less spoken, shameful word not only for men but also women.
A process of shedding blood that also becomes the feeding blood for an unborn child is ironically considered as impure. We all wish to get on with our generations but we forget that this blood cycle is what makes it possible. Biologically, periods is a blessing in disguise, for it becomes the reason a woman feels the bliss of being a mother. Yes, every girl would know the pain its brings along every month but then it’s all worth it. Unfortunately, our society finds this process impure and a curse. Girls are always told not to enter the kitchen, not to visit temples or religious places and stay isolated. In many villages, they are to sit in a separate room for 5 days and are not allowed to enter the house before the bleeding stops. No matter to what extent it pains, they are not allowed to speak about it publicly. Ironically, a condom is bought without any shame but a sanitary napkin, wrapped in a black carry bag. A napkin that adds to the hygiene of a woman is so secretive that some girls don’t buy it if they find a male shopkeeper.
We are heading towards modernization and woman empowerment but it’s not hidden that even today many girls use dirty handkerchiefs. People wrapped in their superstitions, find using sanitary napkins a shameful activity. This causes various diseases where women can’t conceive or even die due to unhygienic handkerchiefs. In situations like this people now need to talk about periods and it’s hygiene. It is necessary to make people aware that it is not a social taboo. We cannot simply let our girls feel shameful about their body and it’s processes. When we talk about this topic, we owe because our government for taking an initiative that has deep roots and is making everyone proud.
While I was waiting to board flight at Kolkata Airport, I noticed that the women washroom had a Sanitary Napkin Vending Machine installed. It was just ₹5 for one or two pads. The machine capacity was 40 sanitary napkins and varies accordingly at different airports. The same kind of machines are now installed at Delhi and Lucknow airports as well. The Airport Authority of India holds responsibility of this initiative and has received constant support from the Centre. When I researched about it, I realized that such machines are also installed at railway stations across the country. Bhopal, being the first one to have this machine on its station, followed by Ludhiana, Andhra Pradesh and many more. This initiative begun by Railway Woman’s Welfare Central Organization aimed at installing eco-friendly sanitary napkin machines in almost 200 major railway stations.
Yes, it’s true that the work has been done with full effort. Feedback tell that the machines not only benefit emergency demands of pads but also see women from nearby slum areas coming to take the napkins. It tells that women who probably can’t afford a quality sanitary napkin packet, come to the stations and seek 2 pads for ₹5. This initiative has educated women about their personal hygiene. Also the authorities have decided to install incinerators with the machines for proper disposal of used napkins. As per reports, the Bhopal machine saw a usage of 2000 pads in three days. That itself tells how grave is a woman’s need.
There are many women who feel shame in buying pads or are below poverty line to afford it. They have spent their entire lives using dirty napkins and following unnecessary rituals. But with changing times and growing education system, they wish to keep their daughters safe and hygienic. They now realize that one sanitary napkin can save her life and give her the wings to fly without fear.
With the help of such machines installed on railway stations and airports, women fearlessly go and take the necessary amount of pads.
Men also should realize that they owe a responsibility to their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers to look after their hygiene. It is a joint effort and everybody should work towards it. Instead of being ashamed of periods, be ashamed of rape. Instead of being angry about the use of pads, be angry about using abortion methods when you can’t owe responsibility of the child. It is appreciable to the core that the country is focusing towards this issue and I’m a supporter always.
Let’s make India proud of menstruation. Girls, be proud, stay hygienic, visit temples for God would never find you impure for the blood that nourishes your womb in pregnancy.
Happiest Birthday Narendra Modi Ji : To the man whose vision made our vision clearer about India
While everyone today is busy telling his achievements as the Prime Minister of India, I wish to tell what I feel when I look up to him as a charismatic persona. For others you might be just another Prime Minister of the country but for me Modi ji you are more than that. You foremost are a responsible citizen whose only motive is to serve the nation. You are the man who works on the ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. When I say work, you actually follow their words and prove them reasonable. You have never been a politician but always above that to many in this country. You have been a ray of hope for every single person who sees India as a developed country whose culture is widely acknowledged. You have been the face of the youth for your words never fail to inspire us. From the Chief Minister pf Gujrat to the Prime Minister of India, your journey has been commendable. From Ache Din Aane Wale hain to Ache Din Aagaye, we realized what politics actually meant.
Your humbleness towards everything has made things easier in every way. People might mock you for those foreign trips but I believe, every trip had a meaning and a very important result to it. From the Rafale Deal to the Bullet Train, you proved your words right about making India technologically strong. It was you whose voice echoed on all international forums when people began to know the power of India as a country. Your foreign trips made the foreign powers praise our country. It were your constant efforts towards the economic growth that even the International Monetary Fund accepted the fact that India since 2014 has grown as an economy and will continue to do so if you remain in power.
The opposition might target your policies of Demonetization and GST : One Nation One Tax but we as citizens truly applaud your efforts. No Prime Minister in the history of Indian politics took such great steps to nourish the economy in just 4 years. It wasn’t easy for you to do all of it with India being the second largest population, but you did it so swiftly. People say you aren’t that secular but I rather feel is it really true ? You have never in these four years played politics on religion. While you were working towards women empowerment, you did that equally. All women have entrepreneurship opportunities open irrespective of their religion. Even the Muslim women had the right to talk about the ill practices they have because they knew you would do something. You did sir, you truly made all efforts for the Triple Talaq Bill to pass and we believe, it will be passed soon.
You made women an integral, inseparable part of the Indian Navy, Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Yes, it was under your jurisdiction that Section 377 was removed and the LGBTQ community today has the right to walk, love and live freely. Your vision of making India one with no discrimination brought us to witness this wondrous decision. I never feel it right to blame you for those crimes that happen in the remote areas of the country or even in the cities. You can control the nation and its policies but negativity will stop only when people begin to think like you. Changing policies is your responsibility but changing mentality is the society’s role.
Every one says, the Prime Minister never comments on LGBTQ, never talks about Hindu Muslim riots or never speaks much on anything. It is because you feel the essence of seeing the country move ahead. Somewhere deep down, we know you are happy with all those decisions in favor of humanity and the country. Your work speaks enough for you when I find electricity in every village I visit. Your work speaks when I see Swach Bharat Abhiyan turning out so successfully all over the country. Your work speaks through Beti Padhao Beti Bachao, Ujwala Yojna, Niti Aayog and what not. Your work speaks when a child of 10 and an experienced man of 60 says the same thing : Iss Baar Phir Se Modi Sarkar.
On your 68th birthday, we wish you the Happiest birthday ever sir. Thank you for being someone above politics. For being you completely, for being our Modi Ji who never fears anything. From meeting thousands of people and children on Independence Day to walking with Atal Ji as a son till the end without security, you told us what actually being Narendra Modi means. No matter what politics turns up to be in future, you will forever remain to be the most favorite.
Your admirer from the youth.
Understanding what PHIA is and what it stands for
“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
– Lily Tomlin
This realisation is PHIA, Partnering Hope Into Action. It believes in a mass change of views which is that the people of all castes, categories and creeds can lead a life without poverty, exclusion and discrimination. Every citizen of the country irrespective of gender, caste, economic background must have access to the rights, justice and dignity,the basic human rights.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
– Mother Teresa
Basis of PHIA
Since PHIA Foundation calls the 21st century Indian poverty, a scandal, the organization vows to eliminate it by paving the way for a society where the people from all walks of life have access to social justice and dignity. Local partners are spreading across the country to help proliferate development and humanitarian initiatives which will, in the long run, stem the root of poverty. A conjoined effort which is strong and is root of the problem is much needed.
PHIA has reached out to over four million individuals in some of the most remote areas of India (touching most of the rural locations). PHIA’s work is expanding and touching lives of various individuals across multiple states. Education, governance, gender equality, empowerment through technology, digital livelihoods and health and nutrition are emerging as the priority areas in which PHIA has partnered with multiple stakeholders to reach out to some of the most marginalized communities and areas.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller
PHIA and partners
Various civil society partners, social activists community leaders, private sector partners, philanthropy institutions and the government officials have joined hands in the mission to make an effort to make society free of poverty and discrimination with PHIA This includes the flagship PACS Programme that has reached over 9 million people in 7 of the poorest states. While the PACS program concluded, PHIA Foundation is helping take the processes and initiatives under PACS further into a new phase.
“We aspire to inspire you to join and support us in our mission to find solutions to poverty and moving towards a just world.”
-Belinda Bennet, Managing Trustee of Phia Foundation
PHIA is currently focusing on five key issues:
- Empowering Rural Women Through Digital Literacy
Internet Saathi, an innovative approach developed by Google along with TATA Trust aims to effectively provide digital literacy to women in rural areas. This is to intensify the number of female users of smartphone to generate a self reliant means of sustenance for a female individual in-habitated into the remote & interiors regions.
The state of Uttar Pradesh has given birth to enough success stories to change the status quo on female digital literacy turningit into a phenomenal transformation.Breaking various caste barriers, there are women from socially backward classes who’ve left behind the social norms & crossed the line of confinements to pursue their liberty.
Internet Saathi has brought about a Social Cohesion in the complex fabric of society just by digital education. Women arenow challenging social stigmas and eagerly look towards to work on pertaining social issues.
- Socio-Economic Development of Women Through Adult Literacy
Literacy plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of the country and female literacy is very crucial for the women empowerment. With an objective to empower women and socially excluded communities through education and literacy, PHIA joined hands with Tata Consultancy Services to impart functional literacy skills in rural areas of 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh. The support of TCS is basis for creation of IT enabled Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) solution which is a combination of the theories of Cognition, Language and Communication.
CBFL solution for adult literacy is in complete sync with TCS’s Adult Literacy Programme (ALP) that falls under the ‘people’ segment of the triple bottom-line sustainability strategy of TCS. Leveraging PHIA’s social capital in the state, PHIA Foundation started the implementation of TCS-Computer based Functional Literacy project across 10 districts.
77 Internet Saathi, social capital created through the Internet Saathi Project, (supported by Google and Tata Trust) which digitally empower rural women, were also brought on-board as instructor for this project. Tapping on the existing social capital eventually enhanced the efficiencies and resulted into a larger impact at grassroot level.PHIA Foundation and Tata Consultancy Services deployed the CBFL project, unanimously naming it as “Nai Shuruwat Sehaj Shiksha Pariyojna” in 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh starting November 2018.
- Livelihood Initiative for Digitally Enabled Women
Digital Livelihood is empowering the Saath is with a self reliant pathways which is sustainable & digital in nature. Enabling to create entrepreneurs & leaders at a primitive level who have successfully engaged themselves into the learnings of digital based literacy,it aims to enhance their capabilities & equip with knowledge to lead a better standard of life.
Presently, Tata Trust have partnered with PHIA Foundation for utilising its social capital for assisting the district based teams in improving the quality of data for key performance indicators of aspirational district programme. NITI Aayog has ranked 101 aspirational districts across India. The ranking involved conducting Household and Institutional Surveys to understand the ground situation. Internet Saathis associated with Phia took up this work in Chandauli and Siddharthanagar districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Another project named ‘SMART BETIYAAN‘ is one of the initiatived undertaken for the Digital Livelihood Program supported by Foundation for Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND) in association with UNICEF, is implemented by PHIA Foundation in Uttar Pradesh. It envisions to create healthy spaces for female by working on the instances of child marriage.
“Smart Betiyan” is functional in places like Shravasti and Balrampur which are counted as the hub of this malpractice.
- Redefining Masculinity Through ‘Its Possible Campaign’
“It’s Possible” as the nomenclature suggests attempts to create an egalitarian society which offers justice to both the sexes & promote gender equality by redefining notions of masculinity.
The campaign works on changing the age old patriarchal attitudes and behavior focusing on the following five key themes:
- Freedom of Choice
- Division of labour at home
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
– Rosa Parks
- Improving Education Outcomes for Children’s Right and Development
PHIA Foundation with support of Unicef is collectively working on the issues related to child right and development, inclusive of quality education to ensure the overall development of children and reduction in school dropout rate.
Coalition on Child Rights and Development (CCRD) is a initiative on which PHIA is working with 16 CSOs in developing the Citizen report, improving basic requirements under Grievance redressal, improving student -teacher ratio,”Har Bachha School Mein” Abhiyaan and many more.
Following commencement of the first phase of CCRD project, a few important steps wereinitially taken to bring together various stakeholders and collectives of children, teachers, youth groups, Community Based Organisations (CBOs), CSOs and the Government, both at state and district levels. Motive was to address the issue of promoting and advocating rights of children, with education being the central focus to improve enrolment, attendance and school completion, and their participation in activities to promote healthy & active living.
This mobilization has set up an alliance from where more focused interventions can be launched not only to further quality education but other areas as well for holistic development of children and their rights.
A Session -For ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education
“The Mind is not a Vessel to be Filled,but a fire to be kindled.”
Such a torch, borne by Torch Bearers for Education, the organisers of the Session “For Ensuring Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education” was held on 27th June,2018 at the SCERT Hall, Nishatganj, Lucknow. 17 CSO s came under the banner of Behtar Shiksha Haq Abhiyaan to bring the importance of child education and female empowerment in the fore.
Representatives from various Gramya Sansthaans, SMC s and other societies working at the rural level attended the event and enriched it with their experiences. The discussion was about the need for the SMCs to gain empowerment and made more responsibility.
Mr. Anand Bolimera, Director of PHIA Foundation, stressed upon the fact that it is important for all the stakeholders to come together. The torchbearers lead and show the way and make it a network of various organizations working hand in hand towards betterment of Education in the impoverished and marginalized sections of the society. In his words,”Poverty is not the lack of income ,it is the lack of opportunities and power.”
Mr. Anand made people aware of the plight of the Musahar Tribe being the lowest on the literacy ladder.
He ascertained his belief that power in the partnership will build a platform that will be a bridge to fill the gap between the various shareholders.
Currently they are working in UP,MP,Bihar, Jharkhand and other states of the Hindi belt.
Mr. Prashant gave his inputs upon the issues of livelihood,social seclusion, serious issues of discrimination and the urgent need of promoting inclusion and equity,and how education actually lifts one from poverty.
Mr.Ritwik Patra,the representative from UNICEF,showed how Internet a source of unbiased,non discrimination quality education source available to all, accessible by all,and is changing lives.Other than that, the Jan Pahal Radio program run by them is doing wonders in various fields.
Dr.Sarvendra Singh, Director of Basic Education,made aware every one of the key accomplishments like increasing the SMC capacity, giving them proper infrastructure and grievance redressal,the Nayi Shuruaat Sehaj Shiksha Pariyojna and Har Bachha School Mein.
The great gender divide in the usage of Internet, being 28% women using it, was mitigated by the Google and Tata Trust initiative, The Internet Saathi. Already 5477 Internet Saathis are working with 32.86 Lakhs individuals.
Thousands of women are breaking the stereotypes and many examples demonstrate success stories about breaking social barriers and getting economically empowered.
Mrs. Renuka Tandon from FICCI FLO , stressed on the fact of attaching education with various talents and giving them a little something about various life skills,right from the childhood as it is the main time of learning various motor skills, thus honing their perspective about various careers to choose.
The second session began with a very intriguing panel discussion where various persons from the industry presented their views about how they are the bringing changes. Bringing technology in education, putting QR code on books and thus associating more information about the subject to achieve more clarity, introducing various ingenious and creative methods into the teaching pedagogy, etc were hot shots.
Hence, it was an agreement by various agencies working together with their respective expertise to bring about the holistic development of children.
We hope to see the change soon.
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