Adrianne Jonquiere-Breure and Marischka Leenaers visited BRLPS-JEEViKA for the Sanitary Pads Sales & Distribution programs. JEEViKA, the projected partner in the program ‘Making Periods Normal’, set up strong community structures in Bihar. The project design is based on the different strategies to build a multi-tiered, self sustaining, model of community based institutions who are self managing for their own development. Women are discussing different interventions of their self sustainability in weekly meetings and in this way social empowerment is being facilitated by their own management. The core strategy of the BRLPS program is to build vibrant and bankable women’s community institutions in the form of self help groups (SHG’s). Through member savings, internal loaning and regular repayment they become self sustaining organizations.
Lively conversations about periods and pads
Adrianne, Program Manager Sanitary Pads, and expert Marischka were welcomed with a song. It is the song of the SHG’s, and it is about how the SHG helps them in their social empowerment and economic independence. The conversations they had with the women were open and positive. The use of cloth is main stream, only a few use pads and would have to buy it in a village 2 km away. The price of sanitary pads is an issue. Comfort would be a reason to buy pads if they could afford it. The main complaints about cloth are that it moves, sticks and itches, sometimes even causing rash. Where health has been a top reason to buy pads in other states we have done research, here this is not mentioned as such.
Mothers and daughters
The women are eager to know and join in the discussion actively. Mothers tell their daughters about menstruation, what it is and how to deal with it. The exact nature of what they tell remains unsaid, for now. Enthusiasm leads to the suggestion of door-to-door sales. This way it’s more private and men are not involved. A suggestion that encounters positive reactions.