I am often asked about the reaction of our families about our work (aka Menstrupedia) and whether are they supportive of it. We wanted to let you all know that our families have been very supportive, especially our mothers.
Madhu Aunty (Madhu Mittal) is Rajat’s mother (Rajat is the co-founder of Menstrupedia) and it is just amazing how she have been always there for us, encouraging us in some of the most toughest times in the initial phase of Menstrupedia. Madhu Aunty took a menstrual awareness workshop for girls in her locality. Overjoyed I decided to interview her about it. I was an absolute honor and a very emotional moment for me to read her answers. And here I share them with you.
Q: Please tell our readers about you. What do you do?
Madhu Aunty: I am a housewife and a proud mother of two sons. I am now 63 years of age. I have a keen interest in yoga and have been conducting yoga classes for underprivileged children in my society in the community center of sector 50 in Noida.
Apart from that, I take regular yoga follow-up sessions in the morning for the benefit of the residents of the same society since 2005. I take a lot of other social awareness classes covering topics such as garbage enzyme manufacturing, hazards of plastic/ polythene bags, environmental protection, etc.
Q: How did you decided to conduct a menstrual awareness workshop in your community?
Madhu Aunty: I have been teaching underprivileged children in junior classes right up to the fifth standard. About 40 children attend these classes, both boys and girls. I have read and have always liked the Menstrupedia comic book for taking up the issue of this bold subject in such a simple manner for the benefit of growing young girls in such an accessible way. I have not seen any other written material on this important subject so nicely explained. This is why I decided to conduct a workshop on this subject for the benefit of the growing young girls in the community center.
Q: Can you tell us more about the setup of the workshop?
Madhu Aunty: I conducted my first workshop in the Community Center, Sector 50, Noida with 25 girls of 9 to 16 years of age.
Q: Were there any challenges you faced while talking about periods to the group of girls in your community? What was the atmosphere like?
Madhu Aunty: In the beginning, the girls were very shy to talk or ask any thing about this process but later on, they expressed interest to know more. During the workshop, the atmosphere was very friendly and the girls appreciated the information furnished in the comic book.
Q: Any insights on how you went about the workshop and its flow? Did you adopt certain techniques and tricks to approach tricky topics?
Madhu Aunty: I gave a few copies of the comic to some grown up girls and to a lady teacher of the class to read this at home. This catered to their curiosity and later to the other girls who did not get to read the book. After two days, I talked to them and asked if they had learnt more about this natural process. Their response was very encouraging and after that, the other girls also asked me to give them the comic to read. After another three days, I conducted a workshop for all of them in order to clear their doubts on the subject.
Q: How did the Menstrupedia Comic help you in conducting the workshop? How was the comic-book received?
Madhu Aunty: The book is interesting and informative and it creates interest among its readers.
Q: What were the take-aways from the workshop? Any specific outcomes you’d like to share?
Madhu Aunty: There is lot of scope for spreading this information amongst a larger section of lower middle class Indian society.
Q: Please share with us the conversations you had and the questions the girls asked and your observations regarding them.
Madhu Aunty: The girls asked the following questions:
How does the baby appear in the stomach?
How does the fetus breathe and take in food?
I explained to the girls that women were not allowed to enter kitchens in olden days in order to give some rest to them during their periods. The precaution for hygiene techniques and methods was not available in those days and hence girls were asked not to enter their kitchens. But now, with the availability of proper methods of hygiene, there is no such taboo. All girls/women have to go through this natural process during their lifetime and hence no girl should feel shy or afraid of this process. Although elder girls were participating in the discussion, the little girls were feeling very shy.
Q: Do you plan to conduct more such workshops in the future? What would you do differently from the one you did before?
Madhu Aunty: Yes. I want to conduct more such workshops in the future. I will try to conduct the next workshop with the help of other social groups.
Q: Do you have suggestions on more tools or methods that can facilitate menstrual awareness workshops for young girls?
Madhu Aunty: Some audio visual tapes/CDs can be made to show to the participants.
Q: What was the best moment/part of the workshop that you’d like to share, perhaps something that cracked you up or rewarded the effort you put in?
Madhu Aunty: All the girls and the lady teacher liked the comic book.
Introduction and interview by Aditi Gupta (Co-founder Menstrupedia)
Edited by – Divya Rosaline0