MH Month gone by: Essar Foundation spreads its wings for menstrual hygiene awareness

Essar Foundation has been working tirelessly, and in a hyper-focused manner, towards menstrual hygiene awareness and management. Hence, May was an extremely important month for us, with Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day attracting the world’s attention on this issue, especially since it came at the backdrop of the Covid-induced lockdowns. The pandemic has forced governments to impose stringent lockdowns. While many individuals, corporates and institutions have reached out with Food & Health supplies, the requirements of a woman received lesser attention. Essar Foundation launched the SAHEJ initiative as a small step towards a solution. Considering the significance of the month of May, we approached Mentrual Hygiene issues at three levels –Action, Engagement and Thought-Leadership!

Its ACTION from the word go!

The month of May started with Essar Foundation launching the massive Sahej initiative. With support from BEST and BMS, we flagged off the initiate with a ‘bus-load’ of Sanitary Napkins being rolled out to distribute it among women in need across Mumbai. The drive also included women covid warriors (police and health-workers), who found it hard to find sufficient access, or time, to procure these essentials amidst this crisis. The drive which initially aimed at distributing 4 lakh sanitary pads across Mumbai, has now spread its wings pan-India, reaching even the remote corners of Jharkhand and Kashmir! We have already provided 6 lakh sanitary napkins and wish to do more.

Flag off of Sahej Sanitary Napkins distribution drive
Flag off of Sahej Sanitary Napkins distribution drive

Sahej reaching the remote parts of the country!
Sahej reaching the remote parts of the country!
ENGAGE for awareness

But this was not all that Sahej had on offer. As the Busses rolled out with sanitary napkins, so did the Sahej App, 360-degree one-stop digital platform meant for all menstrual hygiene related issues! Awareness about the App was spread along with the distribution of sanitary pads, with many NGO and social workers joining hands with Essar Foundation to do App Demos and encourage downloads among the sections needing its services. We even leveraged social media to spur discussions and launched App videos to increase its reach. Now the App is both on Android and IOS. Here’re the links for the Sahej App

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sahej.sahej

IOS: https://apps.apple.com/in/app/sahej/id1515614546

Launch of the Sahej App
Launch of the Sahej App
Lead the way, with THOUGHT-LEADERSHIP

To make any initiative successful and to help any good cause to reach a larger audience, it is essential to share knowledge and inspire discussions. On 27th May, International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) hosted a live twitter chat on the issue of menstrual hygiene. Various esteemed organisations, working in the field of menstrual hygiene (MH) from around the globe, participated in the digital event. The live twitter chat was kickstarted by Essar Foundation,  guiding participants to give their opinions on the current problems faced by women amid the COVID-19, and how to tackle the same. The discussions gave rise to some amazing insights and opinions by global entities, and generated an immense positive vibe!

Twitter chat on Menstrual Hygiene led by Essar
Twitter chat on Menstrual Hygiene led by Essar

Essar Foundation too over the chat from ICRW to lead the discussions for one hour on twitter
Essar Foundation too over the chat from ICRW to lead the discussions for one hour on twitter

Essar Foundation engaged with activists, NGO and institutions on meaningful discussions on  Menstrual Hygiene
Essar Foundation engaged with activists, NGO and institutions on meaningful discussions on  Menstrual Hygiene
The next day, on the occasion of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, ASSOCHAM organised a webinar celebrating and discussing the works of various organisations in the MH space in India and the way forward. Various heads of NGOs spoke about their contributions, and the milestones that our country has achieved. Merine John, from Essar foundation, joined the panellists and spoke about our constant work in the field of MH and Essar Foundation’s flagship SAHEJ initiative. The panellists also laid the milestones for the future of menstrual hygiene space in India. All the panellists emphasised the need to treat menstrual health as a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral issue.

Merine John, represents Essar foundation at the ASSOCHAM webinar
Merine John, represents Essar foundation at the ASSOCHAM webinar
On 29th May, United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) India hosted a webinar discussing the situation of MH in India amid the pandemic. Various speakers put forth their thoughts and contributions in tackling the pandemic for menstruating women. The panellists emphasised on systemic change that needs to be brought about to tackle the taboo. Sumati Joshi of Essar Foundation described the change that the SAHEJ app is capable of bringing in India. She spoke about the power of digital platforms in bringing large scale change, and also discussed the features of the app and its various positive implications.

Sumati Josh joins discussions hosted by United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA)
Sumati Joshi joins discussions hosted by United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA)
Essar Foundation’s initiative reached such scale that many publications spoke about it, with a feature was done by YourStory on the Sahej App for MHDay.

Essar Foundation’s initiative reached such scale that many publications spoke about it, with a feature done by YourStory on the Sahej App for MHDay

A long journey ahead

May has been a good start to the Sahej Initiative. The month’s journey itself have given us great learnings, ideas and inspirations, and brought us together with many like-minded individuals and institutions. But we have a long journey ahead, and hope to continue with the same vigour as we did in May