“Don’t touch the achar or you’ll spoil it”
“Don’t go to into the pooja room for the next few days”
“It’s the woman’s curse, you have to bear with it”
How many times have we as women heard those lines when we’re on our period? Countless. In cities, we simply don’t pay attention or have a cool, sassy comeback for them.
But women in rural areas like southern Rajasthan face a different reality. This normal, healthy body function is mired in myths and taboos that lead to a long-lasting negative impact on their health, self-image and esteem.
Jatan Sansthan, an NGO and Vikalpdesign, a design studio, came together in 2011 to start the Uger Project in the area to bring the topic of menstruation into mainstream conversation. Uger means ‘new beginnings’ in the Mewari language spoken in the area and the project aims to be just that for the women.
(The Uger team talks to women and adolescents about menstruation and how it is a natural process)
The team has also designed and developed the Uger reusable cloth menstrual pad to promote menstrual health, make women connect with their bodies and help them make healthy choices. The pads are made by women associated with the organization who get to supplement their income with this activity.
(Clockwise L to R: The Uger reusable cloth pad; women stitching pads at the Ugar center in Udaipur; a closer look at the stitching process)
Uger thus works in four distinct areas: research, awareness and capacity building, promoting the re-usable, environment-friendly Uger cloth pad and designing effective communication tools for training.
As an organization, Jaypore is proud to associate with and contribute to the Uger Project. For five days, 10% of the sales from a specially curated event will be donated to this project to boost the production of Uger’s unique reusable cloth menstrual pads. Ultimately, the aim is to help women connect with their bodies and make healthy choices.
About the Uger Project
The Uger Project works with women, men and adolescents in rural areas to increase awareness about menstruation, managing it positively and sloughing off the negative taboos associated with it. The organization has developed the Uger reusable cloth pad as a healthier, sustainable alternative to industrially made products that hurt both the body and the environment.
(L to R: Volunteers at the Uger Center learning to stitch the pad; the product packaged and ready to be used)
Using cotton cloth sourced locally in Udaipur, these reusable pads are made by a group of women from economically weaker sections in Neemach Kheda near the city. The team also trains women and men to become, in turn, trainers to others in their area for making the Uger pads and have increased the team of trainers to nearly 12,000 people in the last three years.
(Uger prepares trainers to go out into the field and spread the word as well as train others in making and using the Uger reusable cloth pad)
In the future, the Uger Project wants to put its resources into government advocacy to decrease the use of industrial made menstrual management products and increase use of cloth pads as these are not only harmless to the body but are also bio-degradable, affordable, easy to make and dispose and culturally acceptable.
Image Credits: Jatan Sansthan and Vikalp Design