Social Activist, My Passion, My Dream

SeemaKhandale
Posted October 10, 2019
Awareness and Promotion of Sustainable Menstruations Options
Go Sustainable, Hygienic, Healthy Options

Greetings,

 

*A homemaker to a Change maker*

 

Year 2015, a turning point of my life, which gave me a additional identity of Social Activist.

 Dream of my Master's Degree got completed in March 2015. A dream which I was with since 1994, after completing my B.Sc(Botany). I completed my MSW(Masters in Social Work) after 20 years of my marriage from IGNOU.

Social work, my Passion, planned my life, with the help of strong support of my friends and family to build a firm platform of my own NGO, Ashay Social Group (Reg NGO, Oct 2015) with a vision/mission of Care for the Environment.the reusable option.

Ashay Social Group has two primary objectives:

1) Avoid Plastic Carry Bags and Use Cloth Bags.

2) Health, Hygiene and Promotion of Sustainable Menstruation Options like Menstrual Cup and Cloth pads.

 

Mission 1:The first project started with a 3R concept:-Recycle, Reuse, Reduce!

Asking for old used sarees, dupattas, blouse pieces, making cloth bags from them(one saree~10cloth bags)with the team of 4 ladies in Bhusawal (This gave them micro employment). These bags are distributed to the people of our society.

I personally believe in "gifting", this gifted bag is just to put a habit to use a cloth bag and say No to Plastic carry bags. 

A simple calculation if we understand..

Say No to 1 plastic carry a day, in a week it means No to 5 plastic bags,

In a month ~25,

In a year~ 300

Think if all the family members implement this, think of the count!

Till now the distribution count we have crossed is above 22,000 cloth bags and still working on it...

 

 

 In March 2016, I came across an article in a newspaper about a story of a cup, started searching for the product,   I wanted to have the product in my hands, after checking it, as if I'm comfortable for it or not, was going to final the use of it and also the cost was one concern. In June 2016, I got one option, a lady was selling it, bought one for me and tried it the same day, even when I was not in my menses. That month I  was eagerly waiting for my periods. And after the use, there was no looking back!

I started spreading a word with my friends and my near ones. Explaining them about the comfort and the ease. I found this economical beneficial, hygiene wise safe as made from silicone and the main thing eco-friendly one as no trash was created from the reusable option.

 

 

Mission 2: Health, Hygiene and Promotion and Awareness of Sustainable Menstruation Options

While working on eliminating the use of plastic carry bags, I came across an article based on a cup in Loksatta in March 2016. It wasn’t an ordinary cup but more or less a magical product- a menstrual cup! 

Upon starting my research on it, I found that I was not comfortable buying it online. After about two months, I finally bought a suitable menstrual cup and started waiting for my periods eagerly.

When I used it for the first time, I found it extremely comfortable. And since that day, there has been no looking back at disposable sanitary napkins.

Indian society is not that open when it comes to talking freely about periods. But its high time we understand that menstruation is a natural process and a sign of growing up which is nothing to be ashamed or secretive of!

 

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a cup-shaped object made up of 100% silicone medically graded material.  Since Silicon is an inert material implying that it does not react with other materials, a menstrual cup is absolutely hygeinic, non-toxic and non-allergic. 

A menstrual cup is worn inside the vagina at the time of periods to collect all the menstrual fluid. This fluid can be emptied and the cup can be worn again after washing with regular tap water. 

There are proper techniques of wearing and removing the cup and one can master them easily with just a bit of practice!

One of the major benefits of using a menstrual cup is that one cup can be used for 8 to 10 years and a good quality cup would cost anything between Rs 500- Rs 1000, depending upon the brand and the size!

 While working on spreading awareness about the sunstainable menstrual options, in 2017, I got an opportunity to design a menstrual cup. A gentleman having an experience of working with silicon for 45 years helped me achieve my next landmark- the designing of RUTU cup.

Made up of good quality silicon medically graded material, the cup has pores and a small stem. 

So far, I have helped more than 1590+ women's to switch to this sustainable option and hope to do so for many more in future. The comfort that RUTU cup gives them has made these women by best volunteers. It does not allow that to sit still but discuss it all around!

 In the two years of my awareness campaigns, I have come across women coming from different sections. Young girls, married women, housewives, anganvadi sevikas, teachers, women from government offices, corporate sector, maids, street women, visually challenged, runners, swimmers, and even Doctors. And I am proud to say that I have been sucessful in guiding them all about how to use a menstrual cup and they are now super-comfortably using the menstrual cup. 

 

Here are some more achievements:

In association with India Woman Blog, we successfully carried out the Cold Period Campaign in Jaipur in December 2017. During the campaign, we managed to help 49 women switch to menstrual cup in a single day! In the follow-up round of the campaign, these women showered us with their blessings and asked for more cups for their friends and relatives. 

I have conducted a large number of sessions at private and government offices, schools and colleges explaining about sustainable menstrual products. A number of sessions have also been conducted in different communities with the help of Angadwadi sevikas. 

 

Mouth to mouth publicity has worked like magic for me in encouraging more and more women to switch to menstrual cup and cloth pads. 

 

My thriving social endeavors have been covered by a lot of websites such as The Indian Woman Blog, The Better Indian and Topyaps. Many articles talking about my work have also been published in different newsletters.

 

I have been fortunate enough to be acknowledged for my work and interviewed by several radio channels broadcasting in Mumbai, Surat, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Dhule etc. I am glad for the fact that it helps me spread the word about my work even more!

 

I am glad to share that I have had live Facebook sessions and TV interviews with some renowned media houses and organisations such as Pinkathon, Lokmat and Max Maharashtra. 

 

Recently, I arranged two  online sessions with Indians settled in China. Conducted through an app, WeChat, I interacted with as many as 500+260 women in the session and sent RUTU cups all the way to China.

 

This  year, I was honoured by Lokmat Social Entrepreneur Awards 2018 for my work .  On 11th Dec i was honoured  by  BahinaBai award, for working for Women's Health, by Gurunath Foundation, Muktainagar, in Guidance of Shri Eknathrao Khadse Sir and RakshaTai Khasde.

Tarunai award from Jantaraja Pratishthan, Pune. Honoured by REA Foundation, Panvel.

 

Above all, my biggest achievement are happy sustainable menstrual product users who are also my best volunteers and a great support system. The satisfaction and comfort they have found in using menstrual cups and cloth pads does not let them sit still but spread the word around to more and more women. I am glad that my interaction helps them gain confidence that someone is with them to help them take small steps towards sustainable and happier periods.

Thanks.

 

Seema Khandale

Founder of Ashay Social Group

9930025807

www.ashaysocialgroup.org

Greetings,

*A homemaker to a Change maker*

Year 2015, a turning point of my life, which gave me a additional identity of Social Activist.  Dream of my Master's Degree got completed in March 2015. A dream which I was with since 1994, after completing my B.Sc(Botany). I completed my MSW(Masters in Social Work) after 20 years of my marriage from IGNOU. Social work, my Passion, planned my life, with the help of strong support of my friends and family to build a firm platform of my own NGO, Ashay Social Group (Reg NGO, Oct 2015) with a vision/mission of Care for the Environment.the reusable option. Ashay Social Group has two primary objectives: 1) Avoid Plastic Carry Bags and Use Cloth Bags. 2) Health, Hygiene and Promotion of Sustainable Menstruation Options like Menstrual Cup and Cloth pads.

Mission 1:The first project started with a 3R concept:-Recycle, Reuse, Reduce! Asking for old used sarees, dupattas, blouse pieces, making cloth bags from them(one saree~10cloth bags)with the team of 4 ladies in Bhusawal (This gave them micro employment). These bags are distributed to the people of our society. I personally believe in "gifting", this gifted bag is just to put a habit to use a cloth bag and say No to Plastic carry bags.  A simple calculation if we understand.. Say No to 1 plastic carry a day, in a week it means No to 5 plastic bags, In a month ~25, In a year~ 300 Think if all the family members implement this, think of the count! Till now the distribution count we have crossed is above 22,000 cloth bags and still working on it...

 In March 2016, I came across an article in a newspaper about a story of a cup, started searching for the product,   I wanted to have the product in my hands, after checking it, as if I'm comfortable for it or not, was going to final the use of it and also the cost was one concern. In June 2016, I got one option, a lady was selling it, bought one for me and tried it the same day, even when I was not in my menses. That month I  was eagerly waiting for my periods. And after the use, there was no looking back! I started spreading a word with my friends and my near ones. Explaining them about the comfort and the ease. I found this economical beneficial, hygiene wise safe as made from silicone and the main thing eco-friendly one as no trash was created from the reusable option.

Mission 2: Health, Hygiene and Promotion and Awareness of Sustainable Menstruation Options While working on eliminating the use of plastic carry bags, I came across an article based on a cup in Loksatta in March 2016. It wasn’t an ordinary cup but more or less a magical product- a menstrual cup!  Upon starting my research on it, I found that I was not comfortable buying it online. After about two months, I finally bought a suitable menstrual cup and started waiting for my periods eagerly. When I used it for the first time, I found it extremely comfortable. And since that day, there has been no looking back at disposable sanitary napkins. Indian society is not that open when it comes to talking freely about periods. But its high time we understand that menstruation is a natural process and a sign of growing up which is nothing to be ashamed or secretive of!

What is a menstrual cup? A menstrual cup is a cup-shaped object made up of 100% silicone medically graded material.  Since Silicon is an inert material implying that it does not react with other materials, a menstrual cup is absolutely hygeinic, non-toxic and non-allergic.  A menstrual cup is worn inside the vagina at the time of periods to collect all the menstrual fluid. This fluid can be emptied and the cup can be worn again after washing with regular tap water.  There are proper techniques of wearing and removing the cup and one can master them easily with just a bit of practice! One of the major benefits of using a menstrual cup is that one cup can be used for 8 to 10 years and a good quality cup would cost anything between Rs 500- Rs 1000, depending upon the brand and the size!  While working on spreading awareness about the sunstainable menstrual options, in 2017, I got an opportunity to design a menstrual cup. A gentleman having an experience of working with silicon for 45 years helped me achieve my next landmark- the designing of RUTU cup. Made up of good quality silicon medically graded material, the cup has pores and a small stem.  So far, I have helped more than 1590+ women's to switch to this sustainable option and hope to do so for many more in future. The comfort that RUTU cup gives them has made these women by best volunteers. It does not allow that to sit still but discuss it all around!  In the two years of my awareness campaigns, I have come across women coming from different sections. Young girls, married women, housewives, anganvadi sevikas, teachers, women from government offices, corporate sector, maids, street women, visually challenged, runners, swimmers, and even Doctors. And I am proud to say that I have been sucessful in guiding them all about how to use a menstrual cup and they are now super-comfortably using the menstrual cup. 

Here are some more achievements: In association with India Woman Blog, we successfully carried out the Cold Period Campaign in Jaipur in December 2017. During the campaign, we managed to help 49 women switch to menstrual cup in a single day! In the follow-up round of the campaign, these women showered us with their blessings and asked for more cups for their friends and relatives.  I have conducted a large number of sessions at private and government offices, schools and colleges explaining about sustainable menstrual products. A number of sessions have also been conducted in different communities with the help of Angadwadi sevikas. 

Mouth to mouth publicity has worked like magic for me in encouraging more and more women to switch to menstrual cup and cloth pads. 

My thriving social endeavors have been covered by a lot of websites such as The Indian Woman Blog, The Better Indian and Topyaps. Many articles talking about my work have also been published in different newsletters.

I have been fortunate enough to be acknowledged for my work and interviewed by several radio channels broadcasting in Mumbai, Surat, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Dhule etc. I am glad for the fact that it helps me spread the word about my work even more!

I am glad to share that I have had live Facebook sessions and TV interviews with some renowned media houses and organisations such as Pinkathon, Lokmat and Max Maharashtra. 

Recently, I arranged two  online sessions with Indians settled in China. Conducted through an app, WeChat, I interacted with as many as 500+260 women in the session and sent RUTU cups all the way to China.

This  year, I was honoured by Lokmat Social Entrepreneur Awards 2018 for my work .  On 11th Dec i was honoured  by  BahinaBai award, for working for Women's Health, by Gurunath Foundation, Muktainagar, in Guidance of Shri Eknathrao Khadse Sir and RakshaTai Khasde. Tarunai award from Jantaraja Pratishthan, Pune. Honoured by REA Foundation, Panvel. Also Tedx Speaker, TedxKharghar,TedxTaraBaiPark,Kolhapur

 

Above all, my biggest achievement are happy sustainable menstrual product users who are also my best volunteers and a great support system. The satisfaction and comfort they have found in using menstrual cups and cloth pads does not let them sit still but spread the word around to more and more women. I am glad that my interaction helps them gain confidence that someone is with them to help them take small steps towards sustainable and happier periods. Thanks.

Seema Khandale Founder of Ashay Social Group 9930025807www.ashaysocialgroup.org

This story was submitted in response to GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.

Comments 11

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Anita Shrestha
Oct 10
Oct 10

Dear Sheema
Thank you for your good work. Keep it continue

SeemaKhandale
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thankyou Anita Shrestha

Hello, Seema,

Welcome to World Pulse! It’s such a joy to know that you are an eco-warrior and a menstrual hygiene advocate!

Thank you for sharing about menstrual cups. Reducing the use of disposable sanitary napkins are truly helpful to our environment.

Congratulations on your impressive journey from being a homemaker to changemaker! You truly deserve the awards and recognition given to you.

You can post your experiences, lessons, stories on World Pulse so that the rest of the world can learn from your advocacy.

You can also connect to other menstrual hygiene activists who are promoting their activities here.

Welcome to our growing sisterhood! We are happy that you are here!

I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

SeemaKhandale
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thanks a ton for such a great reply. Such a great pleasure it is to connect here on such a renowned platform with like minded people.

You're welcome, dear sister. Yes, it is a wonderful experience to be here.

I love the word "like-minded". We truly are. Welcome Home, dear. :)

maeann
Oct 11
Oct 11

Hi Seema,
This is my first time to hear menstrual cup. Whoever invented it is a genius. They are thinking of the wellness of women's health on menstrual hygiene. T

That is great to know that you are a Homemaker turn to a Changemaker!!!

Congratulations and welcome to World Pulse.

Jill Langhus
Oct 13
Oct 13

Wow Seema,

Welcome to World Pulse! I'm so impressed by all of your achievements, organization, work and protection of the environment, too. Accolades to you, dear!! I've wanted to switch to the cup a few times but due to mostly childhood sexual abuse I feel disconnected with my body. How do you address stigmas and trauma with women who want to switch from traditional methods to using the cup? I'm peri-menopausal so I have quite erratic periods now, but I still would like to help out the environment as much as I can. Even using applicator-less tampons has waste, and plastic, usage, and I would like to do better for the environment.

Do you have any social media page(s)? I couldn't get the links to work on your website. I would very much like to follow your work.

Thanks for sharing your excellent first post, and inspiring so many women and girls! Please keep it up!

XX

Sister Zeph
Oct 16
Oct 16

Wow thank you so much, I love your ideas

SeemaKhandale
Oct 16
Oct 16

Thanks a lot:)

Beth Lacey
Oct 17
Oct 17

Welcome to World Pulse. You are, indeed, a Changemaker

SeemaKhandale
Oct 17
Oct 17

Thanks a bunch for your lovely words:)