How was it like to celebrate International Menstrual Hygiene Day during the pandemic and lockdown?

Urmila Chanam
Posted June 15, 2020 from India
Winner Premila Lamabam from Imphal, Manipur with her prize from MHM Quiz
Winner Premila Lamabam from Imphal, Manipur with her prize from MHM Quiz: " Participating was a great experience. Thank you for such a beautiful opportunity. But, being thankful isn't enough, and I pledge to honor the knowledge and encouragement I got from you to spread the awareness breaking those old myths amongst our people. Thank you once again, lots love and gratitude." 15 June 2020 (1/18)

There was a nationwide lockdown going on, on 28th May 2020 the International Menstrual Hygiene Day making it impossible to organize any event unlike other years when different events would be lined up for the day across India. Breaking the Silence Worldwide Foundation organizes the annual bike rally Men Take Lead Ride in Bengaluru, a city in southern India to commemorate this important day every year but this year it had to be called off even though we kept on pinning all our hopes that the spread of the pandemic would decline or at least, halt. Till the last moment, we refrained from cancelling the event pages, hoping things will get back to normal, only they didn't.

Breaking the Silence Worldwide Foundation has always been guided by the World Pulse vision and program of impacting solutions using digital technology and conducted an online experience for viewers starting all the way from 24th April to build up till the MH Day including activities as mentioned below as anything else was not feasible with the lockdown.

We dedicate MH Day 2020 celebrations to World Pulse for its work on ensuring girls and women around the world receive digital skills training and digital empowerment so they may be linked to opportunities.

1. A social media splash on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube was organised to raised awareness through poster- based messages from key stakeholders and individuals on menstrual hygiene management on varied topics such as -

  • Myths and taboos and its harmful effects on girls and women,
  • Making reusable and eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products available ‘everywhere for everyone’,
  • Human rights of sanitation and water for menstruating girls and women,
  • Need for multisectoral collaboration for a more effective MHM programming,
  • Periods in pandemics,
  • Men’s knowledge on menstruation is key as it is also their business as they have girls and women in their lives as mother, sister, friend, wife, daughter and colleagues,
  • The biggest lesson the pandemic has taught to everyone is how it must feel to be ‘isolated’ during menstruation for fear of infecting/making others impure,
  • Understand a world where men menstruated and conclude how gender inequality plays out,
  • Importance of care during periods,
  • MHM for girls and women as self-care and self-love for being givers of life

2. During the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown in India called from March 24th onwards since all the field activities had to be suspended we took a decision to focus on online programming. Fortunately, Breaking the Silence Worldwide has been conducting successful social media and media campaigns since 2014 so it was not a big challenge. In this period, majority turned to webinars, twitter chat and video- based communication. The model of programming we employed was intended to mobilize interest, curiosity, information, involvement using social media with a long term objective of building a cadre of MHM champions through the MHM Quiz conducted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram between 24th April till 24th May where winners were announced on 28th May International Menstrual Hygiene Day and prizes and certificates given to them. The certificates were co-signed by Urmila Chanam, Founder of Breaking the Silence Worldwide Foundation and Sharon Mather, co-Founder of Voices of Women Worldwide and VOWW TV. The MHM Quiz was available on the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages of the organization and on World Pulse and LinkedIn too. The purpose of the MHM Quiz was to develop curiosity in persons from all genders, help people check their information level and help them take the first step in ‘breaking the culture of shame and silence’ on menstruation by bringing it to the public domain. Who was being impacted by this initiative? Girls, boys, women and men on social media and who have access to digital technology.

  • 83 participants
  • Number of female participants= 50
  • Number of male participants= 33
  • Percentage of female participation= 60.24%
  • Percentage of male participation= 39.76%
  • 9 winners
  •  6 women winners
  • 3 men winners
  • Different parts of India participation
  • Thousands reached through social media posts, newspapers, web media forums shares and word of mouth.

A winner Sivakami Muthusamy from Mumbai says

“I work in Tata Institute of Social Sciences and I participated because menstrual hygiene management is close to my heart. Winning or losing does not matter honestly. I felt the urge to participate to generate the attention.”

Winner Karan Babbar from Ahmedabad, Gujrat a PhD student from IIM Ahmedabad says

“This is indeed one of the great achievements.”

Winners received special prizes picked up keeping in view what would interest both the genders and be of utility at the same time. We also had to consider that markets were closed, post offices and private courier services suspended and interstate transportation at a stand still. A set of (4) mason jars with lid and straw were delivered to the doorsteps of winners via Amazon and certificates through e-mail.

Many participants expressed excitedness over the competition, looking at the participation increasing over time, the announcements and sharing of identity of the participants and many of them shared posts related to MHM Quiz and final results declaration. Male participants also got involved with ease because Breaking the Silence program involves men from the start through its Men Take Lead Ride program. Two school students participated Ningombam Bijyalaxmi, a female student of class 11 from Imphal, Manipur and Sailesh Ningthoujam, a male student of class 8 from Imphal, Manipur. Few participants expressed the need for such educative and engaging online quiz and program that engages all the genders and not just women.

Website launched

We launched our website http://www.breakingthesilencereddroplets.com/ on International Menstrual Hygiene Day and hopefully it will serve to enhance the visibility of our programs and efforts. The website has been developed by Binapani Ningombam, a software professional based in New Delhi and is a voluntary contribution from Binapani who pays annually for keeping the domain name. We are indebted for her contribution and she serves the mission as the Head of Communications of Breaking the Silence Campaign Worldwide Foundation and is part of the core team of the organization.

Social Media Live Announcement on MH Day 2020

We announced our next national level competition to begin from 1st July till 1st October and where we will give 10 prizes and certificates to all the participants.

The MH Day 2020 online celebrations was linked to the global MH Day observations anchored by WASH United, MH Day Secretariat, Menstrual Health Worldwide and other consortiums.The theme for MH Day 2020 globally was #ItsTimeForAction.

Voices of Women Worldwide &VOWW TV, World Pulse, Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, India Bull Riders (IBR), IRSP Pakistan and Men Take Lead Ride Core team extended full support to the execution of the MH Day 2020 online program.

                                                                                         * * * * *

Key words used in the report-

MHM- Menstrual Hygiene Management

MH Day 2020- Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020

Comments 20

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Jill Langhus
Jun 15
Jun 15

Hello Urmila,

How are you and your family doing? Too bad that you weren't able to do your usual campaign this year, but it sounds like you were still able to do quite a lot. Your new campaign website is also very nice, too, and a great accomplishment in itself. Is there a significance with the mason jars for the winners? Thanks so much for sharing your update, lovely photos, and campaign video. Hope you and your family are doing well.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 16
Jun 16

Dearest sister,
We are doing well as good as a person can probably do given the circumstances. The city I live in has high spike of Covid-19 cases and every week, rules and regulations seem to keep on updating causing much confusion and stress to keep abreast. But we have to keep positive and lay priority on health and safety.

I am glad I always reserved one leg of my initiatives on social media and print and broadcasting media. I have always believed in the power of communication and knowledge management and perhaps, that is why I am still able to organize mass awareness in this period.

What we are in store for, no one knows, sister but I know mankind has learnt a lesson on environment conservation, animals rights and the need to invest our government resources on public health

Much love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Jill Langhus
Jun 17
Jun 17

Hello Dear:-)

That's good to hear. Oh, dear:-( Yes, I agree.

Hang in there, dear!

Well, you did very well, especially in spite of all the turmoil there.

That's true.

Take care. Sending love to you, Bun Bun and the rest of your family. XX

Beth Lacey
Jun 16
Jun 16

So much valuable work you are doing! Stay safe and well.
XXOO

Urmila Chanam
Jun 16
Jun 16

Dearest sister Beth,
Though the usual program implementation may not be available, we still can do a lot. Thanks ever so much for your friendship and support to my work.
Much love always,
Urmila Chanam,
India

Chi8629
Jun 17
Jun 17

Thank you for sharing .
You are so amazing and
We love you so much.
Please stay safe and warm.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 18
Jun 18

Dear sister,
Love is such an enabler. It makes my heart sing, and the world look so much better. Thank you for being able to spread love and say the golden words. May god bless you.
Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Chi8629
Jun 18
Jun 18

God bless you too dear sister.
Please stay safe out there.
Much love Chi.

Thelma obani 2020
Jun 18
Jun 18

Thanks for sharing.

Urmila Chanam
Jun 19
Jun 19

Dearest Thelma,
I am glad you read my submission sister :) :)
Much love,
Urmila Chanam

Anita Shrestha
Jun 18
Jun 18

Thank you for sharing

Urmila Chanam
Jun 19
Jun 19

Dearest Anita,
I am so happy to see your involvement and love for World Pulse. Thank you for reading, sister. God bless you.
Prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Hello, sister Urmila,

Wow, just wow! Even COVID-19 cannot stop you, dear sister! Congratulations on the successful activities you had for the Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020. I think this is a great entry for #SheTransformsTech Call for Stories.
I am so proud of you, dear sister. Congratulations, too, on your website! You'll impact more women and girls, men and boys, as your foundation, network, and website grow wider.

Thank you for inspiring us always, dear Urmila. I was not in social media for a few months during this pandemic so I was not able to follow your campaign. Thank you for this update. Keep up your awesome movement! Please stay safe always!

Urmila Chanam
Jun 19
Jun 19

Dearest sister Karen,
You know what I love the most about you? Your honesty in understanding your responsibilities and making sacrifices needed for them. Your children are so fortunate to be raised a mum like you. Your staying off from social media is for the care of your young children, I know. Thank you for your kind and understanding words and for your encouragement and appreciation.
Much love always
Urmila Chanam

Tamarack Verrall
Jun 20
Jun 20

Dear Urmila,
I have watched your campaign grow over the years and am continually inspired by you. I love your red splattered T Shirt, and the reasons you chose the date for awareness. Despite the covid restrictions you have nonetheless raised awareness and respect once again. Big congrats!
Much love,
Tam

Urmila Chanam
Jul 20
Jul 20

Dearest sister Tam,
I am so grateful to you for your friendship and to World Pulse which connected us. Girls and women across the world experience barriers all through their life stages which are crafted by society and its traditional norms. It was here on World Pulse I understood the importance of challenging norms that harm us and demonstrate a new norm. My work has been based on that and sister, thank you for always being there when I needed you.
With love and prayers from India,
Urmila Chanam

Julie Desai
Jun 23
Jun 23

Thanks for sharing

Urmila Chanam
Jul 20
Jul 20

Thank you for reading my post. Take care xoxo

Mohinder NGO Founder

Dear Urmila, congratulations on your work on this important cause and your determination to get your advocacy messages out in spite of the lockdown. I am writing a report on the impact of COVID 19 on girls with the aim of helping ensure that when governments prepare their post COVID 19 recovery packages, they will put girls at the centre. As well as understanding the challenges the pandemic has brought, it will also be good to balance it with the resilience girls and women around the world have shown and I would appreciate including your story as an example of that. Please could you contact me? Mohinder Watson, Founder Action on Child Early and Forced Marriage. Email address: [email protected]
Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you, best Mohinder

Urmila Chanam
Jul 20
Jul 20

Dear Mohinder,
Thank you for your kind words. World Pulse mentors women across the world to identify their resources, work in different conditions and use of digital technology and networks to impact the world. I have been a community member since a decade and recipient of trainings, leadership programs and roles given to me. My work on menstrual hygiene and women empowerment rest on the values given to me from World Pulse. I have shared my e-mail with you on mail on World Pulse for further discussion on your need.

In solidarity,
Urmila Chanam