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.
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.
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.
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Key words used in the report-
MHM- Menstrual Hygiene Management
MH Day 2020- Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020