Urmila Chanam
Posted January 19, 2021 from India

Breaking the Silence Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit based in Bangalore and Imphal in India, works on menstrual hygiene management, women’s health, and women’s empowerment since 2014 with focus on rural regions, villages and isolated and marginalised communities across India and in several countries in Asia and Africa.

With over 10.5 million people infected with Covid-19 and 152K mortalities, India became the second worst hit country in the world. By March 2020, the government clamped a complete lockdown intermittent with curfews and other restrictions across the nation to contain the infection and reduce mortalities. Understandably, our programs were impacted because field activities and events could not be organised; we focussed on using technology and media to mobilize people and spread awareness.

International Menstrual Hygiene Day 28thMay 2020

A social media splash on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube composed of videos, infographics and posters to commemorate MH Day 2020 was conducted with the help of and participated by partners Voices of Women Worldwide & VOWW TV, World Pulse, Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, India Bull Riders (IBR) and IRSP Pakistan, stakeholders, professionals, friends and followers who have supported our programs over the years. The aim was to spread awareness on a range of issues like the need to make reusable and eco-friendly menstrual products available and affordable, managing menstruation during the pandemic, men’s involvement as key in ensuring facilities and sanitary product for girls and women at home, MHM as self- care for menstruators. The theme for MH Day 2020 globally was #ItsTimeForAction.

Our website and new logo –

Our website designed by Binapani Ningombam from New Delhi and new logo designed by Ajas Anjillath from Bengaluru were launched on International Menstrual Hygiene Day.

MHM Quiz -

A quiz was organised on social media from 24th April to 24th May 2020 for all genders and age groups to test knowledge levels on women’s reproductive system, menstruation, hygiene and disposal of sanitary waste. A total of 83 individuals hailing from different corners of India participated, female participation being 60% and male participation 40%. Of the 9 winners who won prizes and certificates co-signed by Breaking the Silence Worldwide Foundation and Voices of Women Worldwide (VOWW), 6 were women and 3 men. If MHM programs engage and involve boys and men, it can serve to develop collaborations between genders and address gender inequality.

Khud Karo National Competition on Menstrual Waste Management at Household Level

A competition on the correct method of segregating soiled menstrual waste from household waste, its temporary storage and disposal was conducted from 1st August to 1stOctober 2020 on social media mobilizing participation through video demonstrations, newspaper articles,notifications to education institutions and civil society organizations. The award function conducted online on 2nd October was hosted by Founder and Director, Urmila Chanam and Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, Founder of Tosin Turns Trash to Treasure, a social enterprise recycling fabric waste in Nigeria where winners received attractive prizes, a three-bin wooden memento and certificates. A social media campaign on solid waste management and the Bengaluru model run by BBMP and partners ran parallel to the national competition and two waste champions, Purnima from New Delhi and Susheela Nair from Bengaluru were featured.

The competitions were participated by individuals from all corners of India, north, south, west and east. Even though many people from outside of India would have participated too, the plan to send them prizes by Amazon would not have been possible so we did not let them participate. Regional representation was satisfactory.

A milestone to be celebrated is the impact of our work since 2014 with boys and men and the value of engaging them in MHM and other programs on women issues, the result being their high participation in all the national competitions conducted in 2020, in MHM Quiz 40% and in SWM Competition 50%. This is an indicator that with an inclusive program strategy and implementation, the participation of boys and men will follow.

Articles written on MHM and allied domain

· Menstrual Hygiene Management sector through the years (The People’s Chronicle, 21st April 2020)

· Has anything changed in the way India talks about periods over the years? (Youth Ki Awaaz, 22nd April 2020)

· Results of the social media driven national quiz on menstrual hygiene management (The Morning Bell, 18thJune 2020)

· Management of menstrual waste at home (The Morning Bell, 7th August 2020)

· Breaking the silence- management of menstrual waste at home (The Imphal Free Press, 7th August 2020)

· Mahatma Gandhi’s do it yourself principle the central theme for a campaign on menstrual waste management (The Morning Bell, 29th October 2020)

Research, Development and Induction of New Programs

Going forward, we will be working in the areas of training and advocacy on solid waste management, family planning, digital skills training and introduction to the World Pulse program as means to achieve women’s empowerment.

Human Rights and Menstruation with Reach Lawyer

Human rights violations in the way access to water, toilets, soap, menstrual absorbents and home space is denied and menstruators are isolated and discriminated against in different parts of India were presented by Urmila Chanam with case studies on Reach Lawyer’s Friday Talk Show “Floyding: Desiccating Democracy”, a space dedicated to eminent lawyers, human rights activists and citizens on 11th December 2020 hosted by noted lawyer and human rights activist B.T Venkatesh.

Covid-19 Relief Work for Women

During the pandemic the government and health ministry guidelines made it mandatory for people to wear masks. Under our woman health and safety program, we mobilized and distributed high grade N95 masks for women working as frontline workers in faith- based organization and in the market selling vegetables and fruits in Bangalore (Karnataka) and Imphal (Manipur) between June to October 2020. Our humanitarian donors include Beth Lacey, Dupindera Sandhu, Neeraj Gopalan Pulayan, Gijo, Saktibalan Rani Mothilal, Dimpy Buragohain Puri, Sunil Thiyam, Godwin Bosco, Pramiti Bhargava, Dr. Guddi Laishram and Lamneivah Mate.

Awards received

· World Pulse Spirit Awards for Sisterhood 2020

· Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity 2020

· Felicitated on Women’s Day by United Theological College, Bengaluru, Department of Women Studies.

Our numbers for the year

· Persons sensitized through programs- 407

· Organizations collaborated with -11

· Number of social media posts - 1058

· Likes on social media posts- 49, 607

· Comments and shares on social media posts- 1733

· Number of MHM articles published-6

· Number of educative videos developed -6

· Number of donors- 18

· Awards and recognition-3

Gratitude to Binapani Ningombam, Ajas Anjillath, Nujo John, Akthar Sharif, Koppira Darshan, Sharon Mather, Olutosin Oladoshau Adebowale, Pinky Chandran, Renniesh Philip, Manish Gupta, Susheela Nair, Purnima Ch, Shah Nasir Khisro, Shazia Khan for all your help and involvement. Thanks a lot to all our donors Keshav Agarwal, Anne Seery, Madhuri Sinha and followers, too.

The campaign concludes with effect from 19th January 2021 and we will be back with our new campaign, brand new annual theme and a new national competition- all on 1st April 2021!


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Comments 12

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Joshua Oyedele
Jan 19
Jan 19

Wow, this is so huge. I took time to go through them all it's amazing. This part caught my attention "The aim was to spread awareness on a range of issues like the need to make reusable and eco-friendly menstrual products available and affordable" and also "If MHM programs engage and involve boys and men, it can serve to develop collaborations between genders and address gender inequality" you really have made a profound statement. The awards are well deserved. May God bless your good works.

Keep inspiring. Sis. Umila

Urmila Chanam
Jan 23
Jan 23

Dearest brother Joshua Oyedele,
I am juiliant to get your comment because it only proves my belief that comes from my work experience that there is no subject and social issue that is woman's alone or man's alone because we live in a society and there is wisdom in approaching to resolve them, together.
Much love,
Urmila Chanam

Nini Mappo
Jan 20
Jan 20

Congratulations dear Urmila! Sometimes I think of all the planning and processing and creativity that goes on in your mind and I get blown away! You are an inspiration and to see what you have achieved in 2020 despite Covid-19 gives one reason to hope, and dream. Many blessings of innovative productivity as you smash through 2021!

Urmila Chanam
Feb 03
Feb 03

Dearest sister Nini,
Thanks a bunch for all the encouragement and warmth, sister. World Pulse is my preferred place on the worldwide web for the sense of unity and love. Things are improving gradually, schools and colleges are opening up. I am not sure if that is because things are really better or because the government cannot afford slow down any longer. Thanks again, sister. I hope I can do more this year.
Much love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Beth Lacey
Jan 20
Jan 20

Urmila, I feel so fortunate to know you and the amazing work you do in so many areas. You are fantastic.

Urmila Chanam
Feb 03
Feb 03

Dearest sister Beth,
I am more fortunate and blessed to have a sister and friend like you to believe in my vision and plans, help me and be a source of encouragement. Much of the journey is ahead of us but it still feels good to celebrate every milestone, big and small. Can't believe its been eight years since I began 'campaigning for menstrual health' for girls/women. How time flies.

Much love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam

Wow, you've done so much despite the challenges of the pandemic, dear sister Urmila. Like Beth, I'm so glad to know you and can call you our sister. We're so proud of the work you've done. Nini is right, you bring so much hope and inspiration for the rest of us. Thank you for sharing your 2020 victories and achievements with us!

Urmila Chanam
Feb 03
Feb 03

Dearest Karen,
I am so proud of you too sister. You are the most amazing sister and I am sending you a big virtual bear hug till the time/day we can hug in person <3
Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam

Awww. Thank you, dear sis Urmila. I think about you a lot. I am grateful that we meet on World Pulse. You remain one of my many inspirations. I love that bear hug. Sending you a hug back! Love and prayers to you, too!

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 23
Jan 23

My dear Sister,
I have followed your work for some time now, and it just keeps growing and becoming more and more magnificent. You have touched so many lives, brought so much respect, women and girls for themselves and each other, men and boys realizing the part they can and must play in this cultural shift you have created across your country. You continue to prove the seemingly impossible, possible.
Giant congrats and even bigger hug,

Urmila Chanam
Feb 03
Feb 03

Dearest Tamarack,
Other sisters on World Pulse may not be aware of how involved and supportive you have been and how we have shared our lives, dreams and thoughts with each other. The woman farmer and orange cultivator from a remote village who won the annual competition and prize money for producing the sweetest, biggest and highest quality oranges in Manipur in India received a poem written by you. Can you imagine her joy and gratitude? I am grateful we have World Pulse that has made friendships like ours possible. Thanks, thanks, thanks Tam.
Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam

Morgan Martin
Mar 08
Mar 08

This is such important work! Thank you so much for sharing the update on your progress and impact, and the ways in which you persevered through the COVID shutdowns. I look forward to following Breaking the Silence channels and reading through your feature articles. The work you do to destigmatize and improve access to hygiene products is one of the first most critical steps we need to take towards gender equality. Thank you!