2016 College Women Of The Year: Suhani Jalotaby The Daily Eye Team April 26 2016, 3:49 pm Estimated Reading Time: 0 mins, 58 secs
In India, where I grew up, menstruation is considered impure, and even saying the word period is taboo. It's hard to imagine. I wanted to chip away at that stigma, but how do you change something people aren't even willing to talk about? It wasn't until my junior year at Duke that I thought I'd found the answer. I'd gone back to India to do some volunteer work in the slums, and working shoulder to shoulder with other women there, I realized that the solution was to talk about empowerment, not periods. So I launched the Myna Mahila Foundation (a myna is a talkative bird and mahila means 'woman' in Hindi) to empower and employ poor women in Mumbai. The jobs just happened to be making menstrual pads! Before, many of the women were recycling cloths, rags, and leaves—not very hygienic. I started with four women and trained them to describe how pads work so they could sell them door-to-door. My employees had never been encouraged to speak honestly about their bodies before, and now they're lifting their families out of poverty while they're at it.