To women, periods are a predictable annoyance. But, for the most part, the women at the top of the economic pyramid have no idea that, for millions of women not so unlike them, menstruation is not just irritating or an inconvenience. When a low-income Indian girl starts her period, her mother may refuse to explain what is happening to her. She will improvise by tearing up old sari clothe for rags. She may miss up to 5 days of school every month because she has no way of reliably absorbing her flow. She may fall behind. She may join the group of over 140 million Indian women who suffer from symptoms of gynecological morbidity.
The lack of access to affordable sanitary products affects over 87.5 million schoolgirls in India and puts them at an extraordinary disadvantage. However, we recognize that these issues stems from more than lack of access or affordability of sanitary products. Menstrual taboos and social stigmas, compounded with silence and shame about the wonders of growing up and the female body, means that education must play a critical role in solving this problem. Our mission is to offer these young women the opportunity to make choices for their own health and dignity by increasing access to comprehensive, culturally sensitive health education and affordable sanitary protection. Pasand is in the business of changing the ingrained use of unsanitary traditional methods for absorbing and disposing of menstrual flow. Our key weapon is education, a tool that, creatively implemented, allows us to achieve both our social and entrepreneurial goals.
The word Pasand means “a desirable choice” in Hindi. For the girls we reach, Pasand means having the choice to go to school without shame. It means having the choice to be comfortable every week of the month. It means having the choice to learn about the female body instead of being taught to fear or ignore it. It means making the choice to live a healthier life. Our ultimate goal is to change habits by giving girls the choice to go to school, maintain their dignity, and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Period.
- The Pasand Team