Aunna Wilson, Executive Director and Co-Founder
Here's the story of how Aunna came to be a co-founder of Pasand.
Sunday was egg day. Each girl would receive one egg as their source of protein for the week. It was an exciting day, and the girls would combine their eggs to make delicious omelets. Aunna started to realize that some weeks a subset of the girls wouldn’t participate: no omelets and no eggs. She would push them to eat their eggs, but they still refused. After some frustration and a lot of curiosity, Aunna learned that the girls refused to eat their eggs because “it was that time of month.” Aunna started to see the girls engage in other habits during their periods; some would stay home from school, while others would engage in other food-related practices, such as not eating pickles.
Aunna’s experience living at a girls’ home in Uttar Pradesh, a region of Northern India, sparked her interest in gender issues and menstruation in India. Through a combination of ethnographic and economic research, Aunna continued to explore the challenges women face in India due to menstruation, cultural norms, and household behaviors. The more she learned, the more she felt compelled to act.
In October 2011, Aunna joined forces with Rebecca, Ashley, and Alexandra to create a social venture. They called it the Hindi word “Pasand.” Although the interpretations and translations vary greatly, Pasand is loosely translated to mean “choice” or “preference.” And that is exactly what the team sought to do: give adolescents the information they need to make choices for their own health throughout their lives.
Pasand took many shapes and forms in its early stages. Ultimately, Pasand morphed into a social enterprise creating curricula on personal health and educating adolescents in India. In the summer of 2014, Pasand piloted its health curriculum for adolescent girls in Bangalore, and in the summer of 2015, Pasand piloted a personal health and wellness curriculum for adolescent boys.
Sowmya PH, Program Manager
Read how Sowmya came to be a member of the Pasand team.
Joining Pasand was my choice. When I was young, nobody taught me about the changes that my body underwent. My family never spoke to me regarding my pubertal changes. Though I had an elder sister who had experienced the same changes, I was completely unaware of them. Having been raised in a culturally-sensitive and patriarchal family, my understanding of what it means to be a woman was different. When I pursued a Master's course in Women's Studies, I learned the realities and problems pertaining to women. It was during this time that I developed a passion to work with issues of women and children. Women undergo several problems in the names of gender, family, and society. Issues related to menstruation are always kept aside. I was motivated to identify and work around such problems. I came across Pasand, which had similar ideologies as mine. I was thrilled to see Pasand's amazing work which directly connects to my beliefs. It provides with the opportunity to bring awareness in the society through its quality education programmes.