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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Lady Distributes Free Menstrual Cups, Provides Coaching in Regional Languages

Bear in mind when as a younger lady you had simply began to menstruate, the most important concern was if we stained our garments. A secret code ‘look’ was developed and handed to finest mates or another feminine to examine if there was a leakage. 

Whereas the inconvenience turns into extra bearable with age, the horror of staining continues for many of our lives. This can be a acquainted story to any lady, and it was the identical for Ira Guha, the founding father of Asan, a menstrual cup firm.

“I was fairly athletic as a child and run round. I liked being open air and was an energetic basketball participant in my college. I keep in mind being in Chhattisgarh for a state-level recreation and being on my interval. There have been no bins within the college, so I needed to carry the dirty pad in my bag,” she shares with The Higher India. 

Strolling round feeling disgusted and embarrassed all day are a few of her core experiences that formed her as a lady within the menstrual hygiene enterprise, she says. Together with her firm Asan, she has helped over 15,000 girls in 60 villages in Karnataka change to menstrual cups thus far. 

“The cup is designed to make intervals comfy for each lady. On the subject of rural girls, menstrual cups might help make intervals simpler and more healthy for them,” she emphasises. 

The inspiration of Asan 

Born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, she moved to the UK when she was 18 to pursue her larger schooling. “I used to be working as a administration advisor in London and stored visiting dwelling each infrequently. In 2016-17, the film Padman was getting very fashionable and there was numerous dialog round menstrual hygiene,” she says. 

Recalling one in every of her visits throughout this time, she says, “I do not forget that our prepare dinner was on depart and I had known as to ask the rationale. She informed me that she had a rash attributable to utilizing low cost sanitary pads.”

Curious, Ira requested her to convey the pad as soon as she recovered to examine its high quality. 

“I may by no means think about utilizing that pad, because it was very harsh and the fabric didn’t appear to be absorbent. It was at the moment that I launched her to menstrual cups. I used to be utilizing one within the UK however there have been no manufacturers on the time promoting them in India,” she explains. 

The company has distributed Asan cups to over 15,000 women in rural Karnataka.
The corporate has distributed Asan cups to over 15,000 girls in rural Karnataka.

The maid had questions and Ira patiently answered all of them. “After I requested her if she needed to attempt one as I used to be carrying a spare, she immediately agreed. Over the course of her subsequent interval, I requested her if she observed any distinction and she or he had some good evaluations,” she says. 

The maid was capable of do her work higher and in her phrases “didn’t really feel like she was on her interval”. 

This struck Ira and she or he continued to carry menstrual cups for ladies in India. “At one level, I used to be carrying 10-15 menstrual cups on one journey,” she recollects. 

“It was fairly natural, I used to be distributing them amongst gardeners within the society, extra home staff who heard about it and many others. Quick ahead a few years, I stop my job and went to check at Harvard. I used to be telling about my work in India to a professor who instructed that I ought to design my very own cup,” she says. 

She shares, “So I developed the Asan cup by working with an engineer on the Harvard Innovation Lab. We completely studied present menstrual cups in nice element, specializing in the best high quality cups obtainable globally.”

What makes Asan completely different? 

Speaking concerning the analysis course of and the hurdles she confronted, she says, “Throughout product improvement, I confronted the problem of getting qualitative suggestions on the utilization of my cups, as I had distributed many cups all through India. I wanted detailed suggestions about points like leaking, overflowing, and luxury, however individuals weren’t sharing these overtly with me.”

To unravel this, Ira included each single one in every of her mates within the consumer group. “I had girls throughout the US and UK, primarily contacts of my mates, who have been prepared to supply detailed suggestions,” she says. 

One other main problem was the scepticism round individuals utilizing menstrual cups.

“Many individuals informed me that India wasn’t prepared for such a product and that ladies ought to keep on with conventional strategies. I overcame this problem as a result of I’m a consumer of the Asan Cup myself, and it has remodeled my life. I can sleep by the evening, swim, do yoga, and run half a marathon comfortably.” 

She provides, “My expertise, together with the optimistic suggestions from my early consumer group—together with home staff and different girls who tailored to the cup immediately—confirmed me that not solely are girls prepared for this, however they’re additionally calling out for it as a result of the present merchandise are of poor high quality.” 

It’s Ira’s private expertise and the experiences of ladies round her that gave her the conviction to problem those that stated “Indian girls weren’t prepared and insertable merchandise”.

“As a lady, I knew the necessity was there,” she asserts. Ira got here out with the Asan Cup within the 12 months 2017.

The cups come with a cloth bag and an instruction manual in the local language.
The cups include a fabric bag and an instruction handbook within the native language.

A utility-based product, Ira enlists the advantages of utilizing an Asan Cup. “First, the Asan Cup prices simply as a lot as six months’ price of pads however could be reused for ten years. Secondly, sustainability: One Asan Cup’s life is the same as utilizing 2,500 pads or tampons. Thirdly, effectiveness: One Asan Cup holds as much as 3 times greater than your common pad, so you possibly can go as much as 12 hours with out altering it,” she says.

“Quantity 4 is security. Not like pads and tampons which can comprise undisclosed elements, the Asan cup is made from medical-grade silicone, licensed protected for well being.” 

“And eventually discretion and comfort. The compact measurement of the Asan cup ensures discreet use, permitting customers to keep up privateness about their menstrual cycle, avoiding the potential stigma related to seen pads or fabric rags,” she provides. 

To not point out the discount of sanitary pad waste which is reversed by means of a menstrual cup, she explains.

The right way to attain rural girls? 

To succeed in girls in rural areas, Asan additionally has a complete behavioural change mannequin.

“Now we have a programme to onboard and educate individuals on utilizing the Asan Cup. The important thing to our behavioural change mannequin is that schooling should come from a trusted supply. For instance, as somebody from Bengaluru whose first language is English, I may not be a trusted supply in a village.”

She provides, “Because of this we employed native social staff and requested them to make use of the cups themselves. They then educated rural girls on easy methods to use the cup, which eradicated scepticism as a result of the data was coming from a trusted supply.”

For each Asan Cup the corporate sells, they donate one without spending a dime, primarily by their NGO companions in rural areas. “We additionally collaborate with varied NGO companions, workplaces, and factories to supply subsidised schemes, making the Asan Cup extra accessible.”

Ira engages with girls from SHG, trains them after which sends them to villages to introduce girls with the Asan Cup.

Ira Guha, founder of Asan Cup.
Ira Guha, founding father of Asan Cup.

“Every recipient receives a clutch storage pouch, a consumer handbook of their native language, and an in depth instructional session performed by an area well being employee. Additionally they obtain the well being employee’s contact for follow-up periods over the subsequent six months. This complete programme ensures that everybody has the assets and assist wanted to securely use the Asan Cup,” she says.

To date, she has reached out to fifteen,000 girls in 60 villages in Karnataka and Kanakapura. “Each single lady in these areas are utilizing the Asan cup,” she says. 

Nagamma, 36, who hails from Kanakapura, complained that she will be able to’t put on her favorite white sarees fearing stains throughout her intervals. 

“However I’ve been utilizing the Asan cup for a number of months now and the situation has modified. The road between the interval and non-period days has blurred. I’ve beneficial it to my niece now as nicely. The pads used to present me rashes on the thighs however now there aren’t any such points. The very best half is I put on no matter color saree I would like with none concern of stains,” she says. 

Jayalakshmi, 38, highlighted that she needed to put the used pads in a plastic bag and burn them. “I had no different alternative, I simply burned them when nobody was watching. However not with the Asan cup, there isn’t any want for that. Moreover, I used to hate travelling to work whereas sporting a pad within the warmth however now I don’t really feel any discomfort,” she shares.

Whereas Asan constantly reaches girls in rural India, Ira believes that her work will not be over. “There are nonetheless a whole lot of hundreds of ladies utilizing rags and missing any entry to menstrual hygiene. If even one lady is with out entry to menstrual hygiene, my job will not be over. As an organization, we need to eradicate interval poverty in India.”

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(Edited by Padmashree Pande; All photos credit score: Ira Guha)

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