Palak Goel is an Advocate not only by profession but also embraces it through her passion for educating women in subject of menstrual hygiene and has transformed this drive of hers into curating an NGO by name of Menstrual Awareness and Hygiene Initiative, i.e. MAHI. Today, we are in conversation with her to know more about the working and impact of the initiative.
Miss Palak, when did you come up with the idea to pursue the creation of this NGO and what inspired you?
I always wanted to contribute towards uplifting women and creating awareness on this issue, as when I was young, I too felt the burden of the myths in my family every now and then and I always thought if I am finding myself in these conditions even after coming from an urban and educated family, it must be daunting for the poor women and girls in rural areas and therefore, I must do something about it.
And about the idea, it really hit home when I participated in a debate competition on the gender equality back in law school where the points raised by the competitors made me ponder deeply on the taboos and myths in the society in regard with menstrual hygiene and hence, I wanted to create a safe space for women to talk about their problems openly.
What is MAHI about?
At MAHI, we work towards making sure that girls have access to menstrual supplies by providing free Re-Usable Sanitary Pads, biodegradable pads and menstrual cups among unprivileged Household Women & Young Girls. Simultaneously, we are aimed at teaching girls what menstruation is and what to expect from it through various camps and seminars that are conducted throughout the year as we believe that “Every girl deserves the dignity of self-knowledge and understanding of her body”.
So, as I talked earlier, we organised seminars for girls in middle and high school, educating them about good habits that can be taken up during their monthly cycles like basic iron rich diet, exercise and so on, furthermore, we also conducted online sessions in collaboration with Lioness Club taking the issues on a higher levels and discussing them in an open and safe environment.
I will also like to mention our campaign to adopt 100 girls from rural and urban areas and providing them with Sanitary Kits that include masks, soaps, garments, pads and sanitizers.
So far, we have distributed 15000 pads, 2000 sanitizers and conducted more than 10 sessions among other goals.
Though your contributions have been undoubtedly valuable, were there any struggles on the way?
Definitely, when we started off, people weren’t open to our initiative especially in rural areas where women and girls resisted from our products and it was difficult to find collaborations but as time passed our changes were welcomed more than ever and we found collaboration via Municipal Corporations and Panchayats who helped us to identify right crowd to educate.
How are you moving forward with your initiative in COVID pandemic?
As it is impossible to have seminars in person , we hold Instagram Live with clinical dietitians and doctors, along with that we have distributed fruit baskets and ration in poorer areas of the town and also distributed about 4000 masks and sanitizers.
What are your future prospects at MAHI?
We are looking forward to create a YouTube channel to provide all information at one place to make it convenient. We also want to create employment for women in rural areas and urban slums by manufacturing our very own cotton pads.
Well, thank you so much for your time and effort and I wish you well for what comes next.
Thank you for having me!
You can find more information on MAHI at their website