‘The Crimson Project’, and the battle against menstrual taboo

The taboo surrounding menstrual hygiene hangs like a dark cloud above India’s head. Sedimentation of generations’ worth of myth, superstition and a general dearth of awareness, specifically in the country’s rural corners, has shrouded the idea of menstruation in societal shame. In an attempt to battle such stereotypes, Enactus SVC took to the streets to Rupnagar with the ambitious ‘Crimson Project.

One of Enactus’ pet projects, The Crimson Project promotes the idea of sustainable menstruation. For a little more than 2 years now, the project has distributed reusable sanitary napkins at minimal or no cost. The eco-friendly venture not only enforced hygienic menstrual practices, but also reduced the use of disposable pads which are essentially harmful to the environment. Moreover, these pads were entirely produced by women seeking employment in an attempt to be financially independent.

In early June of this year, The Crimson Project took on a special awareness drive with the aim to banish existing taboos. In a conversation with Feminist Pen, representatives from the non-profit explained how the project aimed to change minds by targeting the most impressionable minds – adolescents. Conducted under the Government of India’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, the Project held educational sessions for children between the classes of 6 and 12 on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene.

For seven days, the Crimson Project engaged children across all genders in conversational classes on menstrual health. The widely successful campaign was inaugurated at the end of May by IAS Deputy Commissioner Ms. Sonali Giri, and was concluded after a hefty run on by Additional Deputy Commissioner Ms. Deepshikha Sharma. When asked, the student volunteers at the project ensured us how the sessions conducted were designed to be both fun and interactive, sparking an interest and willingness to learn.

The classes by the Crimson Project were aimed to banish existing taboos around periods, both societal and religious ones. Students were engaged with simply narrated stories that were easy to grasp and relate to. Both boys and girls were encouraged to ask question and resolve doubts, creating an environment of ease and comfort. By the end of the session, the younger audience were equipped with a comprehensive idea regarding issues surrounding menstrual hygiene management, premenstrual syndrome, period tracking, nutritional health requirements and more. The young participants were also informed about their sexual and reproductive choices, about how to choose the perfect menstrual product for themselves, and how to take care of their dietary requirements when menstruating.