Menstruation – the most un-talked topic in society finally has a voice, and she has raged a war against Period Poverty. Breaking social stigmas, shattering taboos and debunking all the myths she can, Dr Sania Siddiqui is a changemaker on a mission to spread awareness about menstrual health and hygiene through community service. Menstruation is a natural process, then why is talking about it a taboo? Convincing people to treat periods as a ‘normal’ thing rather than hiding it behind tags like chumming, down or happy birthday, she’s speaking out loud about the ‘P’ word which is often whispered. Considering there are societies that continue to believe in superstitions such as ‘don’t touch the pickle’ or refraining women from entering the kitchen when she menstruates, the fight hasn’t been smooth for Dr Siddiqui.
A health and wellness coach and now a menstruation activist in Pune, she started her community service journey in 2018 by joining an NGO to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene. However, unsatisfied with the way things were shaping up, she left the NGO to start her own movement. Menstrual health is a very sensitive topic considering how the bigoted predators in the societies are always waiting to subdue the rising voices. Dr Siddiqui unperturbed by the social stigmas decided to lead a one-woman army and start a conversation about periods. Aware that her movement would need crowdfunding, she reached out to her immediate networks and peers through social media and messages to raise funds.
On her own and leading a movement against societal parochialism, she established the Humjoli Foundation, started building her own brigade of volunteers and also drafted the awareness structure programmes. Naming the movement, ‘Periods - Sharm Nahi, Shamta Hai’ she wants to bring forth the concerns about periods that have been staggering behind all the myths and taboos. Several women have succumbed to grave menstrual issues like cervical cancers and it’s about time people start talking about period hygiene rather than binding women in social stigmas. Dr Siddiqui is reaching out to everyone through her community service programmes irrespective of the status. She has conducted workshops for girls and boys in school, colleges and for women in corporate organizations too. Though the privileged believe they know all about menstruation, several have been stunned to discover how myths have been instated as facts in our institution. Her workshops cover some crucial points such as the importance of hygiene during periods, what’s normal and not during menstruating, diseases, infections due to poor menstrual hygiene, taboos, pro and cons of menstrual hygiene products and so on.
Today, Dr Siddiqui along with the Humjoli Foundation is successfully leading drives through the city of Pune and has reached out to more than 10K women and girls through workshops. She has conducted over 100 sessions, trained more than 270 volunteers and distributed over 5K sanitary napkins – all in one year! And if that wasn’t an achievement already, she was also felicitated with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ Award in 2018. To speak about an issue which is deemed unspeakable in many societies takes courage, proactiveness and intense persuasion, especially to make women address genuine period-related concerns. Dr Siddiqui however, has been successful in breaking barriers and making women say ‘we are happy to bleed’.
Giving Circle is honoured to have come across her extraordinary determination to fight a war that many are hesitant to even talk about. Period poverty exists and menstrual health issues are real and here’s a changemaker who wants you to go beyond all the lines of insularity, and address the existing concerns about menstruation in society. Hats off to her dedication to engage in community service and lead an army of volunteers on her own while organizing drives and raising donations. To know more about Dr Sania Siddiqui or to join her women empowering movement, you can Contact Us on the Giving Circle.