[Monday Motivation] This Bengaluru man is working towards normalising talk around menstruation

Srinidhi SU has been working on the betterment of women since 2018. A teacher by profession, he has devoted his non-working hours to change the way people talk about menstruation.
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According to the World Bank, around the world, about 129 million girls are out of school due to poverty, child marriage, and gender-based violence. In India, about 23 million girls drop out of school every year due to menstruation.

Family pressure and lack of basic sanitation facilities in schools, misinformation, and prejudice are some of the reasons that has led to this problem.

Addressing schools’ lack of basic WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) facilities is now a critical component of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in the country.

Srinidhi SU from Rotary Club of Bangalore, Seshadripuram, Karnataka, is one of the six global Rotary People of Action: Champions of Girls’ Empowerment who has been honored for his efforts to address women’s health concerns.

Srinidhi SU

In an effort to break taboo around periods, Srinidhi has been working towards the betterment of women’s health and encourages men to discuss menstruation.

Since 2018, he has devoted himself to the health needs of women and girls in his community. He served as the Project Chair for The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) session project in 2018 and founded Project Sthree in 2019 as the Club President, a programme based around women’s health, including hygiene, thyroid and breast cancer, and HPV, as well as focussing on providing leadership and safety skills for women.

Teaching basics

A teacher by profession, Srinidhi wasn't shy about talking about the biological aspects and helping people was something he always wanted to do. Being a science and mathematics teacher for high school students, teaching reproduction was in his curriculum.

He is aware of how men are usually restrained from talking about periods in many places, especially in schools and colleges. However, Srinidhi makes sure that he talks openly to boys and girls about menstruation. That inspired him to take it up in a larger way.

“I have taken training on how teachers and other Rotary members should convey the message of menstruation. Whenever I get invited as a motivational speaker, I make sure that I talk about menstruation even if it's not relevant,” says Srindhi.

He got the opportunity to work towards women’s health when he joined the youth wing of Rotary - ‘Rotaract’ in the year 2018. The then president of Rotaract, who was his junior, requested him to take up the chair position for a menstrual hygiene project.

Srinidhi interacting with school kids

Initially, he was hesitant to take up the project as he was the only man, and whenever something came up related to women’s health, men usually step back. But he continued to work towards his mission.

In 2019, he became the president of Rotaract. During his tenure, he launched Project Sthree where he brought in the aspect of women empowerment and conducted a series of sessions and programmes.

Project Sthree

“The main objective of Project Sthree is to bring a change in the mindset of people by creating awareness and collectively rallying for safer environment for girls. We must continue to break this unspoken barrier and motivate everyone to talk about something as normal as periods, so that girls/women aren’t disqualified from being given equal opportunities,” says Srinidhi.

To date, the initiative claims to have impacted the lives of 5,000+ girls living across urban and semi-urban areas. With a team of 12-odd people, the project also plans to cover rural areas once the pandemic mitigates.

The project, which mainly concentrates on Bengaluru, has been providing leadership and safety training for women and girls, and has been running both online and offline since the pandemic. In 2020, it also offered scholarships worth Rs 10,000 to two girls with low economical background.

The team is now coming up with a manual on how girls can be independent and plans on spreading awareness on popularising the use of sustainable menstruation products like menstrual cup and reusable pads that are economical and eco-friendly.

Going forward, Srinidhi wishes to end the taboo around menstruation. “I strongly believe that today’s girls are the bearers of tomorrow. They need to be healthy. There should be a full stop put on the taboo around periods. Menstruation should be normalised and spoken about. Everyone must be aware of it,” he says.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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