How many times has an Indian mother shushed her daughter after mistakenly using the M-word in public? Aditi Gupta finds herself in this situation far too frequently. To the point where the National Institute of Design (NID) new media graduate now fantasises about a future in which menstruation is no longer a taboo subject but a joyful transition in a girl’s life.
Menstrupedia, like so many great ideas, sprang from personal experience. Gupta had to deal with the stigma of buying sanitary napkins as a child growing up in Garhwa, a tiny village in Jharkhand and had to make do with rags.
She began menstruating at the age of 12 but did not learn about it until she was 15 years old when she was taught about it in class 9. She was not allowed to touch a place of worship or sit on other people’s beds when she was menstruating as a child, and to add to the misery she had to wash and dry her garments separately. She was not permitted to use store-bought sanitary napkins since doing so would jeopardise the family’s dignity.Finally, at the age of 15, she purchased her first sanitary napkin.
Tuhin Paul, Aditi’s spouse, met her at the National Institute of Design, where they collaborated on various projects. Even among the most educated, they discovered a lack of awareness regarding menstruation, and many still believed and followed menstrual myths.
What do we believe distinguishes her:
Aditi Gupta, managing partner and co-founder of Menstrupedia, and her husband Tuhin Paul devised the concept of a comic book to not only impart period knowledge in a fun way but also to erase the taboo associated with the natural biological process. Gupta has a profound knowledge of the discomfort people feel when discussing period-related stigmas, having been on the receiving end of such stigmas as a child. “As a result, I’ve been dedicated to dispelling period myths and taboos with Menstrupedia,” she explains, a project that combines comic books and other relevant media to de-stigmatize menstruation. Seven countries have welcomed the renowned businesswoman so far to discuss her work model in the sector.
Highlights of her journey:
Gupta is a 30-Under-30 achiever and a TED Speaker. She was also designated as one of the BBC’s 100 most influential women in 2015, as well as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum. Gupta and Paul launched a crowdfunding effort to raise funds for the comic’s printing after establishing themselves in the online world. Recently, they received an investment of 50 Lakhs for 20% equity through Shark Tank India. They always get the comics checked by a gynaecologist for medical accuracy. Menstrupedia is now regarded as the most inventive company in the world when it comes to educating and learning about periods. “We’re making it easier for parents and teachers to overcome their inhibitions and teach young girls at the correct age by creating instructional resources,” she says.
Menstrupedia is a complete guide to periods. It is accessible in 17 languages and is being used as part of the curriculum in over 11,000 schools across India. The booklets are also used to teach and learn about menstruation in 20 nations throughout the world. In addition to India, the comic books are printed and published domestically in Nepal, China, Hungary, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, and other South American countries.
“The amount of international orders we get makes us realise the taboo is everywhere,” Gupta says. “Our plan is to build an educational infrastructure, not only for girls but for everybody, to talk about periods in a friendly, freeway. I know it’s going to take decades, but eventually, I want to raise a generation of girls who are period positive when they become mothers. When they raise their own girls, period taboos would just vanish from that generation — they wouldn’t even know such a taboo existed.”
Aditi Gupta is an inspiration to all women, whether they live in big cities or small areas. She had a dream and now she turned it into reality. Let us make a promise to ourselves on this Women’s Day to never dismiss menstruation. Let us be proud of the fact that we menstruate!!
For further information on menstruation, attend Pankhuri’s masterclass in collaboration with Peesafe. Happening on the 8th of March at 05:00p.m. onwards.
To register for the masterclass, click on the image below.