1. Which is the greatest personal challenge/mental barrier you had to cross when starting Menstrupedia?
Menstrupedia started because of our own (me and my Co-founder Tuhin Paul) experience of facing the stigma around periods. So the initial personal challenge was to overcome our own inhibitions, conditioning and embarrassment in talking about the subject. We are very grateful to the kind of mentors we had at The National Institute of Design (inception of the project took place at NID during our PG course) who guided us through the project.
Next major challenge was having enough funds to sustain ourselves and the initiative as we were working full time on Menstrupedia. Our personal savings which we invested in the project was draining fast even of we moved to a very small places and cut down our monthly budgets drastically. We were able to overcome this through crowd funding.
2. Since your comic books are internationally sold, which menstrual custom/myth out side of India did you find most strange/interesting?
Considering periods as impure and menstruating women as dirty is the most common one. Ninth standard girls told me that if they swim during their periods, they would get pregnant. This was from one of the most renowned schools in Ahmedabad IB board school.
3. If there has been opposition for any Menstrupedia endeavor, and workshops, how did that criticism change/motivate you?
Business wise when we were pitching the idea to investors no one believed in it. Strangely, this motivated us so much. We knew how real the need was. Menstrupedia’s motto is to break the age old myths around menstruation so we do many workshops around discussing the myths and trying to bust them. Surprisingly, little opposition that we faced have always come from the urban, very educated class.
4. Since menstrual pads/tampons create problems in waste management, what idea would you propose for everyone to be eco-friendly during menstruation?
I truly believe that a better disposal system needs to be in place than putting the burden of saving plastic on our girls. I find the entire conversation of sustainable periods hypocritical and one sided if we just say sanitary pads and tampons create waste. How do we handle the waste needs to be discussed too. Menstrual cups changed the way I experience periods and they are the best products.
We take many workshops on cups and have partnered with organizations who educate women about cups and distribute them, but we cannot ask young girls to use them if they are not comfortable, or have cultural barriers. I have used rags myself and would not like to go back to them just for saving plastics, I would definitely save plastics in other activities but would like not to compromise on my personal hygiene and convenience. Infrastructure on menstrual waste disposal needs to be in place. Being eco friendly on periods should totally be a personal choice of every girl and women. Personally I love menstrual cups, they are the most convenient and magical product for me. I choose in for my convenience in usage and not have to deal with menstrual waste.
5. According to you what responsibilities can men take up to be period positive?
The first step is to not exclude them from the conversation of periods as boys. Secrecy about periods unfortunately starts from women when they ask young girls not to share about it to their fathers or brothers.
Male counterparts like brothers, friends, partners, and fathers are quite supportive. They are the one who can get our supplies, share work can also take great care of women (if needed) during periods. Being informed about the subject is the key to being period positive.
6. You hope for a period positive world. How do you think communities without access to your comics can change? (Such as places where shipping maybe a problem, how do you think communities can take up roles to be more responsible)?
Menstrupedia Comic and resources are one of the tools. Periods are a natural biological process, the moment people start accepting it, the myths and negative connotation attached to it, like being dirty or impure would vanish leading to a period positive world. But it easier said than done. Open conversations around periods, myth breaking, and awareness would all lead to period positivity. Not seeing it as a limiting body process but a biological once which is essential for human species to propagate. It’s also just a matter of raising one generation right. Young girls free of period taboo would become mothers who would create a period positive future of their generation and other generation that would follow.
7. What according to you is the greatest resource?
8. What do you believe is the purpose of life?
Value the life within us, happiness and leave this world in a better state compared to when we entered here.