IIT-Delhi students shatter period taboos with fun games

IIT-Delhi students shatter period taboos with fun games
Highlights

In a bid to break the myths and taboos surrounding menstrual hygiene, students from IIT Delhi have designed a set of games for young girls and women to spread awareness about periods in a fun, engaging manner. 

New Delhi: In a bid to break the myths and taboos surrounding menstrual hygiene, students from IIT Delhi have designed a set of games for young girls and women to spread awareness about periods in a fun, engaging manner.

Consisting of a set of three games - a jig-saw puzzle, a memory game, and roulette, the module focuses on the basics of menstrual hygiene, such as how often sanitary napkins must be changed and how they should be disposed. "We thought of designing these games when we found out about the lack of knowledge about menstruation among women, despite the verbal awareness sessions.

The verbal sessions tend to be boring, so these women usually forget what they hear," Ritika Chaplot, who is pursuing Production and Industrial Engineering, told PTI. "To calculate the difference that these games make, we conducted a survey where we asked the women to fill out questionnaires on menstrual health after a verbal session and again, after playing these games," said Ishita Gupta, a Biotechnology student at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

"On an average, only six out of 10 questions were correctly answered post a verbal session, while engaging with the module made the women answer 8.6 questions correctly," Gupta said. A typical awareness session, conducted by these students starts with an ice-breaking activity, a verbal session, followed by games from the module. "We make the women play the games in front of us and help them out in doing so.

We keep correcting them if they make any mistakes, in order to ensure that there are no misconceptions left in their minds whatsoever," Gupta said. "I remember talking to one of the girls in an awareness session, where she told me how it was very difficult for her as a young girl to convince the women in her family to shift to sanitary napkins form the cloth piece that they were accustomed to," said Tanvi Bhamnawat, from IIT Delhi.

"This project, therefore, aims to educate not just young school girls, but also grown women in order to be able to make a substantial difference,” the 19-year-old civil engineering student said. The initiative, called 'Project Titli', has managed to educate over 1,500 women in different public schools and outside in collaboration with various NGOs so far. Almost four such sessions are conducted every week in different parts of Delhi, with another one coming up tomorrow at Uttam Nagar in collaboration with 'Protsahan', an NGO fighting against child abuse with a focus on adolescent girls.

The demand for these modules, however, is not restricted to just New Delhi. The students have sold these modules to NGOs in different states like Jharkhand and Karnataka as well. "We have made these modules keeping in mind a pan-Indian audience and we aim to break all the stereotypes and myths pertaining to this issue in every part of India, and beyond," another student from the team said. Since 2016, the students have been working under Enactus, which provides internationally recognised, experiential platform to young entrepreneurs.

The students strive to spread awareness and develop a sustainable model for production and distribution of sanitary napkins. Their target community currently is Kapashera, a small town located in the South West District of Delhi where they are producing and distributing sterilised, cloth sanitary napkins to the women.

"We teach these women how to stitch the sanitary napkins and it is they who are using them and earning the profits too," Kamya Aggarwal, a chemical engineering student said. The sterilisation and the packaging of these pads are done by these IIT Delhi students, who are currently distributing them free of cost. However, they hope to create a long-term demand to make the women of the community entirely self-sufficient.

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