Women’s bodies have been a subject of taboo since ancient times in Indian societies. Women in rural areas have very little or no knowledge about their own bodies. Hence, they remain under-educated when it comes to menstrual hygiene as well.
While the developed nations have had access to menstrual hygiene products for many decades, rural women still rely on age-old practices to collect their period blood.
The Brand Called You brings you Ira Guha, a social entrepreneur who is working very hard to ease the pains of our rural women. Ira is breaking social taboos in rural India by not only educating the women about female hygiene and period health but also helping them receive the care they deserve.
On How It All Began
On a visit to her home one holiday in 2017, Ira found out about her mother’s cook who had taken a few days off. On questioning her whereabouts, she found out something that changed her life. She found out that her cook was on her period hence, she had taken a few days off. Ira, who had always had access to the best period products couldn’t wrap her head around this. On extensive research, she found out about the concept of period poverty, and the rest, as they say, is history.
About Ira Guha
Ira Guha is the Founder and CEO of Asan (Meaning: Easy), a social venture with a mission to eradicate period poverty across the world. Prior to Asan, Ira worked for a fintech startup in Africa and was a digital consultant for Accenture in London. She has a First-Class BA in Politics from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Plastic pervades the modern world, and your period is no exception. All the period products have some or a greater amount of plastic in them. But have you ever wondered if your menstrual products (tampons/pads) are eco-friendly? Women in India alone produce 1,13,000 tonnes of period waste per year. Management and disposal of such a great amount of waste come with their own challenges.
Ira informs us about the environmental issues caused by improper sanitary napkin disposal. She also explains why inorganic sanitary products are bad for our environment.
In her research on period poverty, Ira found out that high prices of sanitary napkins prevented rural women from having access to menstrual hygiene. Hence, to avert millions of tonnes of landfill waste generated by tampons and pads and create an accessible product, Ira created a menstrual cup with the designers at Harvard Innovation Lab.
The Asan Cup can be reused for up to 10 years. It features a unique removal ring which makes it extremely easy to use compared with other menstrual cups. For every cup Asan sells, they donate one for free to a woman or girl who suffers from period poverty.
Getting proper sanitation is a right of every human being but high-cost period products make it impossible for the poorer sections of women to attain them. Instead, they rely on cheap plastic-based products or reused cotton cloth. Lack of awareness and unaffordability to buy better alternatives make them victims of several types of reproductive infections.
A healthy woman menstruates up to 45 years of age. Hence, using a menstrual cup becomes a better alternative financially and ecologically. With affordable cups that are easy to use and carry, Asan is also tackling the waste management issue caused by other period products, hence literally saving our planet from tonnes of non-biodegradable waste!
Tune in to know more about Ira’s initiative to end period poverty and get inspired! https://youtu.be/hSF_LLWcpf8