While there are many initiatives in India that are trying to dispel the taboo around menstruation, here’s one that is educating young women about their bodies through comics. Aditi Gupta and Tuhin Paul started Menstrupedia in 2013, and through their hard work and dedication – it is a full-fledged comic book making its rounds not only in India but in 15 other countries.
Aditi is proud that the comics are going to countries like Romania, UK, US, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and more. She tells us, “The comic was made with the Indian audience in mind – especially the cultural aspects, but other things like the biological and nutritional aspects are universal. It is so surprising that these countries have responded so well to the comic, since we don’t spend on marketing and it is mostly from social media and word of mouth that we work.”
She added, “A lot of teachers in the US and UK have ordered one or two books from us, and liked it so much that their next order was in bulk for their students.”
In India, the comics have been translated into ten languages. Through word-of-mouth only, about 75 schools in India have adopted the Menstrupedia comic as a part of their curriculum.
A commendable effort by the founders to bring menstrual education to a country where menstruation is such a taboo. Aditi told us that since she has conducted workshops in certain schools, the teachers and students have been more open to the topic, “Teachers used to completely skip the topic before, but once they read our comic and attended our sessions, the Principal of the school asked the teachers to not skip the subject.”
Recently, Aditi visited a very well-known private school in Mumbai. She realised that all the kids in the school well-known people and came from affluent families. However, the teachers of the school told Aditi that even though it is such an elite institution and has an international curriculum, menstruation was still a taboo topic in the school. Aditi was quite surprised by this revelation and was glad that every student from class 6 to class 10 received a copy of Menstrupedia.
Speaking of revelations, there are many girls and women out there who are glad that something like this is now being implemented in schools. Aditi tells us that her friends and family who are in their 20s always come up to her and tell her that if the Menstrupedia comics were available while they were in school, they would look at their bodies much differently.
While the young girls have a different feedback after they read the book and attend the sessions, “We ask them what they’ve learnt in the session or through reading the books and they always say ‘yeah, I think it’s okay to have our period, it’s natural and it’s no big deal.’” She added,
“Periods are always viewed in a negative light and it is nice to see when we are able to change the perception of young girls and women especially in villages and rural areas.”
She talks about her future plans and says, “This is our 5th year of Menstrupedia, and we are happy that the books are going to different countries and being translated into different languages” She adds, “We would like to see the comics being translated into all Indian languages, and we also want to set up a global infrastructure online for easy education on the topic of menstruation not only for girls, but for boys and fathers too.”
Pic credits: Aditi Gupta