As We Celebrate Scotland, Let’s Not Forget Suhani Jalota’s Work for Menstrual Hygiene Back Home


As We Celebrate Scotland, Let’s Not Forget Suhani Jalota’s Work for Menstrual Hygiene Back Home

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

hile menstruation might still be a taboo in our country, it doesn’t faze Suhani Jalota. The stigma around it has only motivated the young activist to ensure that every woman, especially in poverty-stricken areas, has access to menstrual health products. Her hard work has now earned her a nomination for the Global Citizen Prize.

Founder of the Myna Mahila Foundation, the 26-year-old has been recognised for her efforts toward providing menstrual health products to women in Mumbai’s slums, while also nurturing them to be financially independent. Her years of persistent efforts have now won her a nomination for the Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award 2020.

The Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award celebrates young activists around the world for their work toward ending extreme poverty. They also award $2,50,000 to support the winner’s organisation. Jalota is the only Indian among the top three finalists.

In 2015, Jalota, who is currently pursuing her PhD in Health Policy and Economics at Stanford University, started the Myna Mahila Foundation to encourage women in Mumbai’s slums “to speak about the issues they are most afraid to discuss aloud.” Her NGO since continued to provide sanitary pads to women across slums and strives to educate them about this biological phenomenon with the hope to break the stereotypes and superstitions surrounding menstruation.

In 2017, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visited the NGO and spoke to the women about menstruation and the taboos around it.

They received further support from the Royal family, when Jalota was invited to the wedding to represent her organisation. Guests attending the wedding had been encouraged by the couple to donate, instead of bringing gifts to the wedding. One of the 2017 Queen’s Young Leaders, Jalota, and her work marches forward with continuous support.

Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar gave her best wishes to Jalota, calling her a “true leader… who is definitely creating a positive change.”

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar lent his support to the organisation, encouraging his fans to vote for Jalota, the process that will help determine the winner of the award.

Business tycoon Anand Mahindra, who is well-known for highlighting social causes on his platform, also voiced his support for the activist.

While Scotland has become the first country in the world to provide free menstrual products to its citizens, Myna Mahila Foundation, which aims to extend its services to 2 million women by the end of 2025, is a hope our country can hold onto for a better future.