In the heart of rural Guwahati, a village named Kanekshon is witnessing a silent revolution led by the Karbi tribe’s young girls. For the past two years, these girls have been actively involved in making sanitary pads designed for a two-year lifespan. This initiative takes place outside the classroom, where girls in deep blue and white uniforms are engaged in cutting and sewing fabric. Meet the changemakers of Parizat Academy, where the slogan “Bleed with Dignity” adorns the walls, welcoming visitors.
The Challenge of Menstrual Hygiene in Northeast India: In the outer regions of Guwahati, Pamohee village hosts Parizat Academy, tackling the stigma surrounding menstruation and educating rural girls about menstrual hygiene. The Karbi community, predominantly residing in the village, has long considered menstruation a taboo subject. This cultural mindset often leads girls to drop out of school after reaching adolescence due to the lack of sanitation facilities and the stigma associated with periods.
The Birth of Parizat Academy: The visionary behind this transformative movement is Uttam Teron, a 47-year-old with a mission. Teron, a science graduate from Cotton College, Guwahati, established Parizat Academy in 2003 to address the lack of education among tribal communities in the region. Initially starting with a small teaching center, it has now evolved into a full-fledged school, Parizat Academy, catering to approximately 300 students from nursery to 10th grade.
Empowering Through Education: Parizat Academy not only focuses on menstrual hygiene awareness but also strives to bridge the gap between genders and age groups. With the motto of “Good Touch and Bad Touch,” the school aims to educate children without discrimination based on age or gender. Deepanjali Bhagawati, the school’s principal, emphasizes the school’s dedication to holistic skill development, encouraging extracurricular activities and organizing science exhibitions.
Menstrual Hygiene Workshops and Beyond: Since 2017, girls at the school have been manufacturing sanitary pads for personal use and distribution to surrounding villages. Over the years, nearly 4,000 women have received free pads from the school. The initiative gained international attention when The Day for Girls, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, collaborated with Parizat Academy to conduct menstrual hygiene workshops. These workshops not only empowered the girls but also facilitated the production of cost-effective, reusable sanitary napkins.
The Manufacturing Process: Majoni Tumung, a 10th-grade student at Parizat Academy, shared the manufacturing process. The pads are made from leak-proof polyurethane laminate fabric, ensuring safety, hygiene, and reusability. Tumung mentions that they also sell these pads, priced at 80 and 110 rupees for small and large sizes, respectively, and cater to wholesale orders.
Dreams for the Future: For Uttam Teron, the dream is to reach over a thousand students in remote villages within the next five years. Majoni Tumung aspires to make affordable sanitary napkins accessible to all girls and women in the region. Parizat Academy’s commitment to breaking taboos, empowering young minds, and promoting sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions serves as a beacon of change in rural Northeast India.
Conclusion: In the quiet corners of Kanekshon village, Parizat Academy’s efforts are silently rewriting the narrative of menstrual hygiene in rural India. By combining education, awareness, and sustainable practices, the academy not only ensures that girls stay in school but also paves the way for a healthier, more empowered future. The journey from making pads to spreading awareness about good touch and bad touch reflects the holistic impact of Parizat Academy, making it a symbol of hope and progress in the heart of Northeast India.