This entrepreneur’s venture integrates menstrual health with sustainability and advocacy5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Indian landfills hold around 12.3 billion sanitary napkins amounting to 1,13,000 tonnes of menstrual waste. Now, that’s a lot of waste! But what is the alternative?
Refresh your memory by clicking on the image below:
Owliver brings to you a conversation with Sonal Jain, the co-founder of Boondh, a social enterprise working on Sustainable Menstrual Products, Menstrual Literacy, Advocacy, Policy and Programming. Through its products and advocacy programmes, Boondh has reduced menstrual waste by 3,65,75,000 kilograms!
Let’s get to know the trailblazer, shall we?
What does menstrual health mean?
Menstrual health refers to the wellbeing of menstruating bodies including their access to healthcare and remedy for menstrual discomforts, conditions and disorders. It includes psycho-social wellbeing which means having a healthy mental & emotional relationship with one’s menstrual process that involves our family, society and other human beings (menstruators and non menstruators).
How did your journey as a menstrual health advocate begin?
At age 13, I began questioning the menstrual practices in my family. Menstruators were expected to clean their own dishes and do their own laundry and this was unacceptable to me. Adding to it, I experienced crippling pain every month and needed painkillers and rest to get through the first two days. So first, I advocated for my own rights, then for the rights of menstruators in my family (for my mother and sister to go into the kitchen when on their period) and slowly built a movement around it by talking about it to friends, in groups of acquaintances, workshops and sessions.
Click on the image below to know more about Sonal’s journey.
What do you consider as your biggest achievement?
My ability to overcome challenging financial situations at home and get myself quality education through scholarships, sponsorships and later working odd jobs. It taught me that I carry within the potential to harness positive changes to my reality. I learnt to mobilize resources early in life.
I would also like to emphasize on education out of schools/ formal learning environments. I learnt a lot from books, debates, pen friends, interest groups, internet and people on the internet.
Walk us through the journey of starting Boondh.
I used a menstrual cup and fell in love with it. I wanted more menstruators to experience this amazing feeling and started talking about it in public spaces and closed circles where I was anyway chatting about PCOS – a menstrual condition I had; I realized that there is lack of education about menstrual cups in India and a bigger lack of options for this product. I wanted to start an organization that made pocket-friendly period cups and also spoke about menstrual stigma and health-related disorders.
While researching about manufacturing and talking to friends, I met Bharti, a person who had started Boondh and a solo entrepreneur. I joined their team in the early months and over the next 5 years, we built Boondh with love, respect, research, lived experiences, collaborations, open mindset and are currently learning to grow as an organization.
How do you unwind?
By emptying my brain and watching a sunset.
And playing with my cat.
What are your immediate plans for the future (for yourself, for Boondh)?
For myself – I want to learn new things everyday. I am currently learning to swim in the ocean and ride waves on a surfboard. I have a bunch of books to read, and I want to learn Spanish and travel to South America to experience its culture. For Boondh – We have robust programs for menstruators in schools, offices, sports, labour-intensive professions and more. We want to make these programs on menstrual rights, menstrual disorders, menstrual life skills and reusable period products more accessible to people across socio-economic rungs in the country.
How can our young audience be a part of your journey?
-Read the book on menstrual disorders that Boondh is launching soon and set up a reading group to discuss it with your friends
-Encourage menstruators in your life to talk openly about their experiences, actively seek the support they require, and refuse tolerating discriminating practices at home or outside. Lead by example.
A message for our readers.
(Trailblazers 2.0 is a column where we feature inspiring adults who are doing great things, in their own way)
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