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  • As International Women’s Day dawns, Mukul Madhav Foundation continues to empower women across sections of society

    Published on March 9, 2021

    Pune: Mukul Madhav Foundation (MMF) has been working in the field of women empowerment for more than 5 years. Women empowerment has been at the helm of everything MMF does, along with like-minded partners and creative collaboration, the foundation has been able to leverage great success in its endeavours. This International Women’s Day, the foundation supported unique causes for the welfare of our society and its women.

    The week-long celebration, which began on March 4 with supplying hygiene kits to Aanganwadi workers in Pune’s slum areas, to supporting teachers with special stipends, will culminate on March 9. The efforts include supporting Army wives at Aundh Military Station, Pune, with skilling and sewing machines and providing physiotherapy to children with cerebral palsy. MMF also supported Safai Kaamgars (women cleaners) at local ward offices, women workers from a local self-help group, and parents from Mukul Madhav Vidyalaya, with grocery kits. In addition, a hostel in Chiplun, Ratnagiri, for northeast Indian girls was supported with monthly groceries, 18 HIV+ women were provided with reusable scrap to create meaningful utility items, and the Mental Health Asylum in Pune was supported with a battery-operated food cart to cater to around 1,500 patients. To keep them engaged during their stay, it was suggested patients be given a special paper-making machine that produces paper plates and bowls for use and for sale.

    In December 2019, NGO ‘Yuva Parivartan’, who has been working with MMF since 2017 to build toilets in Palghar, Maharashtra, introduced a new project – creating menstrual huts for women. This was proposed in the villages of Gadchiroli, which is categorized as tribal, undeveloped, naxal-affected, and is one of the 250 most backward districts in the country, as designated by the Central government. Banishing menstruating women to period huts/’Kurma Ghars’, is an unhealthy practice amongst certain tribes in Gadchiroli. MMF managing trustee, Ritu Prakash Chhabria, envisaged a new concept for the same. The huts were to be called ‘Eco-Friendly Holiday Homes for Women’, to ensure they felt secure staying in these huts during that time of the month. Women should not feel that they are being punished for their menstrual cycles, and thus, should not feel they’re being punished when made to stay in the huts.

    The purpose of these ‘holiday homes’ is to empower women by making them feel safe, happy, healthy and self-reliant. Coupled with skill-development activities, these period-positive homes seek to abolish the taboo tied to menstruation by redefining the age-old tradition in both, rural and tribal areas to banish women to unsanitary huts called ‘Gaokars’ or ‘Kurma Ghars’.

    These homes can accommodate 8 women at a time, for a period of 4-5 days. The homes are equipped with comfortable in-house facilities, safe and hygienic sanitation facilities, with fans and lights.

    Further, this ‘holiday home’ campaign will also focus on skill-development, and empowering these women with the resources and knowledge to lead healthy and dignified lives. The campaign will utilise the local community halls to train women in basic tailoring. It will also have a sit-out which can be utilized to train women to stitch sanitary towels for themselves and for sale at affordable prices to nearby villages. This will create a livelihood possibility for these women and will keep them occupied while they spend their time at the homes.

    This campaign is spearheaded by Gayatri Chhabria, Trustee, MMF, Marketing & Communications Manager at Finolex Industries, and daughter of Prakash Chhabria, Executive Chairman, Finolex Industries Limited, who at a young age has the zeal and enthusiasm to support the society at large. She has been involved with her mother Ritu Prakash Chhabria actively, with the work being done by Mukul Madhav Foundation. She bridges the gap that often exists between the corporate wing and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) wing.

    Mukul Madhav Foundation has collaborated with like-minded people and entities this Women’s Day, to empower more women and support more villages. In collaboration with Project Naveli, Founder Navya Nanda, another young lady determined to make a change, MMF has joined hands on a mission to build more Period Positive Homes so that a woman never has to succumb to a room of discrimination and banishment.

    Speaking about this initiative, Mrs. Ritu Prakash Chhabria, Managing Trustee, Mukul Madhav Foundation said, “This Women’s Day is all about change and empowerment. With this campaign, we aim to bring about a change in society, to abolish the myths and beliefs that go behind the menstruation cycle. Inculcating and sensitizing children at a young age will make a difference and bring more awareness. We are happy to collaborate with Project Naveli, together we aim to banish taboos and not women.”