Published: 16th February 2018
#DontHideItPeriod: These out-of-the-box pads will leave you feeling bloody good
Tho best-friends have come together to raise funds for The Better India & Akaar foundation to build a sanitary pad factory will employ local women to manufacture bio-degradable, low-cost pads
In India, 88 % of women do not have access to clean sanitary napkins and the reason behind this ranges from the lack of affordability, awareness and prevalent stigma. That's where NH1 Design founder, Neha Tulsian and best-friend and fashion Designer Pallavi Mohan stepped in. In an unconventional attempt to raise funds to help The Better India and Aakar Foundation to build a sanitary pad factory in Ajmer, the two started the online campaign '#DontHideItPeriod'. They are also the brain behind the Don'thideitperiod pads, a quirky mix of ten sanitary napkins wrapped in translucent, colourful design paper with messages that are in your face. The campaign isn't just a ladies-affair and is aiming to sensitise men into the highly hushed issue. Their aim is to make people realise that menstruation should be a shameless affair and to dismiss prevalent taboos.
Period is as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping. There’s can be no human race without it. Yet most of us loathe talking about it
Neha Tulsian, Founder, NH1 Design
Excerpts from the interview-
How much of an impact has your campaign had on young people?
We are very happy with the response we have received from our campaign. As our social media insights reveal, a large number of our supporters belong to the age group of 18 to 24, followed by 25-34. As a country with 65% population under the age of 35, we are happy to get support of the youth who can and are bringing about a change in the society in various ways. We continue to receive daily messages from women all over the country appreciating and supporting the campaign. It feels great to see them proudly sharing pictures of the #donthideitperiod pads with their favourite messages and talking about period normalisation.
Bold and bloody: Apart from the packaging and product, Donthideitperiod.com, a website dedicated to the campaign invites users to join the conversation by writing their own messages on the virtual pad and share to create wider awareness on social media
How is the campaign tackling this stigma and what changes do you see in urban areas?
Even in urban India, people shy away from talking about periods. The first step is to create a shift with this audience. We are aiming to start an urban dialogue to stir the conversations around menstrual cycle with an end motive to help the rural women gain access to sanitary pads at low cost. As a design agency, we wanted to use the power of design not only to draw attention to, but help enact positive change in response to social issues around us. Period is as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping. There’s can be no human race without it. Yet most of us loathe talking about it. Look at social media. You’ll see plenty has been written to address this issue. Despite all the mediums of communication that exist we feel the first point of that communication should be the packaging itself. It lives with us hidden in our bathroom drawers. Wouldn’t’ it be fantastic if every month the packaging system can engage us in this conversation and encourage us to open up and talk about periods? We decided to take things into our own hands and designed a packaging system that allows women to embrace periods and break the ice between their dear uterus and the society.
Ten on Ten: The pack of ten pads with quotes that are blunt, honest and bloody good are hoping to change the flow of things
What is the cost of these pads?
Don’t Hide It Period pads are retailed at Rs 285 from Nykaa. 100% proceeds of the sales go towards The Better India and Aakar Innovations for setting up a factory in Ajmer which will manufacture and distribute biodegradable sanitary pads. The pads will be much cheaper than what is available currently in the market. A lot of women don't end up using sanitary napkins because of cost factors. I am hoping this will help create a small shift.
You're targeting both men and women? How is that turning out? Are your male viewers, volunteers receptive to this change?
Even before opening the dialogue we knew men should be equally part of this. Hence, both the sexes working to normalise this abnormal behaviour around periods. A man with the right ‘menstrual hygiene awareness’ would be a supportive, understanding and equipped to deal with our mood swings. A few weeks back, we observed from our Instagram insights that only 19% of our viewers are men. For an initiative that aims to break stigma and shame attached to periods, men play an equally important role. To address this, we created a post that said "Real men aren't ashamed. Period", and challenged men to repost it or even better, share a picture of themselves holding a pad. We slowly started seeing men coming forward and taking part in the campaign. The number increased when the Padman Challenge came along a few weeks later. Though day by day it seems to get better but overall male viewership and response is still quite weaker than what we ideally expected. We hope the graph only goes up and men continue to come forward and join the movement.
I think it is time that society breaks out of the taboo that is associated with women and their mensuration cycle. Every girl/woman should have access to proper mensuration hygiene. This is just a step closer to what we envision towards a world where both women and men are aware and consider it as a very important conversation that they need to have
Pallavi Mohan, Fashion Designer
A bit about these pads- who designs them, where are they manufactured and the intent behind the captions?
NH1 Design thought of breaking this taboo and re-designing the way a sanitary pad packaging interacts with its user. We wanted to turn the boring sanitary pad packaging into one that is inspiring, confident and sparks conversation. We designed a canvas pouch featuring bright red and orange polka dots with the core messaging. Each pouch contains a set of ten sanitary pads, each with a unique message so that the most natural phenomenon in the world can no longer be the most stigmatised or embarrassing one. Pallavi Mohan has lent her support to bring the canvas bags into fruition and designed an exclusive T-shirt Quoting Don’t Hide It Period with bright sequence, to embrace periods and break the ice between their dear uterus and the society.