Best Projects 2018 features all the nominated entries submitted to the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition under ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs. If you want to know the 10 finalists in this category click HERE
The Wonder Woman Project
Explain your project in details:
Our objective is to promote safe menstrual hygiene practices among women and girls, between the ages of 8 and 50. Based on existing WHO, UNESCO and governmental literature, we have designed culturally sensitive information modules, which address the fundamentals of menstruation, practices to adopt and harmful taboos about the process. We follow an Awareness Advocacy Education approach. This means that: (a) We promote awareness on menstruation, by conducting informational camps, question-answer sessions and health check-ups with healthcare professionals. Our culturally sensitive modules are also disseminated using interactive methods such as songs, plays, brochures and posters. The contents of each module are summarised in graphic-rich brochures, made in local languages, which are given out in each session. (b) We encourage the women and girls we work with to advocate for safe menstrual hygiene practices and lead discussions on the subject in their own shelter, as well as in other shelters. We believe this is the most impactful way of reaching out to other women, as many are more accepting and comfortable in voicing their issues, if they see someone from their own community lead this. (c) We work on promoting greater education on the subject of menstruation, via an active social media presence on Instagram and Facebook, where we share informational content. We also run a blog on our website, which addresses several concerns related to menstruation, and which features an Ask a Gynaecologist section, wherein people can post queries they want answered by a professional gynaecologist. We collaborate with artists, photographers and social media influencers to address common misconceptions on menstruation and raise further awareness.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Weve collaborated with over 10 homeless shelters in Delhi and Mumbai, thus reaching over 500 women. Our work has also been recognized by three national level NGOs in India, who have supported us. Weve also collaborated with the Police Secretary to the President of India to expand our operations to the North East, and are going to be conducting a series of video conferences for over 10,000 women in Arunachal Pradesh, discussing menstrual health. Our information sessions with healthcare professionals with the women we work with have had a significant impact on reducing risky behaviours among women. Weve successfully identified and assisted over 20 women who were using non-prescribed birth control medication, which was causing medical complications. We have also been able to successfully identify and treat over 150 women who were diagnosed with Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and Candida. For the past year, we have been working on a study analyzing the disparities between government statistics on menstrual health and the on-ground situation, and have been able to survey over 300 women. These surveys have also been helpful in helping us monitor our progress. On average, for every shelter home we work with, weve managed to maintain a 75% to 90% retention rate among the women, when it comes to remembering essential information on menstruation that we gave out during awareness camps. Via crowdfunding, we have been able to raise enough funds to provide 500 women with reusable sanitary napkins, which last for up to four years. We conduct special training sessions on their usage, and distribute brochures detailing their maintenance, in local languages. Weve also conducted three social media campaigns with popular artists and photographers to shed light on the harmful taboos associated with menstrual health. These campaigns have collectively reached over 10,000 people.
Sustainability and future plans
We believe that effective grassroots engagement lies in fostering agency. Thus, we follow a decentralized approach, which lays emphasis on empowering the women we work with to advocate for safer menstrual health in their own communities. We believe this not only fosters dialogue, but also helps other women be more comfortable and open up about their concerns, thus improving the efficacy of the program. Our Wonder Women conduct follow-up sessions for our modules, whose efficacy is evaluated by us via surprise visits. Over the course of a year and a half, weve found that our average 75% to 90% retention rate has been maintained in the shelters, courtesy of our shelter advocates. The women also have access to brochures and videos that weve made in local languages and stored at every shelter. We have limited operational costs, however, we do crowdfund to be able to purchase reusable sanitary napkins. Apart from crowdfunding, we run an online store, where we sell products made by the women in our arts and crafts workshops, in order to purchase menstrual health products. Thus, we have been able to foster entrepreneurship, which helps further reinforce their agency. At every shelter, we follow a Teach One Reach Ten approach, which means, our volunteers work on an individual capacity with each woman, in order to equip them with all the information they need in order to be able to reach out to 10 women in their lives. This has proven to be tremendously successful, as we often hear stories of women going back to their villages and hometowns and conducting awareness sessions, using the information weve provided. As a result, weve been able to establish a stable network of women we are indirectly reaching out to, spread over three different Indian states.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Im a 17-year-old high-school student, who started a non-profit, Art For Sale, at the age of 14, in order to be able to promote the art of the youth and use it to fundraise for social causes. I was motivated to pursue this, simply because I believe in being the change I wish to see. This initiative grew to include projects on LGBT+ rights, environmental sustainability, substance abuse prevention and now, menstrual health, in the form of The Wonder Woman Project. Ive also had the chance to work with five non-profits over the course of the years, making useful connections and establishing a network of organizations committed towards improving India. I currently work for a non-profit aimed at promoting emotional intelligence in disadvantaged communities, integrating it into educational curriculums to tackle the deeper sociocultural issues that plague children from underprivileged backgrounds. A recent success was implementing a music scholarship program to recognise and support talented children. My extensive expertise in research includes having served as a Research Intern for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, as well as Times Now, a prominent news channel in India. I plan to pursue public policy and international relations in the future, and have worked on carrying forward this passion in every capacity. Im extensively involved in parliamentary debate and Model UN, and am currently serving as the Secretary-General of my schools Model UN society. Ive had the chance to serve on the dais of international conferences organized by Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, and have been fortunate to have my work on the feminization of agriculture in rural India published and recognized. I recently won Third Place, and a $4000 scholarship for the Seton Hall UN SDG challenge, for which I proposed the implementation of SDG 16 to combat casteism in India.