Championing menstrual health with an eye on Guinness

first_imgThe Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) school near Pune Airport was on Monday transformed into a beehive of activity as 1,700 adolescents gathered in the school premises to attempt a Guinness World Record on generating awareness on menstrual health and hygiene.Organisers of the event claimed that this was the largest ever group of adolescent girls and boys “under one roof” for such a awareness session. on menstrual health and hygiene.The programme was the joint initiative of the Bengaluru-based Motherhood Hospital, a leading healthcare chain specialising in women and children’s health and the Pune-based Spherule Foundation, an NGO that works on women’s empowerment and health-related issues.“We were recently approached by the Records Committee of the Guinness Book of World Records who encouraged us to conduct this event on a larger scale as we had been specializing in the field of women and children’s health. Hence, we tied up with the Spherule Foundation to conceptualize this event of educating adolescent girls and boys on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene,” said Dr. Rajeshwari Pawar, consultant, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Motherhood Hospitals.In her 40-minute address, Dr. Pawar addressed the students in a lively 40-minute speech in which she spoke of the importance of menstrual hygiene and busted stereotypes and myths associated with the subject.She said the unique initiative was aimed at dispelling the many doubts faced by young girls regarding menstruation.“The point of this gathering is to spark awareness among girls and boys on a subject often swept under the carpet,” said Dr. Pawar.She observed that a 2016 survey conducted by UNICEF in the Indian hinterland showed that 80% of the subjects stored their menstrual cloth in an unsanitary place for further use while 50% failed to dry their menstrual rags outside and in full sunlight which is an essential condition required to kill bacteria. “Our joint initiative is trying to help our society understand the importance of menstruation and how to overcome the stigma around it,” remarked Dr. Pawar.“The global silence and shame around menstruation is alarming. In India alone, 23 million girls drop out of schools annually. This translates into one in every five girls owing to lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, like availability of sanitary napkins and a logical awareness of menstruation,” said Dr. Geeta Bora, Founder, Spherule Foundation.Speaking on the initiative, Vijayarathna V, CEO, Motherhood Hospitals, said: “There is a huge societal gap and lack of knowledge on menstrual hygiene. In India barely 18% of 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins with the rest unable to afford them, often resorting to using unhygienic substances such as newspapers, sand, leaves, mud or unsterilised clothes leading to vaginal and urinary tract infections, infertility and other reproductive health complications.”last_img read more

Former Assam Cong. leaders join BJP

first_imgFormer Rajya Sabha member Santiuse Kujur and former Minister Gautam Roy joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday, less than 24 hours after quitting the Congress in Assam. Former Youth Congress president Hiranya Bhuyan joined them too. The three senior leaders joined the BJP at the State headquarters in Guwahati in the presence of Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and State BJP president Ranjeet K. Dass.last_img

Champion Mary keeps her feet firmly on the ground

first_imgMary Kom spent just about ten minutes in the Excel Arena ring during her semi-final loss against Nicola Adams, but needed more than three hours to finish TV interviews after that.From Manipur to New Delhi and London, and on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, Mary Kom is the hottest topic of discussion.I tried something different on Wednesday, deciding to listen to the live Mary Kom interviews when allowed rather than just becoming an interviewer myself. It was simply fascinating. Despite being asked the same questions repeatedly, Mary Kom did not get tired of replying.To me, it was like her coach Charles Atkinson drilling her in training sessions and she had to keep punching. I must admit that while some of the questions she had to answer were banal, not many grilled her about the tough life in Manipur.Considering that her mother and husband are in London, she decided to spend quality time with them on Thursday. She also had several interviews to give and attend meetings with people as there is a sizeable Manipuri population in London. In fact, one of the international wire service correspondents is from Manipur and she seemed to have more access to Mary Kom — or so I thought.But what has impressed me the most is that Mary Kom is answering with a degree of caution and not making any wrong statement. I had noticed in her earlier interviews in London, or when she was talking to people close to her, she made it a point to thank god. She believes firmly in Jesus Christ and has no hesitation in invoking Him before any bout.advertisementBut after the semi-final, Mary Kom made sure to thank each person. She mentioned how it was not just Manipuris but each Indian from every religion who prayed for her. “I am touched by this gesture, to know so many people prayed for me,” an emotional Mary Kom told me.Even though her Hindi is not fluent, she still doesn’t mind giving TV interviews to them. It’s so very different from the other Indian sporting stars who shoo away young reporters. But this is Mary Kom, a lady who knows what struggles in life are about and how to reach the top.It was close to 14 years ago that Mary Kom saw Dingko Singh being treated like a hero after winning gold at the Bangkok Asian Games. Dingko was taken in an open jeep back like a true hero and Mary Kom decided that she would take up boxing, a rather unglamorous sport.To be away from her family and train hard has meant that she has had to make huge sacrifices. But what has helped Mary Kom keep her head on her shoulders, as I have seen, is the background she comes from.In India, from politicians to average citizens like you and me, we have only heard about the hardships that Manipuris face in their own state. There are power cuts, rations are in short supply and you pay as much as Rs 1,500 for a gas cylinder! I am also aware that buying petrol at close to Rs 140 per litre is such a difficult thing.But Mary Kom did not speak about how people in Manipur suffer because of electricity short supply. She did, however, mention how fans at home had to travel to distant places to catch the TV signal in order to watch her bout.When Mary Kom returns to India, there will be huge celebrations. She is a role model for people from her state and politicians will also want to meet her.How badly neglected North East India is we all know, but if one big Olympic medal can come from Manipur, we ought to tap the latent sporting potential there. There is no point in setting up sports centres in metros. Natural talent like Mary Kom comes from Manipur and before he we also had star hockey player Thoiba Singh.The medal celebrations will continue for a while but not many would know that even before retirement Mary Kom has already set up a boxing training centre in Manipur.What began as a passion for excelling as an athlete has been realised. An Olympic medal is the ultimate glory and I haven’t got tired hearing or reading her interviews.Like her punches in the ring, it’s all so natural.last_img read more

Police say 43 modern day slaves from Mexico forced to clean Ontario

first_imgBARRIE, Ont. — Police say they have freed 43 “modern day slaves” from Mexico who were allegedly forced to work as cleaners at a hotel and vacation properties in central and eastern Ontario.Officers with the Ontario Provincial Police and Barrie police began investigating the alleged scam last year, culminating in 12 search warrants that they executed last week.OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum says the alleged victims were lured to Canada believing they would be offered legitimate employment and educational opportunities.He says they were instead forced to live in “squalid” conditions and made to pay their alleged traffickers large sums of money.After paying various fees to their employers, Barnum says the alleged victims would sometimes make as little as $50 per month for daily work.There’s no word on criminal charges, but Barnum says they may come later.Police say they are keeping close track of two people who were running the company that employed the foreign workers as the investigation continues.The Canadian Presslast_img read more