The Badge of Courage - Himasutha Reddy
Since I was in the 12th grade, I had the chance to work for causes that really needed attention in our society. I remember even taking part in many tree plantation drives to make the earth a better place to live in. Being a part of such purpose-driven projects really gave me an insight into how there was a need for the youth of today to be actively involved in making a difference. I realised that it’s only when we work together, each and every one of us that has the tools - will things really change in our society.
So when I had the opportunity to write a research paper in my Grade 12, I knew I had to pick a topic that really needed attention - Menstruation. I never really understood why people were always so hush hush about it. I remember thinking that all across the globe, people are advocating and fighting for ‘basic amenities’ like food, shelter, water but sanitary napkins were seldom mentioned in the same equation. I also noticed that men could speak openly about all of their needs, but women didn’t have the same privilege. I wanted to change that, and through my research paper I took the first step.
I did my research thoroughly, I wanted to make sure the voice that my paper is representing is comprehensive and speaks for women across our society. I converted my research questions into different languages too!
I interviewed local women construction workers and that really helped me gather a wholesome perspective into the idea behind women not opting for a sanitary napkin or even a more hygienic alternative to old cloths.
What was another factor that I couldn’t fathom was the fact that even though the tax on sanitary napkins had been removed, that still didn’t encourage women to buy. That also led me to deduce that the stigma around it was so strong, that cost was not the primary concern.
It was the lack of education and normalcy. To me, and most other women like me - menstruation is normal and natural. It is something that's the way of nature - knowing that and also knowing that despite that there are women who struggle with this was what I wanted to change.
So after I submitted my research paper, I was trying to figure out what the next steps could be for me to propel this movement even further. That’s when I found out about TribesforGood. As I enrolled into the Young Changemakers programme, I explained to my mentor the vision and passion I had behind this project. I felt like I had finally found an avenue that aligned with my goals and a platform that could help me spread my message.
After some time of conversations, research and planning - I along with my mentors zeroed down on publishing a book - one that would include all of the research I had and would conduct on the stigma around menstruation. Literature and hard facts were the reasons that motivated me to take a stand, and I wanted to do the same for everybody else too. Not only that, this book wouldn’t be specific to any gender or unique factor that differentiates people from one another. This book would be available to men and women from all walks of life. So we as humans, could together work on breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation.
When ‘Red Badge Of Courage’ was finally published, after all the mentoring, planning and hard work - I was really proud. With TribesforGOOD I could finally act on my vision and contribute to making a solid difference.I want to continue working for this cause and make women believe that their red badge is a symbol of pure courage, and nothing else.
You can read Hima's book here