Indian Institute of Technology Madras students have launched a social campaign called ‘UnMute’ focused on Menstrual Hygiene Management and Self-defence against Sexual Harassment. Through this initiative, the students aim to help women speak up on these issues and also conduct awareness campaigns.
Being taken up as part of Shaastra 2022, the annual technical festival of IIT Madras, the students have partnered with Non-Governmental Organizations such as Chudar, Go-Hygiene, CRY, Sakhya and Swayam to conduct programs like Pad distribution drive in Bengaluru, online session on Gender Inequality and Impact on people’s lives, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Awareness sessions for school-going girls in Chennai are being conducted since 16th October.
Every year, the Shaastra Team attempts to identify a social issue and undertake initiatives to tackle it. This year under Shaastra 2022, the students have taken up ‘UnMute’ campaign. The ‘UnMute’ Campaign was launched virtually on 24th October in the presence of Actor Ahsaas Channa.
Highlighting the unique aspects of this campaign, Dr. Ratna Kumar Annabattula, Faculty Advisor, Shaastra 2022, IIT Madras, said, “This year the team has put tremendous efforts to execute UnMute, that primarily associates with menstrual hygiene management and self-defense for women. Having collaborated with various NGOs, the students hope to create a long-lasting impact by helping women to pursue a confident life.”
Each year, about 23 million girls drop out of school in India as soon as they start menstruating, according to a report by youthkiawaaz Also, 62 per cent of women in the age group of 15-24 years still rely on cloth during periods. Facts like these highlight the need for educating girls about the importance of MHM. The students also intend to inform girls about how MHM can be followed and give them the tools they need to do this as well.
Speaking about this initiative, Mr. Nitish Gupta, Co-curricular affairs secretary, Shaastra 2022, IIT Madras, said, “We believe that a lot of these incidents can be mitigated by informing women about some basic self-defence techniques along with helping them and, even men, understand how to assess a situation so that they can help people, even if they aren’t the ones being assaulted. As a part of our event, speakers are contacted by various organizations to talk about why women are even now sexually assaulted, empowering the women to understand the disparities in society, and enabling them to defend themselves by identifying dangerous situations and employing simple techniques”
MHM Awareness sessions – Speakers trained on the subject of Menstrual Hygiene will be invited to speak to girls/women of the target audience NGO in an online/offline mode. They will speak about the need for menstrual hygiene, how the lack of it can lead to diseases and teach how to maintain good menstrual hygiene. In the end, menstrual pads would be distributed to the women.
Self-Defence – Address on the topic of why women are even now sexually assaulted, empowering women and enabling them to defend themselves by identifying dangerous situations and employing simple techniques. The students plan to conduct a few sessions as the speakers themselves.