Can we use a needle and a few strands of thread to include adolescent boys in period talk?
At first the older girls said, “Didi ask the boys to leave. They will tell everyone what’s happening here and taunt us in the basti.”
This was the reaction we got when we told the older girls from Peyara Bagan (2nd largest slum in Kolkata) that we are going to talk about menstrual health and how to make DIY reusable pads.
But as the conversation progressed, the few boys lurking behind in one corner joined us. The girls didn’t protest and instead engaged in dialogue with them. Very soon, this group became busy like an ants colony. We were surprised to see boys diligently sewing the cloth cut outs we had given them. One of them even embroidered the inner side of a pad with beautiful patterns.
I asked one of these young men what is he going to do with the pad. His reply warmed my heart, “I’m going to gift this to my mother on her marriage anniversary.”