Breaking the barriers, Khashikha Vaddiraj, a Grade 9 student at Oakridge International School, Gachibowli, is creating awareness and encouraging women “to have a period with dignity”.
As part of her community project in MYP Grade 8, she educated adolescent girls and women on menstrual hygiene, its management and waste disposal, while suggesting solutions that would also uplift underprivileged women. Interacting with rural women in Warangal, Telangana, she was disheartened to hear about some terrible menstrual practices that could be extremely hazardous to women’s health. Through her surveys, she learnt that hygienic facilities, poor economic conditions, lack of awareness, shame, and social curbs were some of the barriers for rural women. “Menstrual hygiene is a multi-faceted issue, and the evidence compels us to address it in a holistic manner engaging not only adolescent girls and women but also the environment and society around them.” says Oakridger Khashikha.
Backed by her parents’ support, Khashika established Avadhi Foundation, an NGO committed to creating a positive impact, by educating adolescent girls and women to adopt effective and hygienic menstrual management practices that are safe for the body and mother earth. She has also conducted multiple awareness sessions to promote Menstrual Hygiene at various institutions and communities.
Intrigued by the Sanskrit language, she has named her NGO as Avadhi, a Sanskrit word meaning “period” and she works for three Missions under the foundation. Mission Sameeksha that seeks to break the silence over menstruation with awareness sessions in schools, colleges, orphanages, tribal areas, and underprivileged sectors. Mission Samraksha works to protect human health and the planet by gifting underprivileged women an ‘Avadhi Dignity Period Hamper’ with period panties, reusable cotton pads, a leak proof pouch, and an instruction leaflet. Mission Samseva aims to empower rural women with employment, by training them to stitch reusable cloth pads.
“I thank my school and teachers for molding me to lead various IB profiles throughout my education at Oakridge. Multiple activities, teaching-learning process, mentoring, and exposure to global issues at Oakridge have inspired me to go forward to serve society. All credit for my personality growth goes to my school and teachers,” said Khashikha.
“Out of shame and superstitions associated with this biological phenomenon, women are restricted irrespective of their social and economic status. I am immensely proud of Khashika for addressing this taboo subject and instilling confidence among underprivileged and uneducated women. Her efforts to address environmental hazards and empower women through employment is commendable,” said Principal, Hema Chennupaty.