How the Bleed Eco project brought about a sanitary change on the campus in a year
Entering the poorly-maintained washrooms on the Jadavpur University campus during periods has been an ordeal for women for years. Well, not anymore.
Early in 2020, an undergraduate student’s decision to get people together and raise awareness about the unhygienic washrooms for women and their menstrual health has brought about a sea change on the campus.
Melanie Dhar’s initiative has blossomed into the ‘Bleed Eco’ project and altered the look of the washrooms on the Jadavpur University premises.
How it all started
Started in February 2020, the ‘Bleed Eco’ project has completed one and a half years with help from different quarters.
“After being struck by the idea, I conducted a workshop for my class and made a comprehensive presentation on the know-hows and use of menstrual cups,” said Melanie.
She attended a menstrual hygiene workshop, organised by Youth Ki Awaaz, a user-generated Indian youth media platform, which made her resolve to take her idea further and focus primarily on the student community in Kolkata.
The second-year student of English also conducted a detailed assessment of those who wanted to volunteer for the project. This is how Melanie’s one-woman project has grown into a collective of 35 people from the University of Calcutta, Presidency University and St. Xavier’s College Kolkata.
This eye-catching hashtag on Instagram and Facebook eventually developed into a campaign. Under #periodsinJU, women shared the difficulties they had faced on campus during their menstruation cycles due to unhygienic washrooms.
“When Melanie and her team approached me for this campaign, the only thought that occurred to me was why did I not talk about this before?” said Debashruti Banerjee, a first-year master’s student of English at Jadavpur University.
And while the English department was willing to speak up for cleaner washrooms for women on campus, other departments were not as forthcoming.
The plan ahead
When the lockdown was lifted for a while at the beginning of 2021, Melanie and her friends visited the Jadavpur University campus. They were in for a pleasant surprise—the washrooms were being renovated and made more hygienic with instructions from the varsity administration.
“Our main aim is to make cleaner toilets accessible to all. We also want to raise awareness about sustainable menstruation, something that we have already been doing through our Instagram page”, said Suchetana Phani, a second-year undergraduate student of English at Jadavpur University.
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