Along with its efforts to normalize periods, Stayfree India also encourages women to nurture their dreams of progress, no matter which section of the society she belongs to.
While almost every woman dreads her period days, there are some women who look forward to it—for some, their period is the only respite for women of the sex trade.
According to reports, for these women who struggle to find other ways to sustain themselves, their period days are often the only days of the month that they get for themselves. The DDB Mudra Group and Stayfree India thought that this break could be a way to help these women cultivate their own #DreamsofProgress. And so was born #ProjectFreePeriod.
Through collaborations with professional skill trainers, a vocational training program was created to equip these women with skills that could help them sustain themselves outside the sex trade. While finding relevant skills was the easy part, the challenge was to condense them into three-day training modules, so that three days of their periods could be turned into three days of learning.
In January, with the help of Prerana, a local NGO, the first edition of #ProjectFreePeriod was launched in the red light district of Mumbai. In the workshops since, over 30 women have been a part of this program and have been taught skills that range from candle-making, embroidery, henna-art, soft-toy making to a basic beautician course. Stalls will be put up in flea markets and malls to display the products of their newly acquired skills; to create more awareness and support for this initiative.
Project Free Period now runs through the month and has a consistently expanding curriculum of skills. These women are now finding ways to make more time to learn and hone new skills. Through recruitment drives on social media, the initiative has also put together a database of volunteers to keep scaling up this project.
The plan is now to take the training out of the classrooms, for both the women and the trainers through simple instructional videos that can be shared through WhatsApp.
As the initiative grows, Stayfree India and the DDB Mudra Group are aiming to partner with other non-profit organizations to replicate this model and access and wider database of students.
Rahul Mathew, national creative director, DDB Mudra Group, says, “To go from normalizing periods in the lives of women to using periods to normalize the lives of women in the sex trade; is a great example of the kind of power and influence brands can wield. Project Free Period turns the period from a pause to an opportunity, for these women to sustain a life outside of the trade.”