Balconagar; 4th June 2024: Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), India’s iconic aluminium producer and a part of Vedanta Aluminium, led the communities around its operations on a weeklong observance of Menstrual Health & Hygiene Day (May 28). The initiatives included several grassroots activities aimed at breaking the stigma associated with menstruation and promoting sustainable menstrual health management practices in the rural areas of Korba district, Chhattisgarh.

During the week, BALCO commenced the ‘Supporting Green Periods’ initiative, a capacity building effort coupled with employee volunteerism to promote sustainable menstrual health practices among rural women. The activity aimed to empower women from economically vulnerable families by training them to stitch their own reusable cloth pads, thereby addressing the challenge of period poverty. Reaching over 1,500 adolescents and adults through innovative learning methods, the activities during the week also included traditional games and infotainment sessions that sought to spread awareness and spark open conversations around menstruation.

BALCO, through its project Nayi Kiran, has positively impacted over 60,000 people, undertaking a series of menstrual health awareness initiatives with the objective of improving awareness and fostering sustainable hygiene practices during menstruation.

Maa Beti-Saas Bahu Samelan: It is an innovative human version of the ‘Snake and Ladder’ board game that seeks to facilitate a dialogue on menstrual health. This gamified approach enables women to engage in meaningful conversations, addressing myths and facts about menstruation that either advanced or hindered their progress in the game.

Ratri Chaupal: It is a unique edutainment approach to engaging the community by screening thought-provoking films about menstruation. These films are intended to spark conversations about the behaviors and practices of the characters depicted in the movies.

Chai Pe Charcha: An expert-led session conducted by nutritionists to educate rural women with comprehensive understanding and role of balanced diet to fight the incidence of anemia. Furthermore, the sessions concluded with routine health check-ups of over 500 women led by Gynecologist Dr. Gyatri Sharma for better Menstrual Health & Hygiene Management (MHM).

Safe Spaces Campaign: An initiative partnering with service providers of period products, hospitals, and clinics in target areas to foster openness and mindfulness about menstrual health. By using “Safe Spaces” stickers to challenge societal norms, the campaign promotes awareness and encourages taking a pledge to openly embrace menstrual conversations and transparent packaging.

Institutionalizing Change through Collaboration with Government Line Departments: This initiative seeks to facilitate knowledge exchange and deepen the understanding of MHM with the support of government line departments such as Women and Child Development (WCD), achieving collective goals, with the knowledge and skills necessary to address MHM effectively at different levels.

Emphasizing the importance of health, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, CEO and Director of BALCO, said, “We believe that the health of our community is the foundation of sustainable progress. Through our comprehensive CSR health initiatives, we are committed to ensuring access to quality healthcare, promoting wellness, and building a robust health infrastructure ensuring an equitable life. Through our Project Nayi Kiran, we are empowering every participant to become an ambassador of change while fostering a safe environment for women during menstruation.”

BALCO’s efforts towards enhanced Menstrual Health & Hygiene awareness have been recognized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), which awarded BALCO with the prestigious ASSOCHAM Award 2024 for ‘Maximum Impact by CSR initiative in Menstrual Hygiene-Corporate & PSUs’ on the occasion of World Menstrual Health & Hygiene Day 2024. The project has been recognized with several other awards, a testament of its impact:

• Socio Corp CSR Film Festival & Awards- Best Healthcare Excellence CSR Film – “Sarika Dondro ki Nayi Kiran”- 2023
• ‘Best CSR Initiative on MHM Award’ in the Third MHM India Summit 2023 (The largest conclave on MHM) by Gramalaya.
• SABERA in “Health, Nutrition & Wellbeing” for Community Health Initiatives
• 4th ICC Social Impact Awards 2022 for HealthCare

Project Nayi Kiran was initiated in 2019 in partnership with Sarthak Jan Vikas Sansthan (SJVS). The project aims at demystifying menstrual myths and taboos while promoting sustainable hygiene practices during menstruation, raise awareness about product choices and impart trainings to ensure a safe reproductive health.

Since its inception, Nayi Kiran has sensitized 60,000+ people through awareness generation and training in 45 villages of Korba. 600+ community members ranging from adolescent boys & girls, SHG women, and frontline workers (Anganwadi & ASHA workers) have also been taught Menstrual Health Management, enabling them to emerge as master trainers and torchbearers of change in the community.

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