It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a….sanitary pad movement? Okay!

If I had the desire to spend $3.99 of my poor little college student stipend on streaming a documentary from the internet (provided that my computer would even let me do such a thing), it would be on “Menstrual Man”. Who is Menstrual Man, you might ask? Only a simple man in India who singlehandedly transformed his silent revolution into a life-changing movement for women who do not have basic sanitary needs available to them during their menstrual cycle!

Yeah, I know!

I’m actually floored by what this man has done for thousands of women in his region of India. Arunachalam Muruganantham, an uneducated social entrepeneur, invented — INVENTED — machines to mass produce sanitary pads for the women in rural communities of India. This is huge because the majority of sanitary pads are imported from foreign countries and are exorbitantly expensive for these women. Often, they opt to use old rags or even husks to handle their monthly bleeding and save money.

Image Detail

The caption within the image answers the question, “How many women in India use sanitary pads?”

Muruganantham created a simple machine to sell to women’s groups in India so that they may produce their own pads and sell them for a small profit. The machines are built with a minimum amount of complexity, and parts that the rural women are able to repair, should it break down at any point.

In this NPR article, the writer goes on to explain that this man was subject to such public scrutiny and skepticism that even his wife doubted his motives. She thought that her husband was cheating on her, and his project thus ended his marriage. At a great personal cost, Muruganantham began a revolution in India that will have an unimaginably huge impact on the women of his country moving forward.

Image Detail

Muruganantham deals with the social stigmas of his project.

By providing women in India with affordable sanitary pads, personal hygiene can take a huge step forward, as well as improving the amount of independence and freedom that women have in their daily lives. Rather than remain limited to indoor activities or avoiding travel during their menstruation, these women have access to a more comfortable alternative in an environment where unhindered movement is at a premium.

It is an empowering movement and an excellent example of how men can help along the upward climb of women in all societies. Something that seems as simple as feminine hygiene can prove to be a real problem in other parts of the world, and I will be the first person to admit that I never really understood the gravity of the situation until I came across Menstrual Man and the work that he has done.

Image Detail

Because of their ease of use, Muruganantham’s machines have been bought by women’s groups who can mass-produce the pads. It is possible for these groups to raise more than one dollar a day, which nears the global poverty line.

One man risked his integrity within his community, his love life, and his own image to help women in dire need of proper feminine hygiene. The female menstrual cycle should not be a taboo subject, especially when acknowledging it can have such a critical impact on women around the world.

Thank you, Arunachalam Muruganantham, for reminding everyone that women are worth fighting for!

 

 

 

Body Language…what are you saying?

dove_say_it_with_body_language

This will sound awfully out-of-place, especially for someone so young as myself, but over the years you begin to realize how many things you take for granted. Clearly, this isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this, because otherwise this blog would not have gotten off the ground. There are perspectives, social practices, and human behaviors that you just flat-out forget about while going through the motions of daily life. Recently, I have been taking a communication class that has placed significant emphasis on body language, and it made me realize how dependent we are on this facet of human communication.

By dependence, I don’t mean it in a negative way at all. Communication is enriched by face-to-face interaction with people, and body language adds a depth of understanding and dynamism to each conversation that people have with one another. There are simply a great number of factors that play a part in how humans communicate with each other on a regular basis. I find body language so interesting because it is generally unconscious behavior and we don’t realize how much our body language complements the type of relationship we feel with the people around us.

See, even dogs have body language!

See, even dogs have body language!

I happened across this TED talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist who speaks about the impact of body language on our daily lives and how we end up feeling about ourselves. Not only does our body language work externally, but it also expresses itself internally, altering our own beliefs about our personality and self-worth. Specifically, there are “power poses” that anyone can assume to feel more control and power in any situation. The Wonder Woman pose, the “I’m too cool for this meeting” pose, and other space-filling positions give a person an increased sense of empowerment.

Amy Cuddy's high and low power poses

Amy Cuddy’s high and low power poses

I feel that this element of empowerment and body language is especially important for women to learn about because there are many times when we have been socialized into minimizing our presence in a social situation and lose a significant amount of power and self-confidence. As a girl growing, I remember times when I was scolded for being too loud or standing out because of how I was sitting or standing. While I would not be surprised that I was being childish and brash, I also have a very intense memory of disliking these adjustments because they encouraged a type of behavior that did not make me feel confident, powerful, or included.

body-language-arms

Jezebel does an admirable job of expressing the association of powerful poses with masculinity and how this makes it difficult for women to maintain any power in social or work situations. Combined, these videos are only the tip of the body language iceberg. I hope that those of us that find this information informative can use it to feel more powerful, more confident, and more certain that your body is saying what you want it to say. Not only does it affect your relationships with others, it also affects the relationship you have with yourself.