The Red Dot Campaign: A unique way to educate all

It is expected that this campaign will help in creating a better and a more hygenic world

Menstruation or period is a normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Every month, the body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus or womb sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus.
Even though menstruation is a normal procedure, in India, there is still a lot of taboo associated with the monthly cycles of women.
Dr Annapurna displaying the red dot on her hand representing the campaign
Image: Dr Annapurna displaying the red dot on her hand representing the campaign
In many interior parts of India, ladies who are undergoing their menstrual cycle are refrained from entering the kitchen or temple as she is considered to be "dirty" or "unhygienic" during those few days of the month. The doctors in this regard say that maintaining personal hygiene during those days is extremely important. In this context, hygiene not only means keeping it clean but also means the clean and safe disposal of menstrual waste.
Considering the importance of menstrual hygiene among women, Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed on 28th May every year. In order to raise awareness UNICEF started the Red Dot Challenge, which is an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness about menstruation. The campaign involves sharing a black and white photo with a red dot on the palm.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is marked on May 28 every year. The UNICEF started the Red Dot Challenge. This is an annual campaign that aims to raises awareness about menstruation.
The Red Dot Campaign was first carried out in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation to convince and educate the Pune residents on how to dispose their sanitary waste. In this campaign, the people were taught to wrap their sanitary waste in a paper and mark a red circle on the pack. This mark made it easy to differentiate the sanitary waste from the other wastes. The employees of the Pune Municipality Corporation, who work under the waste disposal section were imparted training on how to segregate this sanitary waste from the other wastes.
Renowned model Manushi Chillar as a part of the campaign
Image: Renowned model Manushi Chillar as a part of the campaign
SWaCH (pilot program implemented by Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat in collaboration with the Department of Adult Education, SNDT Women's University) enabled 1500 waste pickers to become service providers for door-to-door collection of waste from households in Pune city. This considerably improved their conditions of work and upgraded their livelihoods effectively bridging the gap between households and the municipal waste collection service. The pilot program is operational since 2006  and SWaCH was formed in 2007.
Seven months into the campaign, a group of 75 trained SWaCH leaders (serving 15,000 households daily) reported that 50% of their customers were wrapping and marking their sanitary waste, compared to 0% before the campaign began. They also reported that 75% of the customers inform them of sanitary waste present in their trash can, compared to 0% before. These numbers are less in areas serviced by SWaCH leaders who have not yet received leadership training, emphasizing the benefit of leadership training for waste pickers alongside campaigns. SWaCH continues to expand trainings for both their members and the public so that public support for the Red Dot Campaign will continue to grow.
Fit Northeast during a conversation with Dr. Annapurna from UNICEF came to know that the RED DOT Campaign is a way to create awareness regarding menstruation among both girls and boys. Dr. Annapurna highlights that this education is also immensely important in present times as there are many villages where girls are forced to skip school during those days of the month. She added that it is very important to make the male folk realize that menstruation is a very normal procedure, just like defecation and urination. Dr. Annapurna also emphasized that every girl has the right to use hygienic sanitary products including pads which will protect her from infection.
A worker of the Maharashtra Municipality Corporation
Image: A worker of the Maharashtra Municipality Corporation
It was added that in Maharashtra (Pune) many people have now accepted the Red Dot Campaign and mark a red dot on the pack of their sanitary waste to make proper disposal and segregation of waste. It was added that several popular celebrities have also been a part of this campaign and have helped in carving out awareness in the best possible way. It is expected that the awareness among the public regarding the proper disposal of sanitary waste will help to make a cleaner and safer India in the upcoming days. Keeping up with this campaign, education is also imparted to the students of Assam and it is thereby hoped that the state will also be a part of the campaign. 



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