‘It is about time that we bleed proudly and talk about our shade of red’
Faith -- a tiny yet powerful word that contains a universe woven with stories and emotions that some of us cannot even begin to fathom. One of the Bengali words for faith is astha. Astha does not only mean faith or devotion but has a more profound meaning evolved within itself when it became the beacon for a better future for the women of our country.
You guessed it right, folks, we’re going to talk about the red wed- ding every female needs to survive through once a month. Astha decided it is about time our society learns about the hygiene protocols everybody should be aware of and what better time than this wedding season to introduce you all to Astha.
An organization solely based on spreading awareness about mensuration and menstrual hygiene established under the name Astha. About six months ago, Astha took her first step through a page on social media. Munia Islam, one of the founders, while doing a research on menstrual hygiene on women in Rohingya camp realized that approximately, around 60 percent of the women in our country are actually oblivious about the seriousness of menstrual hygiene. One night – as they say, your best ideas stream into you at night – she knew Astha needed to happen. She teamed up with Rawnak Mahajabin Tasnia, another woman equally ambitious, and created a platform on social media for that one percent in our society who support and share the same vision - a future where menstruation is not taboo. A future where young girls are not told about menstruation in whispers and are not asked to hide their pads from the men in the family. A future where menstrual hygiene is given utmost priority. A future where this rite of passage in a girl’s life is celebrated without the enforced shame she is obligated to feel. It was the first step of creating a support base for this future, an impenetrable first line, to hold up when the next big step is taken.
In a span of six months, their horizon widened as more people -- youths -- stumbled by their page and showed their utter support for the cause. Artists, poets, writers share their works about their experiences with the stereotypical beliefs related to menstruation. They also create contents that our generation could relate to in order to create a strong- er support base. The ultimate goal-- the key element of the big picture -- is to reach and preach to the people who are still oblivious about menstrual hygiene and are reluctant to accept it as a natural cycle of life. But before that is done, it is crucial to gain supporters who would help, volunteer, back up Astha when the time comes and actual physical campaigns are launched both in Dhaka and outside Dhaka.
Therefore, the main aim for Astha right now is to build her up on a foundation that would hold any storm because this journey of hers won’t be an easy one as we all know how certain part of our population reacts to changes and to people who are trying to make those changes.
Hence, Astha organized an event at the end of the month, precisely from February 19 to 23, in Jatra Biroti called LAL. This is a chance for you to show your support for this movement and network with others to learn, to understand, to bond, and to help Astha in every possible way you can.
You can send in your work and share your thoughts about Astha in [email protected] And you could also follow her @weareastha on Instagram and Astha Foundation on Facebook.