Petition update

Victory! WE made Dignity in Floods happen

Mayuri Bhattacharjee
Tezpur, India

May 29, 2021 — 

Thank you so much for your support till now. We DID IT! Assam Govt officially declares sanitary napkin as essential relief item. Scroll to read the news article with inputs from the Assam Govt.

February 23 23, 2019 – the day I launched my petition, I was feeling scared and did not think that a story of a girl from a flood-hit village in Assam would move people to act. But YOU proved me wrong. You have been with me. You have shared and tweeted the Assam government. You believed in the cause to ensure that no woman has to bleed into her clothes due to lack of menstrual products. You encouraged me and gave suggestions. I thank you for that.

The announcement from the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) is a landmark in disaster management history in our country. A state government now acknowledges that sanitary napkins are ‘essential’ relief items just like food grains and shelter during floods. This announcement is a huge step because menstruation is a taboo topic and our society still hesitates to talk openly about it. Can you imagine the change women in flood relief camps will see when along with food grains, pads will also be stocked in each flood affected district in Assam? Not one district, BUT EVERY DISTRICT WHICH HAS FLOODS RELIEF CAMPS! I am so emotional. I am thinking of Rima (name changed to protect her identity), who had shared her story of horror. This petition is for her and all the women of Assam who face floods every year.

Finally, I must thank all the staff at ASDMA who listened to me and heard my ideas. They patiently took my calls, replied to my emails and even accepted the eco pads from Eco Hub that I had delivered on behalf of all of us. I know COVID-19 put a lot of stress on the department. Against all odds, they finally took a positive step. ASDMA also recently published a tender inviting bids for pad vending machines and incinerators for women-friendly flood shelters. This shows that our two years of advocacy as common citizens was taken seriously and they are taking more steps.

Last year on 30th October, the CM had announced multi-purpose flood shelters with separate toilet facilities for women. I know my state government also conducts regular visits to ensure the safety of women inside flood shelters. But sanitary pads could not be uniformly distributed by all districts because it was not put in the list of relief items. From this year onwards, this hurdle has been removed because of this campaign. Districts are now empowered to use their relief fund to procure pads for relief camps!

I've seen some highs and lows with this campaign. Periods of intense interaction with the government and then long silences. Yet something made me keep at it. And that was the support of common people and 1.3 lakh of you who signed my petition and believed in this cause and me.

Look what we achieved together!

I believe I could create the change I wanted with popular support and a platform like change.org. To me, Change.org is a place of empowerment where I can reach people beyond my circle to make my voice heard. I feel any of us can work for change if they have a platform like this to raise their voice.

I am declaring victory today, but the cause of Dignity in Disasters will continue. Please follow the next steps on the Facebook and Instagram pages.

Thank you once again for your support!

Mayuri

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PS: I am adding a timeline of development for people who signed my petition recently

Feb 23, 2019: Petition launched

Mar 6, 2019: Bhabesh Kalita, MOS Irrigation, Revenue and Disaster Management responds – “ I have read the petition thoroughly. It's a serious issue and it's good to find that this issue has been raised on such good platform. I will look into the matter.”

Aug 6, 2019: East Mojo reports that Bhabesh Kalita, MOS Irrigation, Revenue and Disaster Management told them “The government is not distributing the item because it is not mentioned as a relief material in the list provided by the revenue and disaster management department.” https://www.eastmojo.com/sikkim/2019/08/06/sanitary-napkin-not-a-basic-disaster-relief-item-assam-minister/

Aug 20, 2020: We gifted a box of eco-friendly pads and hygiene kits to the Finance and Health Minister of Assam – Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma and the Commissioner and Secretary, Revenue & Disaster Management Department - M.S. Manivannan. Mr M.S. Manivannan gets in touch with Mayuri and agrees that it is an important issue. https://www.eastmojo.com/news/2020/08/21/flagging-womens-plight-in-flood-relief-camps-sanitary-pads-sent-to-assam-health-minister/

July to September, 2020: Organisations outside Assam get connected to the campaign and show their willingness to help women with menstrual products. Dignity in Floods campaign helps in making these external connections with on-ground NGOs in Assam. One Chennai based NGO Bhoomika Trust got connected via us with Samanaway Foundation in Guwahati and sent them a bulk supply of pads.

October to November, 2020: We fundraise along with Eco Hub for providing frontline disaster management female workers in Kaziranga National Park area and provide 25 sustainable menstrual health product kits which have menstrual cups, cloth pads and eco-friendly pads.

October 30, 2020: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal lays down foundation stone for Flood shelter multipurpose flood shelter home at Bahgarah under Bihpuria assembly constituency in Lakhimpur district. A three-storied building to be erected on RRC structure having an area of approximately 5,000 square feet on each floor will be constructed at a cost of Rs 2.51 crore. Such dwelling structures will have separate toilet facilities for males and females, a key demand of our campaign.

May 10, 2021: ASDMA issues tender inviting bids for pad vending machines and incinerators.

May 25, 2021: ASDMA puts pads in the list of relief items via a notification to all districts https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/assam-sanitary-napkin-essential-flood-relief-item-7334597/


Keep fighting for people power!

Politicians and rich CEOs shouldn't make all the decisions. Today we ask you to help keep Change.org free and independent. Our job as a public benefit company is to help petitions like this one fight back and get heard. If everyone who saw this chipped in monthly we'd secure Change.org's future today. Help us hold the powerful to account. Can you spare a minute to become a member today?

I'll power Change with $5 monthlyPayment method

Discussion