With a mission to provide women in Mumbai access to clean toilets and good menstrual hygiene services, this Mumbaikar duo has started a Bindii: The Red Dot Revolution movement.
Two years ago, 41-year-old Bhavana Ganu and 39-year-old Villot Cardozo, who were working together in the same media organisation decided to quit their full-time jobs so that they can invest their time towards community development. The duo had one dream – ‘To create an eco-system for women in Mumbai, where at any given point in time women can find a clean toilet and get good quality of sanitary napkins and other menstrual hygiene services’. “We always wanted to do something more with our lives, often, we used to discuss over a cup of chai, outside our office on how and what we can do to make a difference,” says the duo while talking to NDTV.
Genesis Of Bhavana And Villot’s Journey
Bhavana Ganu shares that as a woman her personal experience of not finding clean toilets within the city made her start the initiative. She further adds,
Whenever I stepped out of the home, finding a clean toilet was a big challenge. So, we decided to do something about this and help women find as the basic necessity as a clean toilet without any difficulty. I don’t want to wait for the government to do this for me, I wanted to help myself and other women facing the similar issues.
Villot Cardozo on the other hand says,
Clean toilets and menstrual hygiene services should be every woman’s basic right. A woman should focus on performing their best at what they are doing, instead of worrying about these things.
With these chain of thoughts and a dedicated year for research led to the start of Bindii: The Red Dot Revolution, a movement that is today helping Mumbai women get access to clean toilets and is providing school girls with sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators.
All About Bindii: The Red Dot Revolution
Bhavana and Villot simply didn’t want to provide facilities alone, they also wanted to educate the women about how to safely handle menstruation. For this purpose, the duo started focusing on schools in Mumbai.
What we do is we cover various schools in the city, provide them with good menstrual hygiene service like a sanitary napkin vending machine with good quality pads and incinerator, so that menstrual waste doesn’t pollute the planet any further. Moreover, we teach students about menstruation, menstrual hygiene and how they can deal with periods in a healthy way. There are classes on how to dispose of a sanitary napkin in an incinerator and how to use a sanitary napkin vending machine. After every six months, we also do follow-ups in the schools in which we have provided these services to check whether they are being utilised in an effective way or not, adds Bhavana Ganu.
Till date, the duo has built toilets complexes in four locations of Mumbai and has installed more than 100 toilets in schools, corporate offices, and public areas, moreover, they have taught people and children about menstruation and has helped them deal with periods safely.
The toilet complexes built can be availed by users free of cost. Moreover, these toilets are well equipped with facilities such as solar lightening, water-saving technology, proper sewage connectivity, sanitary napkins vending machine, incinerators and a full-time cleaner, who is responsible for maintaining cleanliness in the toilets.
Talking about the toilets design, Villot adds,
A normal toilet uses 6-7 litres of water in one flush, whereas, these toilets use 3.9 litres. Along with that, we have placed special screens inside the toilets in which we are running menstrual hygiene awareness programmes.
How Mumbai’s Red Dot Campaign Is Being Funded
The duo has put some of their own income in providing these facilities to women of Mumbai and some are being sponsored by various organisations.
For toilet complexes, a Pharma company came on board and decided to sponsor our project, for menstrual hygiene management facilities in schools, we have got different organisations that through their corporate social responsibility is helping us provide these facilities in Mumbai schools, added Villot.
Apart from these services, the warrior duo is also providing good quality branded sanitary napkins to the schools’ students at a low rate. They are providing one sanitary napkin for Rs. 5 as against Rs. 7 which is the market price. “We have tied up with a brand, who is giving us sanitary napkins for a lesser amount. They decided to do their bit by giving us sanitary napkins at a low cost,” says Bhavana.
Currently, the duo is working on to scale up their project and cover more areas in Mumbai and later take this campaign to a national level. The swachh warriors sign off by saying,
We urge people to come forward and take action, if individually, everyone will do their bit for the upliftment of the society, we as a nation will progress. Otherwise, these movements will keep coming and going, nothing will change in the society.