Breaking one of the most common and unaccepted stereotypes in India “ladkia ladko ke sath safe nai hai”.
While living in India, our society including our parents reiterates the same. So here I would like to introduce you into the world where men are working for a cause, “a cause that many women are not aware of”. I know you must be wondering what am I talking about.
Yes, I am talking about the taboo which is the concern of all the adolescent girls and women of the world “sanitary napkin”. As a matter of fact only 12% of Indian women use the sanitary napkin, the rest are either using a cloth (or unhygienic traditional methods including sand and ash for absorption) or not even aware of using something during their menstrual cycle.
Landing into the world where I had always wanted to be was like a dream come true. Believing in the quote “following your passion is the ultimate gift, you can offer to yourself”, I started my journey with a company which is not only working and innovating on a product but also believes in providing overall solution to hygienic menstrual practices. As a girl, it was hard to talk about menstrual cycle in front of guys in India but breaking the stereotypical thinking when I am not only working but living with guys to work under this space. Earlier I was too shy and afraid because I never stayed that way. We work together, eat together and live together – putting a phenomenal example in front of everyone who thinks it’s not safe for women to live in India alongside men.
During my orientation, I was contented, when I got to know that I will be working with a company, working towards women empowerment. Earlier I was thrilled with the assignment which said “You have to work in “Dahod”, somewhere in the interiors of Gujarat”. I called my mom and said “I am going to work, where I always wanted to”, she understood and was indeed happy! But the happiness was ephemeral, her excitement receded when she got to know that I have to share the apartment with other co-workers; “what’s wrong in that?” But her real point of concern is that each and every coworker in question is “male”. I indemnify her for keeping myself safe but inside me there is a big war which tells it won’t be easy.
Living with guys is not easy because they believe in the philosophy of “a messy world”. All the rooms in the apartment including living room are smudged with dust. The kitchen which is supposed to be the cleanest place in the house is dumped with things and peculiarly when edible oil is poured in the empty red wine bottles … the apartment is beauteous, having all facilities including automatic machine, microwave and interestingly a roti making machine too. But everyone’s knowledge of cooking is limited (and the efforts to learn are still on). Fortunately, I am fond of cooking. One fine day I decided and made one of my favorite dish “paneer bhurji” for all the guys in the house. Seeing them eat, I felt like a mother to all these adopted kids. Things got all the more interesting when I and my friend and cofellow Richa took the challenge to clean the house. That’s when we realised that the only difference between guys and girls is the amount of mess they can create. But we successfully accomplished the mission.
I hope my journey here doesn’t end so soon, as there are a lot of things to learn and experience from this beautiful organisation and the new experience of living. One of the most important points that I want to make here is that I never felt that I am the only girl living with guys, in fact, I feel like a part of the family. I hope we have this kind of people and a like-minded society, who can change the mentality of all those concerned parents who fear that “my daughter is not safe”.
That’s why I constantly say, “life is all about people, irrespective of their gender.”