Aditi Gupta is a Menstrual Educator and Founder of Menstrupedia. She is an influencer, a Ted speaker, and the winner of Forbes 30 under 30.
When Aditi hit puberty at 12 years, she was rather uncomfortable and felt almost ashamed getting her period. With little or no education, the girl from Garhwa, Jharkhand, hardly understood what was happening to her. At home, her Mom turned it into a hush-hush affair. She gave Aditi a few rags and forbade her from buying sanitary napkins saying, it would dishonor the family. She was not allowed to touch the mandir at home or sit on other people’s beds; she even had to wash and dry her clothes separately. At school, it was even worse – her biology teacher skipped the entire chapter on menstruation and childbirth. Finally, three years later, in Class 9, she learned about menstruation. At the same time, she bought her first sanitary napkin. And so, like most other girls, Aditi grew up thinking periods are bad.
But not for long!
The Research, the Realization, the Reality
In 2009, while studying at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Aditi got an opportunity as a Ford Foundation Research scholar to work on the awareness of menstruation among semi-urban pre-teen girls. Her one-year-long field research results pointed to the lack of information on periods that led to little or no awareness of menstruation.
She shared the feedback with her batchmate and to-be husband, Tuhin Paul, who got equally appalled by the reality. Together, they designed a comic book prototype in Hindi on basic information regarding periods. The idea was great but unfortunately, the project got shelved due to lack of funds, new jobs, and even marriage.
But Aditi never gave up!
The Birth of Menstrupedia
In November 2012, the couple launched their website Menstrupedia to spread knowledge and awareness about periods and puberty.
The website has become a platform to provide information on puberty and sexuality for pre-teens and teenagers. Today, the website has over 1,00,000 monthly visitors.
It also conducts period workshops for girls and the MHM Masterclass for educators.
Menstrupedia has become the world’s most innovative company teaching and learning about periods. Through this initiative, Aditi Gupta helped educate more than 50,000 girls about periods, trained 10,000 educators, and impacted the lives of 13 million girls worldwide.
The Menstrupedia Comic
The next big breakthrough was the launch of the Menstrupedia comic book in September 2014, backed by a crowdfunding initiative of Rs 5 lakh.
The Menstrupedia Comic is available in twenty different languages in more than 23 countries. It comes in two versions – digital and print. In India, Menstrupedia comic books are used by NGOs like Protsahan, Munshi Jagannath Bhagwan Smriti Sansthan, Instincts, and Kanha. It is also the 1st Indian Comic on periods used by 10,000+ schools in India as a part of their curriculum.
Aditi aspires to create a future where menstruation is not shameful but a welcoming change. According to her, “It is an empowering process and a girl turning into a woman should embrace the change with pride and grace. Periods and menstruation are no longer taboo and girls need not buy sanitary napkins wrapped discreetly in newspaper and an ominous black polybag”.