Who we are and what we do
We wish to create a period positive socio-cultural environment for menstruating adolescents and adults in Bhagalpur district to ensure menstrual experiences are free from shame, stigma, misinformation and myths. We aim to encourage personal care habits among menstruators with correct information about menstruation, menstrual health & hygiene management (MHHM).
Our founder, Shalini Jha, launched the campaign in December 2019 as part of the Youth Ki Awaaz Action Network Fellowship.
Having suffered due to menstrual unawareness and stigma while growing up, the word 'menstruation' was a triggering word for Shalini. She came across a lot of misinformation and myths while dealing with severe menstrual abnormalities herself. So, she decided to change this reality for other menstruators in her local community who might be suffering similarly due to the culture of silence around menstruation.
Alharh's work has been featured in the Times of India and has also won the Youth ki Awaaz Seed Grant Award 2020.
Story behind the name 'Alharh'
Over 40% women in Bihar, West Bengal and Tripura are married before they turn 18, according to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
When a person starts menstruating, it is not just a simple, biological process but comes with its own socio-cultural implications. During the rituals surrounding menarche, i.e., onset of menstruation which can be as early as 10 years, one can hear songs that describe how a menstruating girl has now become a fertile 'woman' eligible for marriage and must behave so. Their Alharh self, i.e, when they can be playful and frolicsome without any constraints or restrictions, is frowned upon.
[Note : Menstruation is conventionally but wrongly associated with only women.]
'Alharh' is a Hindi word which roughly translates to the state of being carefree and unbridled. Our campaign, Alharh is an attempt to restore the natural, liberated and unrepressed self of the menstruators through normalisation and destigmatization of menstruation.
We are a bunch of highly enthusiastic and young volunteers, mostly students from school and college, with varied skills, who want to build a society where menstrual health and wellness is a reality and not an aspiration.
About The Founder
Shalini Jha is a researcher and grassroots campaigner. Ambedkar University Delhi's Young ChangeMaker Awardee 2020. Youth Ki Awaaz Action Network Fellow 2019-20. Former Community Leader in Haiyya's Health Over Stigma Campaign. An alumna of Miranda House, Delhi University, Shalini hold a Master's degree in English Literature.
Why do we do what we do?70% mothers with menstruating daughters consider menstruation as "dirty" and 71% adolescent menstruators remain unaware of menses till menarche. (Dasra) Lack of menstrual awareness is a major issue and affects all aspects of a menstruator's life : overall health, access to education and even self-confidence. Our campaign is an attempt to solve this pertinent issue.
Who forms our target community?Our target communities are based out of Bhagalpur district and comprise of : a) School-going adolescents and b) Economically marginalised menstruators, outside of school While our awareness sessions and activities are directed towards all, our menstrual equity programme (Sammaan drive) is for economically marginalised sections.
Are we a registered NGO?We are not yet a registered non-governmental organisation. We operate as a campaign.
What tasks do I perform if I sign up as a volunteer?A volunteer contributes according to their skill set. For eg - if someone is good at graphic designing, they can help with creating social media posts, etc.; someone who is good at networking can help us with our collaborations. Sign up if you are good at any of the following : Video editing, Graphic designing, Content writing, Networking, Interpersonal communication.
Are we open to collaborations with other organizations or initiatives?Yes, absolutely! Email us or contact us on Whatsapp. You can also DM us on Instagram or Facebook.
Have any other queries?Feel free to use Alharh's Chatbox at the bottom right of the screen or contact us through email. We will make sure to answer you as soon possible.