Learning the Cycle
In 2017, Amritha Subramaniam and Nikita Naik, both students at Macalester College in Minnesota, started Ruby Days. The organization was founded with the mission “to teach young girls about the natural bodily process of menstruation.” Subramaniam, a junior studying applied mathematics and statistics, and Naik, a junior studying economics, founded the program with the help of a grant called the Live It Fund. The grant is offered by Macalester College for entrepreneurial projects that strive to come up with solutions for global problems.
The idea stemmed from Subramaniam realizing that access to menstrual health education in rural India was a bigger problem than access to menstrual hygiene products.
“Women had access to pads or they had access to cloth but they didn’t know how to best use the cloth,” Subramaniam says. “Further, they didn’t know what was happening to their bodies and how they should respond to the changes and how they can take care of themselves.”
Over the summer, Subramaniam worked with several artists, organizations and translators to design the Ruby Days curriculum. The curriculum includes components that already exist in the realm of menstrual health awareness, as well as those that Subramaniam helped create. The educational model consists of several pieces, including comic books written in regional languages, coloring cards, pad making activities and an educational game.
“[They] work toward teaching women about their bodies and also destigmatizing menstruation,” Subramaniam says.
Subramaniam has collaborated with non-governmental organization Trinity Care Foundation in Bangalore, India to create a sustainable medium to educate young girls about menstruation. The foundation will conduct year-round workshops with the model in 80 schools with the goal of reaching 8,000 girls by the end of 2018.
“I think one of my biggest lessons from this project is that we’re not alone in wanting to make the world a better place,” Subramaniam says. “This project has shown me the value in being able to mobilize resources across houses, across cities, across countries, and has taught me how powerful an impact that can have.”