MUMBAI, April 10 — A Mumbai-based charity that makes low-cost sanitary pads and gives menstrual hygiene lessons to slum-dwellers said yesterday it would look to scale up its operations after being chosen to benefit from donations made for the British royal wedding.
The Myna Mahila Foundation is one of seven charities that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle yesterday asked people to donate to rather than buying them gifts for their May wedding.
The foundation relies largely on companies for funding, said founder Suhani Jalota, 23, adding that the move would allow it to provide its services to more women.
“We take pads and education to the doorsteps of about 10,000 women across 12 slums every month, but will be able to go up to 20,000 to 30,000 women with the donation money,” Jalota told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
US actress Markle visited the charity last year and wrote about it in Time magazine.
Real estate in Mumbai, India’s financial hub, is among the most expensive in the world, and about 60 per cent of the city’s population of more than 18 million live in slums.
Many are migrant workers who move to Mumbai in search of better economic opportunities, and who live in shacks with no running water or toilets, and under the threat of eviction or displacement.
Jalota said the charity’s work in Mumbai centred on women as they were the most vulnerable — few have jobs, some have abusive husbands, and they often view their health as a low priority.
The charity also employs women from the slums to make its sanitary pads.
“Once they opened up on menstrual hygiene, they have started speaking on other problems like domestic violence,” Jalota said.
Harry and Markle, who will marry at Windsor Castle on May 19, announced their engagement last November.
In a statement, Harry’s office said the couple were grateful for the goodwill they had been shown and “are keen that as many people as possible benefit from this generosity of spirit”.
“The couple have therefore asked that anyone who might wish to mark the occasion considers making a donation to charity, rather than sending a wedding gift,” the statement said.
Among the other charities are the Children’s HIV Association, the Crisis homelessness charity, conservation group Surfers Against Sewage, and Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which supports children who have lost a parent while serving in the British military. — Thomson Reuters Foundation