Various studies, as well as our experience, have shown that when we work towards women empowerment, the whole society benefits. But unfortunately in India, far from being empowered, most women are denied even their basic rights like health, education, employment and a respectable status in society.
According to a recent UNDP Human Development Report, India has a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio, the chief reason being rampant female infanticide and sex-selective abortions.
Several initiates have been taken by humanify foundation which includes:
When acid attack survivors announced their protest at JantarMantarin New Delhi in 2014,against the open sale of acid, asking the government to ensure strict regulation for the same, he attended the event out of curiosity. As per Mail Online, a UK's News Website, Gera met the acid attack survivors at a protest three years ago and was so moved by their journeys that he decided to help campaign against acid violence with the collection of powerful images. And thus was born the idea of ‘Sacred Transformations’. It took Gera more than two years meeting the women, interacting with them, and documenting their inspiring journeys to put together a collection of 42 photographs which was exhibited at AparnaCaur Gallery, Delhi.
The compilation was first exhibited in the "ArpanaCaur Art Gallery" (New Delhi). It has since then, won several Awards in variously reputed photography competition like, CEPICAward, Ozone Zone International Photo Competition, Hon’ble mention in the International Photographer of the Year (IPOTY-16). It has also been published by several media portals like Al Jazeera, Hindustan Times,India Today, PopSugar (US), Metropolitan Magazine, Business Standard, Yahoo! and MSN.
Through this impactful series, Niraj wants to talk loud and proud about periods & menstrual hygiene. In his pursuit to support humanity he believes in supporting women and girls by sharing their sorrows, problems & joys related to periods & raising a voice for those women who lack privacy, safety & dignity they deserve during their periods.
This prodigious series has around 35 photographs & each one has a profound message on periods & menstrual hygiene. The entire photo series is very well thought-out, that sheds light on the dark, discreet & less known corners of periods & menstrual hygiene.
It is not just a series of photographs for Niraj, it is his way of expressing his perspective both as a photographer as well as a social reformer. The series has been conceptualized and photographed by Niraj himself with the help of some digital enhancement/ editing meticulously done by Thakur Mohan Kumar.
His aim is to sensitize the society towards females who menstruate & have several problems related to it. The series took approximately 6-7 months to complete & during the making of series Niraj was faced with fair share of challenges. Getting women onboard for presentation of this issue in photographs was not as easy as it might appear to be. There were many well educated girls who despite being comfortable with the idea of being photographed denied associating themselves with this kind of an issue. He also faced a lot of discouragement from various people for working on a subject as discreet as periods. Being a male counterpart of this society did not really serve in his favor and he had to face quite a lot of problem in countering the stigmas prevalent in society both for men & women and getting females to talk frankly on this issue. However, this did not stop Niraj from pursuing what he had in mind and his intentions were manifested in the form of this series with the love and support of AOL volunteers, liberal persons, various NGOs, his friends, his Team members etc, which helped Niraj in completing this series well in time & released it on the occasion of Menstrual Hygiene Day i.e. 28th May.
Humanify foundation doesn't want to rest its campaign only to exhibition “Sacred Stains”. We wishes to carry it further with more zeal and support from people. We plans to spread the campaign to every possible place in India and in furtherance of that he has planned a Pan India drive on menstrual Hygiene Awareness. Through this drive aims to educate both men and women on the importance of this subject with a hope to bring about positive changes in the lives of approximately 82% of Indian women who are deeply affected by period poverty or period illiteracy & thus they use the unhygienic substitutes of sanitary pads/tampons, such as ash, sand, unhygienic clothes, newspaper, etc. He also hopes to create more openness in the society. As a part of this drive we plans on distributing sanitary pads, awareness literature and other help related to menstrual hygiene in rural areas and slums. We further wants to take this campaign & photo series to various schools, colleges & institutes and eliminate the shame and stigma that surround periods in India, and around the world.
Through an online petition on change.org (http://chng.it/VCCpJCYP), we urged the Prime Minister to provide free sanitary napkins to women living below the poverty line to eliminate the problem of period poverty from India. Our Online Petition received more than with 2 Lac 25 Thousand + Supporters and counting more each day.
FIRST PAAVNI Workshop in Delhi
First 'Paavni' workshop was held at Shahbad dairy, Rohini,New Delhi on August, 25. Around 200 female and 50 males attended the workshop wherein know-how on how to handle menstruation & personal hygiene while periods, etc. has been shared through interactive and engaging training methods to empower women & other segments of society.
During this unique workshop, Niraj Gera (a Social Reformer and President of Humanify Foundation), initiated a constructive discussion held with the females living in slum areas. Through his powerful photo series on Menstruation 'Sacred Stains', he talked about healthy menstrual hygiene practice, stigmatization of periods and elimination of myths associated with menstruation. He also conducted a separate session for their male counterparts (who are usually the decision makers & bread earners in Indian patriarchal society) to motivate them to become more sensitive towards their wife, daughters, mothers etc., and encourage those women to take a decision to use hygienic sanitary pads.
Thereafter, sanitary pads were distributed by members & volunteers of Humanify, alongside a session conducted by this team on gender sensitisation (equality of opportunity) and need of proper sanitation & toilet facilities for all. This is an initiative of Humanify Foundation towards the upliftment scheme of rural sanitation under Govt.’s unique Swachh Bharat Abhiyan& United Nation's WASH (Water, Sanitation & hygiene for all) project, which is bringing huge behavioural change amongst people regarding healthy sanitation practice.
During the occasion, Niraj Gerasaid “A woman’s menstrual health is crucial to her well-being, and also to the well-being of her family and community, but too often — especially in the developing world — mind-sets, customs and institutional biases prevent women from getting the menstrual health care they need to thrive. Menstrual hygiene continues to be amongst one of the most challenging development issues today. We are aiming to meet our objective through integrated awareness, motivation & meditation programs which will be conducted in multiple locations during our pan India social drive.”
A Conversation on Women Empowerment with the Students at NDRI, A Government of India Institute
Mr. Gera founder president, felt honored on sharing his views on women empowerment as a keynote speaker, in the presence of various dignitaries, NDRI Professors & officers, & enthusiastic students of NDRI (A Govt. Of India Dairy research institute, originally established in 1923).
Jadavpur University (Kolkata) Women Conclave
Mr. Gera got a privilege of sharing his views as a keynote speaker with various law officers, lawyers &students of Jadavpur University, Kolkata and sharing the stage with honorable Judges of Kolkata, Special Police Commissioner (Kolkata), talented & senior lawyers, representative of NGOs & other distinguished guests. The topic of this conclave 'Acid Attack- Perspective & Solution ' is very close to his heart & his photo series 'Sacred Transformations' received a lot of appreciation there.
International Women's Day Celebrations at MIT World Peace University, Pune (Maharashtra)
Mr Gera shared his views as a keynote speaker with the law students of MIT WPU (Pune) and shared the stage with honorable High Court Judge (Bombay), Vice Chancellor of University, Dean, professors, various senior lawyers & other distinguished guests.