GANGTOK: Abigail George Lama, an entrepreneur in Sikkim and also the vice-president of Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI), Sikkim, has raised Rs 54,055 in 30 hours from 36 supporters for sanitary pad and diaper donations. She launched her fundraiser at 6 pm on June 8 under Project Milaap after receiving a green signal from WICCI.

Abigail’s team consists of a team of eight ladies who are mostly entrepreneurs.

Abigail learned about the situation from a male friend whose delivery of sanitary pads as part of a social organisation was rejected by women in rural Sikkim. They informed that diapers and sanitary napkins have been a major issue in rural Sikkim for the past three weeks.

Speaking with EastMojo about her initiative, Abigail said, “A friend of mine is part of a social organization. When he buys sanitary pads for those in need, the women return them feeling shy. Maybe he tried to go in person along with his friends, who must be all male. We can’t say people are backward, but there is a social stigma in rural areas. So, when a woman is coming forward and doing this, it will be much more acceptable for them. If there are four women in the house, each of them requires one packet each. That’s a minimum for one period a month. If we understand the situation better, we are willing to do as much as a team.”

The rural scenario is different as compared to urban areas, which have better access. Sitting in Gangtok, we can only see the exterior of the ground reality, said Abigail. “When the economy is marred, the house budget doesn’t prioritize sanitary pads for the women of the household. That leads to a lot of health issues for the women. We wanted to fundraise from our circle to help. We have got a very good response despite our team being spread apart and difficulties in mobilizing as we would want to.”

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Most of the donors are from Sikkim or Sikkimese, especially women donors, shares Abigail.

“It speaks to women more, because we go through that. It’s a great realization that we can galvanize this to a greater extent and bring in help. We can help in certain pockets as a small organization. While the government can focus across the State. We, as a small organization, can focus on areas like Kabi Lungchok and Geyzing.”

While it is a one-time initiative, WICCI Sikkim wants to cover a large part of the two villages that have shared their needs.

“We plan to send 600-1000 sanitary pads to Kabi Lungchok. Government can provide in other areas. We are not going out to a company as the need is urgent and procurement takes time. So, we are opting for local wholesalers who can deliver the consignment as quickly as possible to us. We are trying to figure out the logistics with resource persons in districts.”

Abigail’s team of eight will be calling the beneficiaries to understand their requirements. “We will see if we can reach more avenues.”

Meanwhile, the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party’s Nari Shaki (women wing) has also procured 5,000 sanitary pads, some of which were delivered in Marchak, East Sikkim on June 9.

General Secretary of the organization Pooja Sharma said, “For now we do not have the data of how much is required, but we are trying to procure the same from ASHA workers working across the state. Our first reach will be for the women who are COVID positive and primary contacts, someone who cannot access sanitary pads. But, there are also concerns over the disposal of pads by COVID positive patients. So once we get proper disposal bags, we will ensure that most in need in rural Sikkim get them delivered at their doorstep.”

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