Meghan & Harry Invite Mumbai-Based Women’s NGO to Royal Wedding!

Myna Mahila Foundation manufactures affordable sanitary napkins and also spreads awareness about menstrual hygiene.

Published25 Apr 2018, 10:13 AM IST
3 min read

The United Kingdom’s wedding of the year is spreading cheer in Mumbai’s Govandi area. Mumbai-based NGO Myna Mahila Foundation is one among the seven charities picked by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to receive donations instead of a wedding gifts as the couple tie the knot. Founder Suhani Jalota is ecstatic over the support from the royal couple.

We were super excited, honoured and privileged that we were selected as the only organisation outside of the UK for this. This really speaks to the sincerity of the couple for promoting causes that are very important and with grass-root level organisations that are really small.
Suhani Jalota, Founder of Myna Mahila Foundation     

Suhani, who was just 20 when she founded Myna Mahila Foundation back in 2015, employs women from the slums of Govandi area to manufacture affordable sanitary napkins. Aside from producing pads, the women associated with the organisation also spread awareness about menstrual hygiene.

Employees at Myna Mahila Foundation make sanitary napkins in their Govandi office.
Employees at Myna Mahila Foundation make sanitary napkins in their Govandi office.
(Photo: The Quint)

In 2016, Suhani first met Meghan Markle in an award ceremony in New York. Impressed by her work on menstrual hygiene, Meghan paid a visit to Mumbai’s Govandi last year and spent two days interacting with the Myna team.

In January last year, she came down to Myna and was with us for two days and spoke to all kinds of girls – young, older, and middle-aged women. They spoke to her about their challenges at different ages while dealing with menstrual hygiene and how it played out in their lives in the urban slums of Mumbai. 
Suhani Jalota, Founder of Myna Mahila Foundation     

Meghan’s visit was soon followed by wedding invitations. Not just for Suhani but four other team members as well!

They have invited me with four other people. We are looking for funding because they haven’t provided the money but they have provided the invitations. So, if we find sponsors, five of us will be able to go. This would be a great experience and exposure for the women here. Many of them have never left the city, some of them have never left the slums so going to London would be in incredible opportunity.
Suhani Jalota, Founder of Myna Mahila Foundation   

Today, Myna Mahila Foundation educates over 10,000 women every month on menstrual hygiene. Even the team consists of women residing in Govandi, most of whom were introduced to sanitary napkins by the foundation.

After joining this foundation, I found out what pads were, and then slowly started using it. Now I know how to make pads and also teach others about its benefits. 
Haseena Sheikh, Employee

“We now go door-to-door teaching women about the importance of using pads. We demonstrate how it’s used and even give them a free packet and ask them to use it and see how convenient and hygienic it is compared to a piece of cloth. Some are initially very opposed to talking about menstrual hygiene, but after a few visits, most open up to it,” said Shobha Rawal, who has been working with Myna Mahila Foundation for over two years now.

With her NGO now on the map, Suhani is hopeful of receiving the monetary help to reach out to more urban slums in Mumbai and make a difference at a larger scale.

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