The urge to do something good for society has turned a teenage girl from saffron town Pampore into a vocal advocate for menstrual hygiene and mental health.
Sehar Mir, 17, a resident of Pampore town in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district has formed a non-profit voluntary youth organization, ‘Zoon’, which works on creating awareness on menstrual hygiene and mental health among people in rural areas.
Sehar is a class 12th student at Delhi Public School, Srinagar. She formed this youth group one-and-half years ago.
“Initially, I discussed this idea with my close friends and once we started working on it other students also joined us,” Sehar said, adding that now ‘Zoon’ is an association of 20 students, girls and boys, from different schools.
The students have no funding; they pool up from their pocket money for buying sanitary pads and organizing information sessions.
They visit government schools in different villages where they organize information sessions with students on menstrual hygiene and mental health.
“In the beginning some people didn’t like our initiative but that never discouraged us. We continued and our perseverance made a way for us,” she said, adding that due to stigma prevalent in remote areas people lack awareness about menstrual and mental health.
“This lack of understanding has consequences,” she added.
She said due to stigma girls hesitate in discussing their menstrual heath openly.
“We organize our information sessions in a very casual way, we engage in one-to-one honest interactions that help us to break the ice,” she said.
Zoon has started its awareness campaign from Chandhara village which is the birth place of 16th century sage and poetess of Kashmir, Habba Khatoon.
Habba Khatoon was named Zoon by her parents. Wife of King Yusuf Shah Chak, she became a household name for her sad songs and poems of separation. For her melodious singing she is remembered as the Nightingale of Kashmir.
“The name Zoon was taken in honour of Habba Khatoon and we began our work from her birth place, Chandhara,” Sehar said.
She said that they have been visiting this place frequently. “Villagers here know us and they have begun to appreciate our work,” she said.