Queerious About Menstruation!

Project Baala
4 min readJun 5, 2023

“Navan, why don’t you do a panel discussion around menstruation?” A sudden thought by Soumya, our founder at Project Baala had me all excited. And that very instant, I said yes to the opportunity. The idea at that time, seemed very fun but also a responsibility to take over the curation, execution and the outreach at the same time.

Being queer and a public policy student, the thing that struck me was ‘intersectionality’. Menstruation as a topic was relatively new for me with the kind of exposure I had. I was never really curious enough to deep dive into it as a research subject. That is when this opportunity to intern with Project Baala came my way. As I read more, I found how such a natural thing that an individual with ovaries goes through also brought in a lot of discrimination towards the same section of the society. I found that there were a lot of conversations around menstruation but a very few involving intersections of caste, class and involvement of cis-men in the movement. There was even lesser data of inclusion of transmen and non-binary people in the menstruation narrative. When the conversations are lesser, ground work is miniscule. This is when I decided to finalise the theme of the discussion as “Intersectionality and Menstrual injustice”. The topic ignited a real sense of passion and was derived from a history of systematic deprivation of equitable rights of the queer community. I was sure about the fact that I wanted the panel discussion to happen anyway before 28th May, which is World Menstrual Hygiene Day. I also realised any online discussion beyond 90 minutes sounded boring. With the intent that all professionals could attend the panel discussion, 5:00–6:30 pm was a good time. Though I believe we could have also reached out to everyone who was curious to know more about menstruation as a topic. I was very much satisfied with my concept note and the research done to control the flow of the panel discussion by providing each panellist a set of questions. The fire-side chat was one of the reasons the panel discussion kept the audience interested. I would love for it to turn into longer sessions with breakout rooms with each panellist and document these sessions. We could also explore sub-topics under these categories we addressed this year and carry forward this baton of bridging knowledge gaps.

While I was researching, I read more work from M. Sivakami, Professor at TISS Mumbai. I wished she was on the panel. Due to some prior engagements she could not attend. She strongly recommended Mr. Karan Babbar, a well known research advisor at Pandemic Periods. I had also read a collective work of theirs. I knew I wanted him on the panel when I read his article on inclusion of trans men and non binary individuals in menstruation and was elated when he confirmed. I remember asking for dates of Angellica Aribam, Founder Femme First. It was tougher when our dates were a week earlier but now that we changed our dates to the 23rd and 24th it seemed like a good opportunity to ask her again. To our surprise she agreed. My dream panel was now ready. I was constantly in touch with our panellists which helped me a lot with full panel attendance.

Day 1 had :

  1. Ms. Deepthi Sukumar, vocal advocate of caste intersections and National Core Team Member of Safai Karamachari Andolan
  2. Ms. Angellica Aribam, Founder Femme First
  3. Mr. Karan Babbar, Research Advisor at Pandemic Periods

Day 2 had :

  1. Ms. Candice Chirwa, Minister of Menstruation, Founder — Qrate
  2. Adv. Pravin Nikam , Founder Samata Center

Once we finalised the panel and dates, I went through every possible logistical requirement.

  1. Send moderators every possible detail of the panellists.
  2. Dry run at least thrice with your team and also sensitise.
  3. Have another set of questions ready just in case your audience does not ask any.
  4. Use Social Media Campaigns to get possible questions, increase outreach.
  5. Have a run through of every minute of the session ready and keep following it. Do not rely completely on the moderator for time-keeping.
  6. To increase the buzz, fun reels and newsletters come in handy.
  7. Contact MHM circles over emails. Compile an outreach list.
  8. Allocate tasks within the team for the session.

Both the days were really insightful considering the entire panel discussion was interactive.

There were great questions from the audience and the panellists were really engaging.

All the conversations were from their lived experiences and published articles or research papers. For a panel to be a success, the curator needs to have a thorough understanding of the theme and topic. You need to have passion for the topic. You need to care. Find your why! I can totally see “Period Dialogues with Project Baala” being one of the biggest panel discussion people wanting to attend.

It was overwhelming to see it turn into such an intense experience and become a memory for life. I cannot thank team Project Baala enough for guiding me through this experience.

Navan is passionate and vocal about SOGI equality and equity, and is directing this passion to support research and interventions at Baala. Through the internship, Navan wants to create interventions for the transgender community, and is also helping build the brand of Baala. Currently, Navan is pursuing a Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

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Project Baala

Project Baala is an innovative menstrual health solution provider.