|Title||PROJECT FREE PERIOD|
|Brand||JOHNSON & JOHNSON|
|Product / Service||STAYFREE|
|Category||B05. Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility|
|Entrant||DDB MUDRA Mumbai, INDIA|
|Idea Creation||DDB MUDRA Mumbai, INDIA|
|Production||DDB MUDRA Mumbai, INDIA|
|Rahul Mathew||DDB Mudra Group||Chief Creative Officer|
|Shagun Seda||DDB Mudra Group||Creative Head - West|
|Anurag Tandon||DDB Mudra Group||Managing Partner - West|
|Aditya Kanthy||DDB Mudra Group||Group CEO and Managing Director|
|Kapil Tammal||DDB Mudra Group||Creative Head|
|Kim Das||DDB Worldwide||Account Lead|
|Godwin Dmello||DDB Mudra Group||Group Creative Director|
|Sanket Wadwalkar||DDB Mudra Group||Group Creative Director|
|Vinay Singh||DDB Mudra Group||Associate Creative Director|
|Lalit Sakurkar||DDB Mudra Group||Associate Creative Director|
|Sharad Das Gupta||DDB Mudra Group||Copywriter|
|Aashna Gopalkrishnan||DDB Mudra Group||Copywriter|
|Shalmali Sawant||DDB Mudra Group||Art Director|
|Ruchira Pal||DDB Mudra Group||Art Director|
|Divya Nenwani||DDB Mudra Group||Art Director|
|Faraaz Ansari||DDB Mudra Group||Art Director|
|Nikita Tambay||DDB Mudra Group||Associate Vice President|
|Megha Jaiswal||DDB Mudra Group||Account Director|
|Vinisha P.||DDB Mudra Group||Account Director|
|Toru Jhaveri||DDB Mudra Group||VP & Head - Strategy West|
|Sanchari Chakrabarty||DDB Mudra Group||Strategy|
|Natasha Bohra||DDB Mudra Group||Strategy|
|Niyanta Mirjankar||DDB Mudra Group||Strategy|
|Vishal Sane||DDB Mudra Group||Films Head|
|Sayali Kolge||DDB Mudra Group||Account Director|
|Himmat Singh Shekhawat||Shekhawat Filmography||DOP|
|Akanksha Mishra||DDB Mudra Group||Corporate Communication|
As India’s leading sanitary napkin brand, Stayfree has been working towards normalising periods for decades now. But it’s easier said than done. For a country where menstruating women are still banned from entering temples or even accessing their own kitchens, periods evoke unparalleled disgust and shame. Telling these women that instead of ostracising periods, they should be rather welcoming it was never going to be an easy task. So, we got a section of women to become our ambassadors who already welcome their periods, and have suffered ostracisation for far too long – the commercial sex workers of India.
India is unique in the depth and persistence of stigmas around menstruation. Periods are when discrimination, exclusion and marginalization of women is socially approved and the norm. Across classes and subcultures, periods are believed to be ‘impure.’ Women are banned from entering temples or even their own kitchens. And these biases are passed down generations. If menstruating women are marginalized in India, sex workers are doubly discriminated against. They exist on society’s periphery and margins, locked in a relationship of mutual distrust with mainstream communities. Sex workers are seen with outright contempt at worst, or indifference and ‘pity’ at best. Which would explain why conventional rehabilition efforts fail with such depressing regularity – they simply do not understand the realities and circumstances of the women they are designed to ‘help.' It was an opportunity to bring together two taboos, Periods & Prostitution, to create a story of empowerment and progress.
Stayfree has been championing the cause of normalising periods for decades now. But in India, periods are more than just a biological reality. They are a hardline, long-standing taboo. Instead of discussing it openly, a period conversation is often brushed aside in whispers. Thus, to tackle one taboo, we engaged with another – prostitution. Despite having the largest number of sex workers in the world, prostitution, like periods, has long been a matter of shame and disgust in the country. We decided to change that by engaging with the commercial sex workers on the 3 days of their period, turning them into 3 days of learning. This would eventually not just offer them a way out of the industry, but would also go on to prove that your period days can become as liberating as you choose to make them.
In the course of research, we uncovered a powerful insight – no woman looks forward to her periods. Except for sex workers: because period days are the only days where they aren't forced to work. By using their period days to empower them, we realised we could create a powerful narrative around periods. We partnered with leading Mumbai-based anti-trafficking NGOs (Prerana and Aastha Parivaar) and numerous other professionals to craft and deliver a unique curriculum comprising of skills that were enjoyable and could generate alternative sources of income for sex workers. These skills, such as embroidery, candle-making, soap-making, threading and waxing were easy-to-learn and required minimal raw material and storage. It was capsule community learning, with a difference.
We decided to use the power of one taboo to challenge another. And came up with Project Free Period - an initiative that turned their 3 days of periods, or 3 days of no work, into 3 days of learning. We partnered with professional trainers and Prerana, an anti-trafficking NGO, to create a unique curriculum. It comprises of skills that can create economic sustenance, and are compressed into 3-day modules. We held our first workshop for women in Kamathipura, Asia’s 2nd largest red-light area. Our curriculum was made up of vocational courses that we ran around the month, every month. To help scale up our ability to train, on International Women’s Day, we put out a social media campaign to recruit volunteer trainers. We also got popular influencers and collaborated with other brands to create more training and recruitment options.
Project Free Period (PFP) has fuelled unprecedented conversations around India’s two biggest taboos – periods and prostitution; with our reach going from 20 million in the first year to now over 2.2 billion. Global and international media networks accelerating our momentum. We now have a network of over 11,200 students and 70000 volunteers across the country. And from 15,000 period days in year one, we've now helped transform over 100,000 period days into days of skilling. PFP is a path-breaking model where private sector meets not-for-profit partnership model that a host of India’s biggest brands – Hotstar (media), Ujjivan (banking), Big Bazaar (retail) and Nestle (foods) want to participate in. What PFP gives the women, for the first time in their lives, is the power to choose. Choose to leave the profession. Choose to turn away customers who not using protection. Most importantly, a choice in their children's future.
There’s nothing good that comes to mind when you think of periods. Even more so, in India. Here, girls drop out of school at the onset of periods. Women on their period are considered impure and disallowed entry into temples or even their own kitchens. It’s all of this that continues to drag the topic of periods deeper into the dark corners of society. Stayfree, a leading sanitary brand, is committed to changing the perceptions and behaviour around periods. And we believe the only way to make society more comfortable about this topic is to keep sparking different conversations around this taboo subject. And that’s what drew our attention to these women in the sex trade. While periods, for them, came with the same set of biological inconveniences, they actually looked forward to it. Because it was the only time of the month where they couldn’t be forced to work.