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‘Period Policy’ Launched In The Oldest Sikh Gurdwara In The UK

The Period Policy, created by Manjit K Gill, Founder & CEO of Binti International, in collaboration with the Peter V...

Editors note: this article was originally published by Youth Ki Awaaz on March 7th 2019
“Globally, and in the UK, we have heard countless stories of women not being allowed to perform religious tasks such as sewa (selfless service) while on their period. The charity collaborated with the Gurdwara to promote awareness that any women of any faith or background can go to the Gurdwara, take a pad and have a free hot meal.”

On February 10th 2019, Binti International, a charity focused on smashing stigma and shame surrounding menstruation, launched a Period Policy at the Khalsa Jatha Sikh Gurdwara, Shepherds Bush, London. This event was the first of its kind worldwide, with the Gurdwara Sahib being the first in the world to talk openly about periods and help to eradicate the stigma surrounding menstruation.

Why Do We Need A Policy In Place?

Did you know that 1 in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford menstrual products? The Period Policy, created by Manjit K Gill, Founder & CEO of Binti International, in collaboration with the Peter Virdee Foundation, promotes and ensures equality for everyone who visits the Gurdwara, from the regular congregation to first time visitors. This means providing free menstrual products and menstrual education to the Sikh Community, including open discussions around menstruation to eliminate shame, stigma and taboo.

Globally, and in the UK, we have heard countless stories of women not being allowed to perform religious tasks such as sewa while on their period. The charity collaborated with the Gurdwara to promote awareness that any women of any faith or background can go to the Gurdwara, take a pad and have a free hot meal. The Sikh community are being encouraged to donate menstrual pads so that all women can have access to free menstrual products. We firmly believe that once we conquer our own community, we can conquer the world.

The Day Of The Policy Launch

I was part of a group of women volunteers, along with the rest of the Binti team who were from differing religious backgrounds. Dressed in our red suits and red scarves adorning our heads, we were ready to answer any questions about the work of Binti. We set up an informative, colourful stand in the langar hall (open communal area in the Gurdwara where free hot vegetarian meals are served) where congregation usually gathered. There were several branded items on sale to raise money to send pads to Punjab, namely Binti mugs, badges, t-shirts, reusable pads and greetings cards.

Period Stories

Many period-related conversations were shared between both women and men, with a few below. Although there was some push-back leading up to the event, where some of the community still disagrees with the fact that all Sikh women can do ALL Sewa whilst menstruating, we were very happy to get the support from Khalsa Jatha Sahib. Some of the stories below shared by our Binti volunteering team show that the day was mostly filled with love and positivity.

1. A mother and daughter were on a pilgrimage in India when the daughter started her period. The mother was immediately concerned whether her daughter would be allowed to walk all the way up to the temple whilst menstruating; so she found a nearby phone booth and called a family member asking for advice. The family member said that the daughter should not visit the holy place whilst she is menstruating and that she should stop the
pilgrimage and walk back down. The obedient daughter listened to this advice and reluctantly left the pilgrimage.

2. A mother shared how she and her family celebrate periods. When a girl in the family starts her period, the mother and aunties present care packages to the girl and celebrate the momentous occasion with joy.

3. One man confessed to not knowing anything...

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