Vice-Patron of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex met Queen’s Young Leaders, Deane and Aditya, who are transforming women’s health across India.
In India, it is estimated that over 23 million girls each year drop out of school early due to lack of menstrual hygiene facilities and the stigma surrounding menstruation. Today, The Countess met with Queen’s Young Leader Deane De Menezes, who is tackling this major threat to gender inequality in disadvantaged communities in Mumbai. Through her organisation, Red is the New Green, Deane is working to end the embarrassment faced by women and girls about their periods, to improve access to sanitary products, and provide eco-friendly disposal solutions.
On a visit to Sir Elly Kadoorie School, one of 30 locations where Deane is working, The Countess met girls and their mothers who have benefited from awareness raising sessions that Deane’s organisation provides and was shown the low-cost sanitary towel vending machines and incinerators which have helped to bring about a reduction in female absenteeism. The Countess was presented with a period pouch which are given to girls at her training sessions to provide them with somewhere clean and safe to keep their pads.
The Countess also met with Queen’s Young Leader, Aditya Kulkarni, who is working to reduce maternal and child mortality rates in India. Globally, around 800 women die every day of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and 20 per cent of these cases are in India. Aditya co-created “CareMother”, a mobile and online platform which enables health workers to provide pregnant women who would otherwise not have been reached with antenatal check-ups at their homes. Within the last two years, Aditya and his team have provided affordable care to more than 30,000 pregnant women in over 800 villages in India, Bangladesh and Kenya.
At the Padmanagar Apnalaya Health Centre, The Countess spoke with health workers who use CareMother daily to monitor the health of expectant mothers, as well as women who have used the app to monitor their pregnancy.