Aditi Gupta - Women Entrepreneur | Menstrupedia Founder
According to the Sixth Economic Census, released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, women constitute around 14% of the total entrepreneurship. This means that 8.05 million out of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs are women. Women are now at the forefront of many fields and are paving new pathways for younger generations and proving to be fabulous role models. Let us look at the story of one such inspiring woman entrepreneur ? Aditi Gupta. She is someone who has started a business that has revolutionised the lives of countless young women and is a perfect example of social entrepreneurship reaching new heights.
Early Age and Birth of Menstrupedia
Aditi Gupta was born in Garhwa, Jharkhand, India. The idea for her company sprung up in Aditi?s mind at a very early age. When Aditi was 12 years old, she got her period. At first she had no idea what was happening as she has not been exposed to the phenomenon of menstruation yet. She ran to her mother to try and understand what was happening to her. Aditi officially learnt about menstruation only when she was 15 years old.
Aditi?s family was old school, which she realised when she got her period. They had various customs which she did not find relevant. She had to sleep in a separate room, wash her clothes separately and was not allowed to touch a place of worship. In addition to this, she was also not allowed to purchase sanitary pads for the fear of the loss of her family?s dignity. Instead, she had to use old cloths as sanitary pads. She was appalled and upset with the lack of awareness and conversation around this crucial topic that impacted every girl at some point. This experience was the catalyst that led to the idea of her company Menstrupedia.
Aditi studied at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad where she met her future husband, with whom she worked on several projects. Both of them found a severe lack of awareness about menstruation even among educated people and thus they decided to start a company.
The Growth of MenstrupediaAditi Gupta did her research for one year to understand the lack of awareness and education around this topic. She spoke to doctors and girls which helped her collate information. This helped her start a comic book with three young girls and doctors as the titular characters. She put up these comics on a website which eventually developed into a helpful platform that provided information on puberty and sexuality for teens and pre-teens.
Menstrupedia is a website that puts out a user friendly guide to menstruation, puberty and health. It also busts several myths that are commonly believed about menstruation. The sole purpose of this website was to be a culturally sensitive and easy to understand method of understanding a taboo topic. The website contains a lot of sections such as comic books, blogs, Q&A section and a Learn section.
This comic has been integrated into the curriculum of over 70 schools across India, used by 6000 schools, 12 NGOs such as Protsahan, Munshi Jagannath Bhagwan Smriti Sansthan, Instincts, Kanha along with two Buddhists monasteries in Ladakh and 2,50,000 girls. It is able to disseminate knowledge in 18 different countries and has been translated into over 11 languages. Menstrupedia has started several campaigns in collaboration with Whisper India such as Touch the Pickle movement in collaboration with many actresses like Shraddha Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Kalki Koechlin, Neha Dhupia, Mandira Bedi among others.
Critical Reception for AditiInitially Aditi?s work was criticized a lot as it was touching upon a topic that was considered to be a taboo among a majority of people. However, slowly, she began to receive positive reviews for her work. A majority of online media and portals consider her work to be very important in raising awareness among the current generation of young girls.
Aditi is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and made it to the achiever's list of Forbes India Under 30 in 2014 for her work towards breaking the taboo around menstruation. She is an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNBC and BBC.
Take Away from Aditi?s Story
A majority of girls in India undergo the struggle of shame and taboo associated with menstruation. It is a tough time for them when they are trying to figure themselves out as individuals while being subjected to various standards and objectifications of the society. It is for this reason that Aditi?s work has been so successful in shaping so many lives. One of the important takeaways from Aditi?s story is the ambition to not just make money but to make lives better as well. This is what social entrepreneurship is. Social entrepreneurship involves finding solutions to various social and cultural problems. This kind of a positive change is very integral in today?s society.