Mayuri Bhattacharjee: Improving citizen aid
Mayuri Bhattacharjee, a menstrual health educator and trainer, was horrified by what she saw in the aftermath of the 2019 floods in Assam, India. The camps where she was working had no programmes or relief items to support women’s menstrual health. Women deserved better, she thought. She launched the Dignity in Floods campaign (now Dignity in Disasters), and started pushing hard for change. After two years of petitioning, and with more than one million supporters behind her, the government of India finally recognised the menstrual health rights of women during floods and ensured all flood reliefs camps would now be stocked with sanitary pads. Bhattacharjee’s hope is that her example of citizen activism inspires other “non-humanitarians” to get involved in whatever way moves them. Aside from women’s health, her group now helps bring knowledge and tools about aid to those outside the sector who want to make a difference, so there’s a quality standard for ad hoc assistance. “In short, we want to inspire your friendly neighbourhood aunt to become the next Henry Dunant,” she says, referring to the noted Swiss humanitarian’s role in inspiring the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863.