Menstruation is a topic that is not talked about enough. Today, there are people around the world enduring menstruation cycles, bearing extreme pain and discomfort, yet not uttering a word about it. Why, as a society, have we failed to acknowledge the presence of the most natural things in the world? Our initiative Barkat, which roughly translates to prosperity in English, is on the quest to find the answer to that very question.
Barkat is a group of Kwantlen Polytechnic University students and open-minded individuals aiming to break taboos and create public awareness about menstruation, and our team has heard both heart-wrenching stories and hopeful recounts that left our heart’s full. The melancholic tale of a 10-year-old whose own mother blamed her for getting her periods early, compared to the gleeful story of a child who had her mother’s support through every stage of her womanhood, marks the societal extremes of menstrual support.
As a result of the first story, the 10-year-old is now a grown woman who questions if her mother and the other women of that generation were to blame. We think not, but it wouldn’t be challenging to find such 10-year-olds in today’s world. Barkat wants to change that. Our mission is to generate more awareness and compassion around the topic of menstruation and to encourage a global dialogue. Barkat believes in providing a platform to do so.
The idea of Barkat originates from South Asian ideology, where a woman is treated with the highest honour and is worshipped for being the bearer of kings, warriors, and everyone great that has existed. Ironically, it is the same community that condemns a 10-year-old for beginning menstruation at a young age.
These are the double standards that need to be eradicated from society, and Barkat believes that this is only possible through open dialogue. Change can only begin from within, Barkat will do anything and everything to promote change, but the results will only be seen when people start to accept it.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Barkat on its mission to bring about change. The team has encountered numerous challenges in persuading people, communities, and organizations to embrace our initiative. At times, discussing the topic of menstruation was met with resistance and discomfort.
However, Barkat knew encountering obstacles was inevitable in any worthwhile endeavour, and precisely these hurdles fueled the determination to keep pushing forward. The team saw the resistance as evidence that our initiative was making waves and challenging deep-rooted societal norms. After all, the very essence of our cause was to shake things up and bring about positive change in the way menstruation is perceived and treated worldwide.
As the initiative continues to grow, Barkat remains inspired by the countless stories of resilience and hope we encounter. We are determined to carry the torch, ignite conversations that empower individuals to embrace their bodies, normalise menstruation, and foster a world where menstrual health is considered an integral part of overall well-being.
Barkat aims to host workshops, collaborate with medical professionals to provide expert insights, and create peer support groups.
We recently held an event at a North Indian highschool where participants engaged in discussions about maintaining good menstrual hygiene, using menstrual products safely, and addressing common misconceptions about menstruation, shedding light on two critical issues — endometriosis and heavy bleeding. These discussions provided valuable information and support for those who might be experiencing these health concerns.
We also aim to partner with schools and local organisations to reach a wider audience and utilise online resources and social media for raising awareness.
Words possess an everlasting impact, transcending generations even after they have passed. For KPU students, The Runner serves as a gateway to initiate crucial discussions and immortalise them for the benefit of future generations.
To learn more about menstruation and Barkat, visit www.changewithbarkat.com.