Breaking News
December 11, 2018 - Krystal 2000 microplate design improves fluorescence and luminescence measurement
December 11, 2018 - FDA clears mobile medical app to help increase retention in recovery program for opioid use disorder
December 11, 2018 - Overcoming Challenges in High-Speed Centrifugation Experiments
December 11, 2018 - Study shows link between neighborhoods’ socioeconomic status and dietary choices
December 11, 2018 - Lower BMI before obesity surgery predicts greater post-operative weight loss, study finds
December 11, 2018 - Obesity May Be Driving Rise in Uterine Cancers
December 11, 2018 - Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes
December 11, 2018 - Oral cancer prognostic signature identified
December 11, 2018 - How Can I Find Out What Caused My Miscarriage?
December 11, 2018 - Novel personalized medicine tool for assessing inherited colorectal cancer syndrome risk developed
December 11, 2018 - Study uncovers 11 new genes associated with epilepsy
December 11, 2018 - Filling research gaps could help develop more disability-inclusive workplaces
December 11, 2018 - Cartilage tissue engineering brings good news for patients with cartilage defects
December 11, 2018 - Novel 3D printing workflow helps predict leaky heart valves
December 11, 2018 - Imagination can help overcome fear and anxiety-related disorders, shows study
December 11, 2018 - Are caries linked to political regime?
December 11, 2018 - Leader in Diabetes Clinical Trials Wins Naomi Berrie Award
December 11, 2018 - Scientists discover cellular mechanism that triggers pneumonia in humans
December 11, 2018 - Increasing mental health problems related to drug use in over 55’s
December 11, 2018 - High-intensity interval exercise could help combat cognitive dysfunction in obese people
December 11, 2018 - Annual flu shot can save lives of heart failure patients
December 11, 2018 - Researchers compare health outcomes for VA and non-VA hospitals
December 11, 2018 - Recommendations Developed for Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment
December 11, 2018 - Genetic analysis links obesity with diabetes, coronary artery disease
December 11, 2018 - Study shows that having genetic information can affect how the body responds
December 11, 2018 - UNAIDS Report: 9 Million Are Likely HIV Positive And Don't Know It
December 11, 2018 - Lund University researchers succeed in obtaining dendritic cells by direct reprogramming
December 11, 2018 - Breast tumors recruit bone marrow cells to boost their growth, study reveals
December 11, 2018 - Updated breast cancer screening guideline highlights importance of shared decision-making
December 11, 2018 - EHR-related stress associated with physician burnout
December 11, 2018 - AHA: 12-Year-Old Heart Defect Survivor Inspires NFL Player’s Foundation
December 11, 2018 - Breast cancer patients who take heart drug with trastuzumab have less heart damage
December 11, 2018 - Providing aid to those humans – and animals – affected by the California fires
December 11, 2018 - Even without proof, CBD is finding a niche as a cure-all
December 11, 2018 - Drawing leads to better memory than writing
December 11, 2018 - Researchers report novel findings on plant hormone
December 10, 2018 - A Tale of Two Labels
December 10, 2018 - Triple combination cancer immunotherapy improves outcomes in preclinical melanoma model
December 10, 2018 - A 14-year-old explains what it’s like to get a new heart
December 10, 2018 - Team Players Honored with 2018 Baton Awards
December 10, 2018 - Global report highlights how the changing world is affecting children’s physical activity levels
December 10, 2018 - Genes play a role in physical activity and sleep
December 10, 2018 - DDT in Alaskan fish shown to increase risk of cancer
December 10, 2018 - Laws to curb use of cell phones have greatly reduced fatalities for motorcyclists
December 10, 2018 - Argenx Provides Detailed Data from Phase 2 Clinical Trial of Efgartigimod in Immune Thrombocytopenia and Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial of Cusatuzumab in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
December 10, 2018 - University of Maryland doctors treat first breast cancer patients with GammaPod radiotherapy
December 10, 2018 - The heartbeat seat: Demoing new well-being technologies in a car
December 10, 2018 - Leading Cancer Researcher to Direct Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
December 10, 2018 - Researchers explore how glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
December 10, 2018 - Study compares pain-related diagnoses in First Nations and non-First Nations children, youth
December 10, 2018 - Experts address sleep disorders following traumatic brain injury
December 10, 2018 - Scientists find answers to how cancer spreads
December 10, 2018 - Study explores why older people read more slowly
December 10, 2018 - Smart life-collar could save lives of young children
December 10, 2018 - Asbestos found in most NHS hospitals finds BBC inquiry
December 10, 2018 - Researchers use new technique to probe hydrogen bonds
December 10, 2018 - Music improves social communication in autistic children
December 10, 2018 - Some Brain Tumors May Respond to Immunotherapy, New Study Suggests
December 10, 2018 - Banning junk food ads to combat childhood obesity
December 10, 2018 - Skin Autofluorescence Predicts T2DM, Heart Disease, Mortality
December 10, 2018 - Largest autism sequencing study to date yields 102 genes associated with ASD
December 10, 2018 - Statins associated with low risk of side effects
December 10, 2018 - Episodic memory tests help in predicting brain atrophy and Alzheimer’s disease
December 10, 2018 - Study explores how schools address adolescent self-harming practices
December 10, 2018 - Pregnancy in adolescence linked to increased risks of complications in young mothers
December 10, 2018 - Risk Analysis publishes special issue on communicating about Zika virus
December 10, 2018 - Botox May Help Prevent Post-Op A-Fib
December 10, 2018 - African-American mothers rate boys higher for ADHD
December 10, 2018 - Graphic warning labels cancel out cigarettes’ appeal to young people
December 10, 2018 - Australian researchers to study gas inhalational anaesthetic and likelihood of cancer return
December 10, 2018 - Individual neurons located within the brain have implications for psychiatric diseases
December 10, 2018 - Researchers improve bariatric surgery scoring system to extend prediction time for diabetic remission
December 10, 2018 - HPV type 16 or 18 associated with cervical cancer risk in young women
December 10, 2018 - Cervical cancer risk is higher in women with positive HPV, but no cellular abnormalities
December 10, 2018 - Combo therapy not needed if low RA disease activity achieved
December 10, 2018 - Novel therapeutic targets based on biology of aging show promise for Alzheimer’s disease
December 10, 2018 - UC San Diego professor receives NCI Outstanding Investigator Award for cancer research
December 10, 2018 - Study evaluates placental mesenchymal stem cell sheets for myocardial repair and regeneration
December 10, 2018 - Blueprint Medicines Announces Updated Results from Ongoing EXPLORER Clinical Trial of Avapritinib Demonstrating Broad Clinical Activity and Significant Symptom Reductions in Patients with Systemic Mastocytosis
December 10, 2018 - Study clarifies ApoE4’s role in dementia
Empowering women in India to improve their health: A Q&A

Empowering women in India to improve their health: A Q&A

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Suhani Jalota was only 20 years old when she established the Myna Mahila Foundation to help impoverished women in the slums of her native city, Mumbai.

Now, at 24, she is embarking on her pursuit of a PhD in health policy on the economics track at Stanford Medicine’s Department of Health Research and Policy.

Last year, Jalota, who is also in the first cohort of Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars, received a Queen’s Young Leaders award from Queen Elizabeth II, shown above, and attended the royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, who is now Duchess of Sussex.

I caught up with Jalota recently.

Who inspired you to become a social entrepreneur at such a young age?

I come from a government family and, growing up, our conversations at home were always about the development of India and the status of women. My father has worked on water sanitation for the city; my mom works with underprivileged girl children; and my brother creates water filters. My grandparents were in the police. It’s our family calling.

As for entrepreneurship, it was Duke University, the Baldwin Scholars Program and the Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurship Fellowship that actually made me believe that all the dreams I had to change the pitiful state of things in Mumbai could actually be achievable.

Then in 2011, I met Jockin Arputham, who spent 40 years working in the slums of Mumbai as founder of Slum Dwellers International. He became my inspiration, my idol and my mentor.

What inspired you to create the Myna Mahila Foundation?

The slum community leaders and I became very chatty. That’s where the name comes from. Myna from the chatty South Asian bird and Mahila, which means women in Hindi.

You see, 320 million women in India do not have access to sanitary pads. And menstruation in India is a taboo health topic; there is stigma to shopping for sanitary pads. Most women use rags on their periods and these often become dirty, leading to urinary and vaginal infections.

When your horizon is the lining of the slum settlement, it is difficult to see another way of life. I realized the problems lay deeply entrenched in a woman’s lack of agency, or ability to make decisions. Hiding your periods, not cooking food or sleeping with the family during your periods, not going to the temple or playing sports — you believe this is the only way to live.

So we came up with a scheme to sell sanitary pads door-to-door to women who would normally not leave their homes or go to a pharmacy to buy them from male clerks. And we get to know these women; I learned that if women were confident to talk about their periods and menstrual hygiene, it could break the silence surrounding domestic violence or sanitation.

Tell us about the women who work for you and the women you serve.

We employ women from the slum communities we serve.

We currently meet about 10,000 women at their doorsteps every month across Mumbai. We’re trying to make sure that she understands that it’s a normal health cycle that should not stop her from getting her education and jobs.

What are your goals for graduate school?

To learn more research techniques to use for conducting experiments, including on women’s demand for health care, the effects of positions of power in seeking health care, and the connection between environment and health.

I will also be spending my December breaks and summers in India working at the foundation. I also hope to continue data collection for my undergraduate dissertation topic: the effect of environmental changes on health outcomes, such as child stunting levels in the slums.

I’m curious about Meghan Markle’s visit to the foundation in January 2017.

When she came to visit she told us she would support us in any way that she could. She kept her word. For us being chosen as one of seven charities for the royal wedding, I thought to myself, oh my God, she really thinks that we’re on to something that could actually change the world for many women.

I feel like I have a huge responsibility to live up to their expectations. Now we have to keep our word to them and help women meet their true potential.

A longer version of this piece appears at Stanford Health Policy. 

Photo by The Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles