About Our Comic
Ariana conducting a Menstrual Hygiene Management training in Uttar Pradesh
Photo Credit: The Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana
Page Table of Contents:
Why this is important
Before living in Uttar Pradesh (UP), India, I hadn’t thought much about menstruation. I was the last one in my class to get my period and when I did, my dad bought me flowers and my mother wanted to throw me a period party. With such a body-positive family, I felt like periods were, if anything, too much in the limelight.
While working for a local non-governmental organization (NGO) in UP, I surveyed hundreds of girls in rural villages to ask what they needed. What I heard over and over again was: We need information about how our bodies work, why we change during puberty, and how to care for ourselves.
So I began sitting in on menstrual hygiene trainings, studying best practices from other local NGOs, and learning how to conduct my own. The overwhelming majority of women and girls with whom we spoke used mattress stuffing or dirty rags as pads and hadn’t learned about menstruation until they’d already begun bleeding. I couldn’t stop imagining how terrifying it would be to suddenly begin bleeding profusely from my genitals without understanding why it’s happening.
Story after story solidified my devotion to assist these girls in knowing and loving their bodies.
One girl recounted how her friend died of an infection. As a sanitary napkin, the friend used a dirty rag that had cleaned a bicycle. She was then too ashamed of her vaginal discomfort to seek medical help.
I began realizing what those in this field already know: this issue requires widespread attention. And this issue requires much more than briefly supplying girls with information and sanitary napkins. If girls internalize they are inherently impure, then they’re set up for a life of devaluing their bodies. The social norms and mindsets of shame surrounding vaginas and periods have fatal and traumatic psychological consequences.
I created Spreading Your Wings to help address these obstacles. No other Hindi or English comic book exists that speaks to the rural specific logistical and social challenges these girls face. The book incorporates metaphors, games, and explanations that my team and I have seen resonate with girls in our trainings.
We strive to not just equip girls with accurate and relatable information, but to help them reframe the very way that they see their bodies, to transform the shame they feel into pride.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about Spreading Your Wings and this issue we care deeply about. To learn more about this issue and why it's important, check out my article, "Becoming a Menstruating Woman." We’d be overjoyed if you helped us spread the word. Thanks again!
Author, Artistic Director, and Production Manager of Spreading Your Wings
Why we made a comic instead of a book
The book is ultimately for children; and if it’s engaging and colorful, they’ll be more likely to read it. Our comic is meant to provide joy and lightness to a topic usually considered weighty and, by doing so, diminish the embarrassment girls are made to feel about their bodies and this subject matter.
We wanted to develop a resource that NGOs can use hand in hand with trainings, helping girls remember what they learn and feel eager to share that information with other girls. Spreading Your Wings reviews basic biological concepts and then goes on to supply more comprehensive information that’s often left out of trainings or sanitation pamphlets because there aren’t the resources or time to cover everything.
We also wanted girls from more conservative homes to have a resource they can explore privately. Finally, we wanted to reinforce reading in communities that don’t have libraries or access to books and hope to begin paving the way with our easy-to-read book that girls can connect with instantly.
Special features of Spreading Your Wings
Spreading Your Wings is meant to also help teach women and girls how to run their own trainings. We feature two such activities that we’ve tested with girls during our trainings. An appendix reviews key facts about menstrual side-effects, UTIs and RTIs; suggests key foods to eat; and explains when to seek medical attention. Additionally, we have a section with tips on what makes an effective trainer and instructions for how girls can sew their own cloth sanitary napkins. The appendix ensures the key take-away facts from the comic are easy to find and review.
What donations fund
Donations ensure the book will be affordable to NGOs, schools, and skill centers across India who will distribute them. Every Rs.650 ($10 USD) donated, subsidizes the costs of 10 books for these buyers. This is purely a labor of love, with the majority of our team (including Ariana) taking no compensation, creating this simply because we care deeply about these girls and believe they deserve better.
If you wish to make a donation in INR please fill our Declaration Form of Rupee Donations.
We require this form be completed before any INR donation can be submitted. Once this form is completed, someone from Zubaan publishing will provide details for how to send your donation via check or direct bank transfer.
We are thrilled to share the success of our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, where 180 individual donors gave a total of $10,713! This will cover the costs of the illustrations, Hindi translation, and initial publishing of 2,000 Hindi and English comic books.
Please keep in mind that neither donations made in USD or INR are tax deductible.
Partnering with us
Our ability to offer affordable prices and bulk orders to NGOs, schools, and skill centers depends largely on both donations and partnerships. If you or your organization is interested in joining us in reaching out to girls, we’d love to hear from you via our Contact Form.
We seek partners who share our commitment to ensuring Spreading Your Wings is accessible to girls in rural areas and affordable for NGOs to purchase at scale. Additionally, if you are a large multi-national NGO, foundation, or other organization with local Indian partners already working in this space, let us know whether you’d be interested in subsidizing the book’s cost for your particular partners.
We hope to inspire individuals and organizations to adapt Spreading Your Wings to other local contexts and we aspire to create future comics that address other social challenges. Overtime, we’d like to study the effects of this work to more finely meet the needs of girls. So if you are interested in translating Spreading Your Wings into another language or surveying the comic's effects, don’t hesitate to fill out our Contact Form!
Our policies do not allow any advertisements nor content change to promote a brand or product.
About our publisher
Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house based in New Delhi. They publish academic books, fiction,
memoirs and popular nonfiction, as well as books for children and young adults under their Young Zubaan imprint. Zubaan strives to be pioneering, cutting-edge, progressive and inclusive.
Zubaan’s name is associated strongly with high quality fiction by women in South Asia, both in translation and written in English. Their trade non-fiction includes memoirs, popular history and books on the women’s movement for a general audience. Under the Young Zubaan imprint, they publish a range of fiction and non-fiction titles for younger adults and children.
Alongside their publishing activities, Zubaan functions as a not-for-profit trust handling a variety of research and outreach projects in the areas of gender, feminism and the women’s movement.
To learn more about Zubaan visit their website by clicking the button below.
For NGOs, schools, libraries, skill centers, and bulk orders of 5 books or more, Spreading Your Wings, will be sold at a substantially discounted rates.
We anticipate the Hindi Spreading Your Wings to be available in the summer of 2020! To express interest in pre-ordering the Hindi or to receive further purchasing details, please fill out our Contact Form.
The delivery times for bulk orders will vary based on current stock, and future printings will take 5 to 7 weeks once the initial copies are sold.
To ensure Spreading Your Wings is available to individual buyers and is publicized to a wide audience, it also will be sold at a variety of book stores and online retailers at market value. All profits made from these sales cover the distribution and publishing overhead costs.
There will be no royalties because our goal is simple: to make available an effective educational resource that’s cheap enough to reach thousands of girls. We are determined to see this book reach 20,000 girls within the first year of publishing the Hindi edition.
All comic book shipments will be made from Delhi, India, home to Zubaan, our publishing house. Please keep in mind, if your order is sent to a location outside of India, the price will reflect additional shipping costs.
Additional Articles & Resources
If you’re interested in reading more on the topic of menstruation in India, please check out the links to resources and articles included below.