The Girl Scouts of Western New York announced recently that Indian American Judith Monickaraj, of Rochester, New York, has achieved this year’s highest honor in Girl Scouts: the Girl Scout Gold Award.
She was chosen for this honor for her project, Launch Pads for Change, which she created to provide menstrual care and hygiene items to women in Pune, India.
Just like in the Bollywood film, “Padman,” which showcased the journey of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from Tamil Nadu who was inspired to create low-cost sanitary pads after learning how his wife used filthy rags during her menstrual cycle, Monickaraj was inspired to create handmade menstrual pads after learning that many girls may miss up to a week of school in India because they do not have access to feminine hygiene products.
She explains on her website: “As a woman who prioritizes her schoolwork, I could not imagine having such a disruption every month, with such a simple, yet unattainable, solution.”
She goes on to add that as a daughter of first-generation immigrants, she was “excited” to help the country that her parents and grandparents are from.
As her Gold Award project, Monickaraj began sewing together menstrual pads for these girls, creating a team consisting of her mother, her Girl Scout troop, and even her cousins and brother. Altogether, she was able to donate over 100 of these handmade pads.
Monickaraj, who is interested in pursuing a career in medicine, collaborated with Koinonia Fellowship, an organization that helps run a girls’ home in Pune and sends medical supplies annually.
“My aunt and uncle attend Koinonia fellowship, a church which annually makes the trip to India to minister to women and girls there,” she writes. “I saw the perfect opportunity to aid in their mission by providing them with a resource that is very necessary, yet often times overlooked.”
Monickaraj received her Gold Award at the Gold Award Ceremony June 2.
“The main goal of the Launch Pads for Change project is to provide women with the necessary hygienic tools they need to focus on greatness, and making an impact on their world,” she writes on her website.
Watch how Monickaraj created these sanitary napkins here: