A Conversation With Sukanya Biswas

Sukanya Biswas is a student, activist and writer based in Kolkata, India.

Kate Anderson-Song Head Interviewer

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Introduce yourself! 

Hello! My name is Sukanya Biswas. I am a student, activist, and writer based in Kolkata, India. With an aim to follow the academic career route and zeal for politics, I have always been passionate about social service. That is one of the reasons why I took the initiative to begin the journey with The Period Protection Project. It is a way I can give back to the community I love and motivate this generation to bring about change.

Introduce The Period Protection Project!

Founded in 2020, The Period Protection Project is a youth-run organization with a mission to end menstrual inequity through service, education, and advocacy. Through distribution drives, awareness campaigns, and regular talks on menstruation, we aim to put a PERIOD to the silence that still surrounds menstruation.

Currently, we serve periods within the city as well as in the suburban and rural areas surrounding it. We focus on keeping the conversation going at all times. Because the more we talk, the more we know and less of a taboo. We bear a witness to the daily lives and struggles of the menstruators, allowing us to understand their needs and, ultimately, identify with them.

But with every step, we realize there is a long path ahead of us because it takes time to change a system that has prevailed from the very beginning, even more for an issue that incites shame in people. However, periods don’t stop for anything. And neither should we!

How did you first get into advocating for menstrual equity? 

I have always believed that advocating for menstrual equity needs to be pro-choice. I began advocating for menstrual equity even before knowing what I was doing. Being raised in a Bengali household, not entering the so-called thakur ghar (place of worship), or touching holy books was a common restriction for me. So I challenged such norms that did not make sense. I reasoned with my friends who hid their pads on their way to the washrooms and my relatives who labeled menstruation as impure. I started donating pads to menstruators in areas around me with the money I used to win in school and tournaments. Step by step—until I finally laid the foundation for The Period Protection Project.   image1 (1).jpeg

Who inspires you? Do you have any role models in your life?

All the young changemakers out there are my inspiration. Often belittled for their age, they are working through the pandemic and beyond to make the world a better place. That is exactly what keeps me going each day.

As for role models, I admire Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee for his work and contribution towards alleviating global poverty.

This time of COVID-19 and the rise of anti-Asian hate has been difficult for the whole Overachiever community. How have you been coping with this time? How has your year been? Has your work changed or been affected at all? 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a lasting impact on our mental health. But now, with the rise of anti-Asian hate, there is a strong sense of familiarity in the air, along with a sinking feeling that the needle has not moved forward in all these years.

The lockdown has been challenging for me, just like everyone else, with rising feelings of loss and fear about the future. But hope for the future is important. Also, a need to adapt as well. Because this is the “new normal,” and we must accept it sooner. 

2020 was a difficult year, but 2021 has been full of opportunities for me. Work has certainly changed. Amidst such a time of crisis, the need to act for The Period Protection Project is increasing, and I can only hope that we are doing our best!   image2.jpeg

What does self care mean to you? How do you take care of yourself? 

To me, self care is not something that requires an elaborate plan. It can be as simple as taking a deep breath when you become stressed.

Self care does not mean choosing yourself over your loved ones. It simply means being mindful of your own needs so that you are better able to meet the needs of those around you. 

I think to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well, it is important to have some “me time.” Anything that makes you feel better is worth a little bit of time out of your day. For me, it includes reading, writing, and playing lawn tennis. Also, I believe it is important to remain socially connected as well. 

What are you working on right now? Or what is upcoming for you and your work? What are you looking forward to? 

Currently, I am working on a research paper on menstruation and economics. And my collection of short stories will be published in a few months!

At The Period Protection Project, we are working on collaborations with several small businesses to spread the word about menstruation and its challenges. We are excited to share them with the rest of the world. Also, we are organizing distribution drives and awareness campaigns in more remote areas where there is little to no availability of menstrual products or lack of affordability of menstrual products. 

We are looking forward to the post-COVID world, where we can organize more MHM sessions with an even wider audience and reach even more menstruators in need! 

Thank you so much for talking with Overachiever. Final question: How can others get involved with The Period Protection Project? 

There are a lot of opportunities for everyone to get involved with The Period Protection Project and our cause, in person as well as virtually. We are open to chapters or global initiatives of The Period Protection Project. 

Volunteers are the heroes. Our volunteering form is open to all. It can be volunteering to organize fundraisers/distribution drives/awareness campaigns with us. It can also be to help us with outreach, content creation, or social media promotion. If anyone wants to contribute to our cause using skillsets other than those already mentioned, they can contact us on Instagram (@theperiodprotectionproject) or via email (theperiodprotectionproject@gmail.com). image3 (1) (1).jpeg

Your favorite color: I have been loving sage and lilac lately. But black will always be my color. 

What item(s) can you not leave your house without:  My phone, sunglasses, and a bottle of water.

Any music/TV/film recommendations: I rarely watch shows and movies, but I listen to music a lot. The Neighbourhood, Arctic Monkeys, and Labrinth are some of my go-to’s.  

Ultimate comfort food: Pasta and…pasta.

What has been the highlight of your day today: An email bringing me the news that my short story has been selected to be published in an anthology. A paperback book to be launched on Amazon in August 2021! 

Sukanya Biswas is a student, activist, and writer based in Kolkata, India. She is the founder of The Period Protection Project, a youth-run organization with a mission to end menstrual equity through service, education, and advocacy.   

Social Media/Websites: Personal Instagram: @sukanyabiswas_

Organization Instagram: @theperiodprotectionproject

Website: www.sukanyabiswas.wordpress.com  

Head Interviewer

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