Aman Preet is daughter of a Ludhiana-based engineer-doctor couple
Her father, a retired PSPCL engineer, looks after her mission in Punjab
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, her maid living in a Noida slum shared with her that she was struggling to get sanitary pads. And that she is back to old ways of using a piece cloth triggered instant resolve in Aman Preet, a 2010-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, to reach out to the women with such needs across India.
Born and brought up in Ludhiana, Punjab, this COVID-19 warrior has, since then, provided free sanitary napkins to about 12.5 lakh women and girls of poor families in 17 states across the country. And her crusade is on.
Amid the pandemic when many social organizations, NGO’s and individuals stood up to help the needy and vulnerable sections of society with food, clothes, sanitisers, face masks etc. this officer, going beyond her call of duty, reached out to the women across the country to help them with their menstrual needs.
“Early on I realised that sanitary pads are as essential as food and masks because periods don’t stop during pandemic and lockdown,” she said when asked about her passion-driven nationwide Pad distribution campaign.
In the course of pursuing her mission so far, she has also created a vast network of Pad women and Pad men who have been lending a helping hand to her in nationwide distribution of lakhs of sanitary pads to the needy women since imposition of lockdown. They include her family, batchmates, friends, seniors and NGO’s.
Her team includes people from all walks of life be her driver, Noor who was with her distributing pads even during his Ramzan fasts, green group women of Uttar Pradesh, a Blogger from Prayagraaj, fisherwomen from Sundarbans (Bengal), a Hindi writer from Allahabad, Unani doctors of Punjab, homemakers of Surat, granthis of Gurdwaras of Sangrur (Punjab), an Urdu teacher from Jammu, a Para athlete from Pondicherry, a Judo Olympian from Meerut, Shooter grandma from Baghpat, several college-going girls and boys across country who reach out to her for help by any means.
Posted as a Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, Delhi, Aman Preet has also inspired many social organisations, Foundations, Trusts, civil servants, who have volunteered to create awareness on the topic, which is still considered a taboo by a large section of our society.
She has made men and women talk about importance of menstrual hygiene along with personal hygiene during COVID-19. Of the total about 12.5 lakh women she and her teams have reached to, even in the remotest areas of the country, almost 50 percent of them used pads for the first time, she shared.
Her whole family including parents side has stood beside her while seeing her passion to reach out to the underprivileged sections. Her businessman husband Dikshit Passy has accompanied her in every distribution and has contributed monetarily for the purpose.
Her father Rachhpal Singh, a retired Engineer-in-Chief from Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and her mother Dr. Neeru have taken the reins of her mission in Punjab. They have organised many camps in Punjab and distributed around 20,000 pads in Ludhiana alone. Her parents tell that now women from surrounding slums have started coming to their house for free supply of sanitary pads.
This Post Gradutae from Panjab University, Chandigarh, shared stories of stunning lack of awareness among people about these pads. People refused to distribute these saying,”yeh gandi cheez hum nahin baant sakte” (We can’t distribute this dirty thing). People even refused to accept ration if given along sanitary napkins. There were women who said they need permission from husbands and in-laws. Some women, accepting pads for their daughters, said piece of cloth is fine for their own use. These women shared how they were using the discarded clothes to stop the menstrual blood.
In Bengal, women shared that their every little thing was washed away by super cyclone Amphan and not even a single piece of dry cloth was there with them to use. Many poor girls shared they had no means to buy pads because their parents had lost livelihood as daily wagers.
Shutting down of schools and colleges has rendered availability of the period products inaccessible and most girls in various parts of country do not feel comfortable even talking to their mothers about periods. And existence of taboos related to periods makes impossible for them to even go out and buy themselves. In the situation, many of them have fallen back on age-old methods which have adversely affected their mental and physical health. These girls also used to bring supplies for the other women in their houses and for friends who aren’t studying.
In Punjab and Hyderabad, anganwadi workers were roped in to provide many such girls and women. Several shelter homes, prisons, women police stations, ashrams, observation homes, leprosy homes and homes for specially-abled women and girls have been sent supplies of sanitary napkins.
Recently introduced to one such social organisation Sangini Saheli by her Delhi-based fashion designer friend Priyal Bhardwaj, Aman Preet has joined hands with the world’s largest Covid Care facility in Delhi’s Chattarpur to supply sanitary pads to women patients there.
Now popularly known as “didi”, she receives messages from across India asking for the supply of pads. Such requests serve to strengthen her resolve to end Period Poverty and make the accessibility of menstrual products to the underprivileged women in a dignified way.
Salute to such officers who have gone beyond their call of duty to help the fellow citizens amid war against the pandemic. Aman Preet is one such inspiring COVID-19 warrior in her own unique way.