As a teenager, Gupta became aware of puberty and menstruation myths. She always felt the need for trust-worthy and easily-accessible information. Whenever she tried talking about it to her mother or someone elderly, her queries would either get hushed up or dismissed.
Gupta grew up and decided to change things. She took up an initiative of creating a comic book and website to bring forth a platform for growing girls as well as women to know more about the bodily changes they face.
Along with her then NID (National Institute of Design) batch-mate Tuhin Paul (now her husband), Gupta ended up doing a research project for the Ford foundation on Menstruation, myths surrounding it and other facts about it. Their project was then compiled into a comic book which was more of an interactive journal on menstruation. During her research Gupta interacted with many school girls, NGOs and parents on the subject and found that the best time to educate girls about menstruation was when they are most likely to experience menarche (the first menstruation). Textbooks in the Indian Educational system on the other hand introduced the topic of menstruation in a very insufficient manner and very late (after the onset of menstruation of girls).
This project won a scholarship and later became the base for 'Menstrupedia.com', a website which is a complete guide for menstruation providing access to information, myths, FAQs, blogs, interactive videos and comic strips on menstruation.
Menstrupedia which Gupta and Paul began in August 2012 after quitting their jobs, barely saw 900 visitors per month in its initial year, crossed the 70,000 visitors' mark this year and the site currently sees around 2,500 visitors per day.
“As a starting point we envisioned a website that would serve as an easy to follow, medically correct guide guide on menstruation along with beautiful supportive illustrations,” says Aditi.
The admins of the site include Aditi, her husband and co-founder Tuhin, Rajat Mittal who is a technological expert and a practising gynaecologist Dr.Mahadeo Bhide.
When asked whether Indian parents who still consider menstruation a taboo would buy their daughters the comic book or let them access the website...
Gupta said: Parents today do feel that their daughters should know about menstruation but due to lack of proper means and inherent embarrassment, they leave the subject unaddressed for girls. We we tested the comic book prototype with 500 girls, parents and teachers and all of them have loved it. In fact, the largest amount of contributions have come from parents of young girls which clearly suggests that parents want things to change for their daughters and the coming generation.
With their comic book and website they aim to reach three million girls in the next three years. They plan on doing this along with the help of various NGOs and schools. They also plan on translating the comic book in 15 different Indian languages in the next three years which would make it easier to reach out to more and more Indian girls.
It is very important that young girls have access to reliable information that would help them grow up loving their bodies. Many young girls in India face a lot of problems due to lack of hygeine and misguidance, which can be avoided with the availability of proper information, adds Gupta.