News August 14, 2020

An 8-Point Plan to Tackle COVID-19 Among Women in Mumbai Slums

“We’ve never been closer to each other or to those we serve," says Health Policy PhD candidate Suhani Jalota, founder of the Myna Mahila Foundation, a Mumbai-based women’s health and employment nonprofit. Its mission is to create the next generation of women leaders in urban slum communities — but COVID-19 isn't making it easy.
An illustration by Irene Servillo
Illustration by Irene Servillo

Suhani Jalota, a PhD health policy candidate who is also working on her MBA at the Graduate School of Business, founded the Myna Mahila Foundation to help women in Mumbai’s slums overcome the stigma of menstruation.

In India, a nationwide lockdown was announced in mid-March because of the pandemic. A lot of Myna Mahila’s regular activities had to be paused, but being based in the heart of the epidemic in some of Mumbai’s densest slums, we had a responsibility to provide relief to families there. 

"It’s very challenging for the government and most external organizations to support vulnerable populations in the slums, since diseases spread quickly in these hotspots," Jalota says in this GSB story. "And now that they’re sealed off, with no travel allowed to or from them, it’s become very difficult to gain access.

"So we created an eight-point plan to tackle COVID-19. We provide sanitary napkins and food and ration relief, reaching more than 8,000 girls and providing these essential food kits to more than 60,000 people (and counting). We have also repurposed our sanitary napkin manufacturing to produce face masks for people in the slums by empowering unemployed women at home to use their stitching machines. We’ve manufactured and distributed more than 7,500 face masks in less than a month."

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