After winning national recognition, the Laadli Media and Advertising Awards 2012-13, for her menstrual hygiene journalism, Urmila took it as a sign that perhaps she was meant to do more on this issue. She knew she didn’t just want to engage as a journalist, but to work as a trainer, as an activist, and an ambassador for breaking the myths around menstruation.
While the recognition of her work encouraged her to develop the Breaking the Silence Campaign, Urmila says that this journey to this campaign has been at least 5 years in the making. She attributes her current success to the seeds of community and solidarity that were planted before there was ever a campaign, or even the idea of it.
As the youngest in her family, Urmila didn’t speak much growing up. “There was no one to hear me when I wanted to speak,” she says. After hitting a low point of isolation and low self confidence in 2010, Urmila logged into World Pulse for the first time and found a supportive community that listened to and celebrated her emerging voice. In the years since, she has relied on sisters near and far to help her realize her vision. “I am confident because I have sisters who stand with me in spirit.”
And they have stood with her in more tangible ways as well: advising her on curriculum, sewing reusable pads for her to distribute, coordinating logistics, suggesting training opportunities, reviewing grant proposals, donating money, meeting her with a friendly face in a strange city. “Breaking the Silence has not been an individual success,” Urmila declares. Her voice gets soft as she speaks about the number of people, including men, who have helped volunteer or supported her cause on social media. Her journey may appear a solo one, as she travels alone to each new community, but she is buoyed by support and encouragement from all over the world.