India charity’s joy at Harry, Markle wedding gesture

Published April 10, 2018, 5:49 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

An Indian charity championing menstrual hygiene is over the moon at being chosen as one of seven organisations to benefit from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, its head said Tuesday.

The Myna Mahila Foundation helps disadvantaged women from Mumbai slums access cheap sanitary pads and campaigns to end taboos surrounding menstruation in the conservative Asian country.

Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle are set to tie the knot on May 19. (AFP/File / Ben STANSALL / MANILA BULLETIN)
Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle are set to tie the knot on May 19. (AFP/File / Ben STANSALL / MANILA BULLETIN)

The British prince and the US actress this week asked people who want to mark their nuptials next month to donate to charity rather than sending wedding gifts.

“When we found out we were really excited. We’re a small grassroots organisation and it felt really special,” Suhani Jalota, Myna Mahila’s founder and director, told AFP.

The organisation, which Markle visited last year, was founded in 2015 and helps around 10,000 women every month.

It provides information about menstrual hygiene and encourages women to talk about their periods to help break social stigma.

Myna is a bird native to South Asia known for its talkative nature while “mahila” means woman in Hindi.

The charity also produces low-cost sanitary pads which are manufactured and distributed by the women, providing employment.

Women in patriarchal India, particularly in rural areas, are frequently shunned during their monthly cycles while millions in poverty are forced to use items like old rags, sand and leaves, activists say.

Jalota, who described Markle as “very down-to-earth” when she met her, hopes the publicity and any wedding donations they receive can help the charity soon reach out to 30,000 Mumbai women.

Harry, 33 and Markle, 36, are set to tie the knot at Windsor Castle, west of London, on May 19 in front of 600 guests.

Harry is fifth in line to the throne after his father Charles, brother Prince William and William’s children Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

He will be bumped down to sixth place when William’s wife Kate gives birth later this month.