Alumna Suhani Jalota (B.S. '16) was named one of the 2017 Queen's Young Leader Award winners for her work in women's health and female entrepreneurship initiatives in India. The award honors exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Award winners receive training, mentoring, and networking opportunities, as well as a one-week residential program in the United Kingdom, during which they will receive their award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Jalota, an economics and global health double major, founded the Myna Mahila Foundation (MMF) in 2015 to increase accessibility to menstrual hygiene products for impoverished women in India. The organization also serves as a network a young women entrepreneurs and a means to generate employment. MMF has a manufacturing unit that currently employs 18 women to produce, market, and distribute sanitary pads door-to-door.
“We want to create a network of young female entrepreneurs that are making these low cost, high quality, everyday and useful products,” Jalota said in an interview with The Chronicle. “We want to start with menstrual hygiene because it is something that will start to break the stigma (attached to menstruation).” She was selected as one of Glamour magazine's 2016 College Women of the Year and ultimately won the $20,000 grand prize — funding which she put back into MMF.
She recently met with World Vision Global Ambassador Meghan Markle during the actress and philanthropist's recent charity trip to India. Jalota spent "considerable" time with Markle in Mumbai's slums, where they discussed the importance of proper menstrual hygiene and issues surrounding periods for women and young girls in slum communities.
"Suhani's dedication towards helping improve the lives of young girls and women has played a large part in choosing India (for my) field mission as an ambassador for World Vision," Markle said.