The founder and staff of the Myna Mahila Foundation are opening up about what attending the royal wedding was like.
The foundation caught the Duchess’s eye after she learned of its work manufacturing and distributing affordable menstrual pads to women living in Mumbai’s slums. The organization was one of seven groups the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex invited wellwishers to donate to instead of sending gifts. Founder Suhani Jalota and several staff members were also among the guests at the wedding and reception that followed.
“It was the highlight of the day, to meet the bride. She was as down to earth and as approachable as ever,” Jalota told reporters after the wedding. “She said that now she would be able to give more time to Myna and other humanitarian work.”
Jalota’s statements hint that a trip to India is in the new Duchess’s future. It is widely believed that Meghan and Harry will take a tour of the Commonwealth countries in the coming months. Meghan has a long history of advocacy for women and girls, particularly around issues of menstrual hygiene and the stigma that surrounds periods.
In an interview with Glamour magazine, Jalota also detailed what the invite meant to her family, particularly for those members for whom the memory of colonialism remains strong. “For my extended family and for my grandparents specifically, this is unbelievable,” Jalota says. “It’s the biggest deal in the world because they lived under British rule. I’ve had to take my invitation with me wherever I go so I can show it to them; both sets of my grandparents cried. My parents are kind of confused as to how and what is happening.”
It was at a Glamour Woman of the Year event in 2016 that Meghan first learned of Jalota and the Myna Mahila Foundation’s work. She was so interested in the group’s efforts to get Indian women menstrual hygiene supplies that she visited its factory during her 2017 trip to Mumbai.
The foundation is now using its newfound name recognition to host a “Chaat for Change” fundraiser while Jalota is in London. The May 21 event will feature authentic Mumbai street food and guests as the organization details its plans to expand into other neighborhoods in Maharashtra.