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Survey Reveals 89% Urban Women Haven’t Searched For New Menstrual Products In A Year!

Everteen, one of the partners of the global Menstrual Hygiene Day, conducted its Menstrual Hygiene Survey 2018 to assess the impact of periods on a woman’s lifestyle and work. The following are the results.

Initiated in 2013, the Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform supported by organisations like UNICEF and USAID to raise awareness about the challenges faced by women and girls worldwide due to menstruation, and highlight solutions to address such challenges. The theme for this year’s event was to empower women and girls through Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).

The survey saw participation from 2,128 urban, educated women from 85 Indian cities. Nearly 65% of the women were between 19 and 35 years of age, while 26% of the participants were aged from 36 to 50 years.

Contrary to popular belief, the survey revealed that price is no longer the primary determining factor while choosing a sanitary product. More than 95% women said that comfort, quality and health mattered the most to them. Ironically, while comfort emerged as the primary concern (52.1% of the participants), most of the women have not been actively looking for new sanitary products that can make their periods more comfortable. Almost 83% women said they have not even tried to search for new sanitary products in over a year. Nearly 52% women have not changed their choice of sanitary products in two or more years.

As many as 46% of the respondents said they did not know which product was used most often by women in developed countries such as the US and the UK. This probably highlights the fact that even urban, digital-savvy women are not fully aware of the new sanitary options available today, because of which periods often affect their careers, social and personal lives negatively.

On a related note, nearly 58% women claimed that menstrual activity directly impacted their productivity – with more than 49% women not being able to focus on work during periods. More than 8.4% women even said that they were criticised for not performing their tasks properly during periods. 46% of the working women had to take a leave from work due to periods, out of which nearly 40% took leaves more than three times in the year.

Periods also have a significant impact on a woman’s personal life and confidence. 60% of the physically-active women interviewed said they are not able to pursue outdoor activities such as swimming, yoga, gym, exercise and dancing during periods. One-third of the women who attend social and personal engagements such as family functions, parties and dates, said they are not free to do so during menstrual periods. 79% of the women said that periods impact their choice of clothes and the way they dress.

Hariom Tyagi, CEO of Wet & Dry Personal Care, says, “The need of the hour is complete feminine intimate hygiene, especially with nearly 49% of the women reporting vaginal infection and discomfort during periods more than once in the last year – and over 42% women suffering from it more than three times.”

While sanitary pads continue to be the product of choice (92%), more modern methods of menstrual hygiene continue to gain ground. About 7% of Indian urban women have switched to tampons and menstrual cups. However, with a majority still relying on traditional methods, periods still manage to steal the peace of mind of more than 70% of the women. Out of these, 22% claimed that they worry a lot about staining clothes. 66% of the women said they felt irritated or depressed during their periods.

This is the third Menstrual Hygiene Survey conducted by Everteen as part of its commitment to create awareness on good menstrual hygiene practices. Its 2017 survey with Women’s Health Organisation revealed that at least 43% of the women did not have ready access to essential sanitary products at the beginning of their periods. As many as 67% of the women have had to borrow such essentials from a friend, colleague or family member. More than 45% felt that menstruation was still considered a taboo in the Indian society, and 36% felt uncomfortable while buying sanitary products from a chemist shop in the presence of other customers.

The 2014 Everteen Menstrual Hygiene Survey revealed that 70% of the married women aged between 25 and 35 years suffered from abnormal discharge at least once in a year, but only 50% were comfortable discussing intimate problems even with their partners. Only 30% of the women said they consulted a gynecologist when they started showing worrying symptoms.

Earlier this year, Everteen donated sanitary products for 50 underprivileged girl performers at a cultural event on women empowerment sponsored by the India’s Ministry of Culture.

A version of this post was first published here.


Featured image used for representative purposes only.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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