Smt Kishori Pednekar.
Honourable Mayor of Mumbai
Mumbai – 400001.
Requesting your help for the awareness and betterment of menstrual hygiene in Mumbai.
I write you this letter to draw your attention towards certain pressing issues regarding the menstrual hygiene of women in our community. Due to lack of education and accessibility to affordable sanitary napkins, women have resorted to using cloths (in some cases one cloth is shared by an entire family!) during their period of menstruation. This hasled to sexually transmitted infections, fungal infections, urinary infections, and infertility amongst other problems. In the rest of this letter, I would like to highlight the most pressing issues along with some solutions that I hope we can action on together.
There are three major problems when it comes to menstrual hygiene. Firstly, lack of knowledge of the problems that women may face by using cloths instead of pads. This dearth of information deprives women of making a decision that could impact their lives (for the better) forever. Secondly, the cost of sanitary napkins. Women do not prefer buying pads as they are unaffordable and cheap pads cannot be accessed easily. Lastly, even if we created a system where everyone used sanitary pads, we would still run into the issue of incorrect disposal of these napkins. Women either flush them down the toilet that clogs our drainage system or they throw them on the street. There are many rag pickers, garbage cleaners and street animals that pick encounter there pads up and sometimes open them, which is extremely unhygienic. Proper disposal of pads is also an important part of menstrual hygiene that affects our entire community.
In order to combat the problems highlighted above, we can focus on educating people (not just women) about the benefits of sanitary pads, increase the accessibility to affordable pads , by having vending machines kept at various public area so have easy and affordable access and create a system to dispose these pads in a hygienic manner. We can increase awareness through monthly education camps that inform people about the possible infections caused by poor menstrual hygiene along with the importance of sanitary pads. Moreover, we can ensure to have these camps in the localities native language to improve adoption of our message. It is imperative that we focus on educating both genders to create a supportive environment for women who wish to use sanitary pads.The camps can be conducted by near by college students in presence of their teachers as part of their curriculum.We must have local cable tv as well as tv channel featuring small clips on importance of menstrual hygiene. Furthermore, we could vet several options ranging from setting a price ceiling on pads to subsidizing them and increasing accessibility, in order to make this option viable for families with low income. We must have vending machines providing affordable and easy access to sanitary napkins specially in crowded areas ,corporate companies , schools andcolleges . Lastly, we should install separate dustbins for pads in schools, work-places, slums and other parts of Mumbai that will enable us to collect this waste and dispose it correctly in an incinerator.
To bring to life some of my recommendations above, I talked to She-wings, a non-governmental organization, that is willing to help our cause. They have agreed to set up monthly camps with the objective to educate our community on menstruation and the importance, use and disposal of sanitary pads. In order to incentivize our audience, they will hand out pads to whoever attends the camp. You can help by funding this initiative to financially enable the NGO to give out free pads. We can also work together to start installing separate dustbins for pads throughout Mumbai. I urge you to look into this matter and help foster a healthier, safer and cleaner ‘aamchi Mumbai’. I am confident that our collaboration will result in nothing but a more progressive society with a more hygienic environment for everyone. Last but not the least myself Prajna Wankawalla would whole heartedly put my best foot ahead to bring in the change required in order to respect human life and our environment.
Thank you for your time and I look forward for positive reply from you.
9th grade student.
Featured image courtesy: medium.com