To the Chief Minister of Delhi
I am a resident in Delhi. This is my home, I throughout my life I have stayed here. During my school days, I was intrigued by- why all you hear in a biology class of class 9th is giggles or is sanitary pad is some kind of ammunition which the pharmacy shopkeeper packs in newspaper and then a black bag.
I never understood what was the shame around something as natural as childbirth or even masturbation. Even as an adult- nothing has changed- the shyness and no-conversation about periods and related matters are still there. Moreover, this has led to bigger issues- dumps of non-biodegradable sanitary pads, women ignoring signs of ovarian cancer, low attendance of girls in schools, and the list goes on.
Let’s not deal this as a “code worded problem which the women go through every month for almost 25-30 years of their life”. This is about the dignity of women. And it is not just about her but also each and every being around her.
You are at the most influential post in the government hierarchy- you make policies, bring radical change in systems but my request is much simpler yet basic: Speak up! and Talk about it (Code for periods!)
In your next meeting, next lecture, next poll- say it and address it (to make simpler, even now periods is known as “it”, “that problem”, “women’s issue”)
You can make cheap sanitary pads disposal machines, declare free health check-ups for women, conduct workshops on menstruation. But if the concept of shame is still there-no policy is going to work. It never will be.
The urban, peri-urban and slums divide is quite evident in Delhi. In one part of the city, a girl is googling alternatives to non-biodegradable sanitary pads whereas in the same city another schoolgirl is missing her classes during her menstruation days.
You will not be able to target the sector once you raise- Periods as a campaign wherein health, education, sanitation, environmental aspects will all be combined while breaking the shackles of shame, neglect, and insensitivity.
I hope that the agenda is to challenge the stigma first and then plan the action steps, not the other way around.
Apoorva (Also, I am not PMSing today)