#PeriodPath: Break The Stigma For All

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #Periodपाठ writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning up to ₹30,000! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!

To the Chief Minister of Delhi

Respected Sir, 

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.

Period. 

Regards,

Apoorva (Also, I am not PMSing today)

Similar Posts

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below