#PeriodPaath: Gear Up India Towards Menstrual Hygiene

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Women and girls constitute half of India’s population. Yet, gender disparities remain a critical issue in India impacting women and girl’s education, health and workforce participation. Although statistics revealed improvement in certain aspects of human welfare, but at the same time health cannot be compromised.

Owing to the stigma associated with menstruation,we cannot deny the fact that government is creating awareness among adolescent girls about safe and hygienic menstrual practices. It is now inevitable for government authorities and non-profit organisations to make it a mass movement by involving media too in educating the youth.

The guidelines also call for the sensitisation of men, boys, communities and families about menstruation. In this regards, government should sponsor various Television shows and movies. The success of film ‘Padman’ has contributed to demystifying taboos related to menstruation. These days, undoubtedly, Media is penetrating in lives like anything. Hence,it is advisable that media should ignite the mindsets, thereby, shaping their vision to see a better and informed future. Government authorities should regulate media coverage on social issues rather than playing dirty politics and discussing the lives of celebrities.

Along with the accessibility to the sanitary pads in the rural areas, need for the creation of a sustainable ecosystem must be emphasized. Periodic checks must be made by the government authorities as regards to its quality.

Furthermore, conducting workshops, keeping in mind the inclusiveness of vulnerable populations such as girls living in institutions and streets, and addressing the needs of diverse users is yet another suggestion. Provisions should be made for providing clinical and counselling services on diverse adolescent health challenges including menstruation through trained counselors and experts.

Lastly, investing time and resources on health is the best investment a country can do in terms of Health. Through tax revenue, along with setting up higher benchmarks like probing into the space and exploring , we can also focus on the health, which is equivalent to admiring the beautiful creation of God.

Vanya Narula

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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 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.

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