#PeriodPaath: It’s Nothing To Be Ashamed About!

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To,

Dr Harsh Vardhan

Sub: EDUCATE & EMPOWER PEOPLE ABOUT MENSTRUAL HYGIENE.

“More than 800 million women worldwide are having a period. None of us would exist without it and yet it remains one of our most firm biological taboos.” It’s interesting that so much embarrassment, awkwardness, and shame surround a natural-biological function experienced by half the population at some point in their lives.

With the progressing world, India too has progressed a lot. In terms of education, infrastructure, literacy, etc. But there’s one thing in which all the countries and especially India, which has a major rural population of 68.86% is lagging behind is talks about menstrual hygiene management.

The general feeling was that periods are a taboo, even among women, and that we should learn to speak more openly about them. Around the world, and throughout history, women have been shamed, seized, and medicalised for bleeding regularly. But why are periods considered a taboo? From our ancient past, talking about periods has never been considered as an important topic. When men and women hear the word ‘period’ they start shivering or try to change the topic. More than half the population in India fears to talk about their menstrual health with their parents or friends. It is considered a curse to a woman, without realising that it is not a curse rather a boon because of which we all are alive!

In the absence of proper sanitary supplies, many Indian women and girls end up using rags during their periods—and just stay home.

Meghan Markle, the Queen od Sussex, does the math and notes that if girls are absent from classrooms during their periods, they stand to miss up to 145 days of school a year.

menstrual practices still face many social, cultural, and religious restrictions which are a big barrier in the path of menstrual hygiene management. In many parts of the country especially in rural areas, girls are not prepared and aware about menstruation so they face many difficulties and challenges at home, schools, and workplaces.

Girls, mostly the ones from rural India have to face more problems during periods. Girls have very less or no knowledge about reproductive tract infections caused due to ignorance of personal hygiene during menstruation time.  They have limited access to pads because of orthodox thinking of family, unable to afford sanitary products or are not allowed to buy pads/sanitary napkins and thus have to use cloth strips, leaves, etc, which causes more infection than protection.

Needs and requirements of the adolescent girls and women are ignored despite the fact that there are major developments in the area of water and sanitation. Women manage menstruation differently when they are at home or outside; at homes, they dispose of menstrual products in domestic wastes and in public toilets and they flush them in the toilets without knowing the consequences of choking.

So, there should be a need to educate and make them aware of the environmental pollution and health hazards associated with them.

Therefore, we can say that we should sensitize people around us and make them more sensitive about this issue. “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” –Carl Rogers

Let’s be the change and hope for responsive actions taken by the government.

 

PRERNA, CLASS X

TAGORE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, VASANT VIHAR

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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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