#PeriodPaath: Menstrual Hygiene 11

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Menstrual Hygiene

“PERIODS”… the big scary word for every girl. The monthly cycle that gives nightmares to all females on this planet.Hi, I am Jyotmeher Bedi studying in class VI E, in Delhi Public School , Indirapuram As a new comer in this world of menstruation I would like share my feelings and ideas with everyone, using this platform which is “YOUTH KI AWAAZ”.

Menstruation is a natural process but it is still a taboo in Indian   society as it is considered unclean and dirty.  Menstruation and menstrual practice still face many social cultural and religious restrictions which are a barrier in the path of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). 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 work places. Girls and women have very less or no knowledge about reproductive tract infections due to ignorance of personal hygiene during menstruation time. Lack of affordable hygiene products means inadequate, unhygienic alternatives are used, which can present a serious health risk. Girls and women in the workplace often miss work because they don’t have access to sanitary materials and places of employment in some countries don’t provide resources for women or even have proper toilets. A study shows that women in Bangladesh who work in factories have reported that the cost of sanitary products for menstruation which they could not afford, they have resorted to using factory floor rags in place of pads and tampons, leading to dangerous infections and missed work. Often girls do not attend school due to fear of leaking, shame or embarrassment, period pain or inadequate sanitation facilities. There is school absenteeism, missed class time, reduced participation, teasing, fear, shame and risky adoptive behaviors.

Access to safe and dignified menstruation is a fundamental need for women and girls. 28th May is menstrual Hygiene Day a day to speak out about and celebrate Menstruation. Poor menstrual hygiene can negatively affect women’s health. Use of unhygienic means can cause reproductive tract infections, other menstrual disorders like anemia, endometriosis. Regular Menstrual cycle is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. Bad odour is a common result of unhygienic menstrual habit.

When I got my periods, I was at home. I was not aware about it and my mom noticed a stain on my pajamas. She then checked me thoroughly and fixed a pad on my panty and asked me to wear it. At first I was scared but my mom explained to me that this thing that happened to me is very important for my body. She explained to me that there should not be any inhibitions about it and my dad too made me feel comfortable. But she has told me to follow the following points-

  • Used pads should be properly disposed as infected pads can carry infections.
  • Cleaning everytime you use the washroom or change, washing the vagina before you change into a new pad.
  • We should stick to one brand- sanitary napkins.
  • Any change in amount of bleeding or excessive pain should be told to your elders.
  • Proper balanced diet and proper sleep should be taken.
  • Be confident about your body and live with dignity and ease.

Mom showed me the movie PADMAN, which is about Arunachalam Muruganantham , who is a social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu. He is the inventor of a low cost sanitory napkin making machine. He has created awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around rural India. Globally at least 500 million women and girls lack proper access to menstrual hygiene facilities. In India only 1 in every 2 girls have knowledge about menstruation before their first perod.

Even now at times I feel scared, but mom keeps on telling me that it is just like any other normal change happening in my body and there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

At last I would only say that  love your body and take good care of it.

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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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