#PeriodPaath: Menstrual Hygiene And Awareness

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!

Ms Meenakshi Lekhi

Subject: Regarding women’s access to menstrual products and menstrual hygiene.

Respected Madam,

This letter is a story, it is a story that millions of women share. It has been around for a long time and yet it has not really been heard. So, I am writing you this letter to draw your attention towards the lives women from different corners of the country lead.

Many girls growing up, just like me, have been forced to view mensuration from the society’s point of view and after staring through that lens for almost five years I have realized something very important. I have realized, that its time we address the taboo that has been coming along with menstruation for so many years. Its time that no woman again ever has to shove a menstrual product down her pocket as if carrying a contraband. Its time we take a stand against all the looks and judgement that women get while menstruating.

After we address the issue of taboo in our society, only then we’ll be successful into moving onto an issue of even greater magnitude, the issue of menstrual hygiene. Women in many areas of our country have already been victims of it.
Our newspapers are filled with stories about women suffering from various menstrual infections and diseases which have had a drastic effect on their health. I remember reading about one such story of a twelve year old girl named Bholi, who suffered from a reproductive tract infection because she didn’t have access to proper menstrual products and was forced to rely on substitutes such as cloth and sand.

There are many girls just like Bholi all over the country, who’s voices and cries for help dont even reach our ears. How disappointing and heart breaking is that ? Many girls are a part of devastating statistics such as these which say that only 18% women have access to proper sanitary products and of that only 2 to 3% women in Rural area are estimated to use sanitary products. Isn’t it time that we do something to change these statistics and bring light into the lives of women who have been living in the dark for too long ? We are in a desperate need for a wave of progress to eradicate this problem.

This issue impacts a lot of women and we cant turn a blind eye anymore. It requires all our attention and all the resources we can afford to use. Especially, when it has also forced approximately 23 million girls to drop out of school. It has caused women to sacrifice their knowledge, all because they dont have access to resources that they should have had in the first place.

Are we just going to sit and wait till this problem escalates and is out of control ? We have to make some decisions that will change the way that this issue has manifested itself in our society.
But how do we take a step towards a country where all women are not suffering through the hands of poor menstrual hygiene ? The main answer to solve these problems is by conducting workshops which will help inform many young women about mensuration. The root of most problems is lack of awareness and how people are not aware of how they can change their lives for the better. So, if we introduce both men and women to menstrual health then we will slowly see a change paving its way in our society. During these workshops, people will be introduced to every aspect of mensuration, ranging from menstrual health to the myths related to it. Women will also be given kits which will help them during menstruation. Moreover, we are in dire need of drives which will distribute various menstrual products to women living in Rural areas and provides them with reusable pads or other menstrual products which are environmentally friendly.

Solutions such like these will help us in laying the building blocks for a better society that helps its women by changing their lives. I hope this letter made you realize that this an all hands on deck situation which can only improve if we have your support. We need to give this issue the attention and the resources it deserves to get.

Thank you for your time

Yours Sincerely

Vidushi Sahni

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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.

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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
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