#PeriodPaath: A Reality Check On The Menstrual Health, Hygiene And Awareness In Odisha

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,

Mr Gopal Chandra Nayak,

Additional Secretary,

Women & Child Development & Mission Shakti Department,

Odisha Secretariat, Bhubaneswar,

P.O.: Bhubaneswar GPO,

PIN: 751001, Odisha

Subject – Regarding Status of services for Menstrual Hygiene in Odisha

Dear Sir,

I am writing this open letter to draw your kind attention towards the inferior status of menstruating women in Odisha. Men and Women are the two wheels of the vehicle that need regular maintenance for the vehicle to run smoothly. A state where menstruation is still considered as the biggest taboo that includes sustaining the menstruating woman from moving around freely, touching things, eating certain foods and many more related restrictions in both rural as well as urban areas. It becomes essential to educate society and create awareness among the old as well as the new generation about Menstruation as a natural process rather than those bad days of the month.

The state may have successfully implemented projects like the Mission Shakti, Mamata and others like Mo Gelha Jhio, Swayamsiddha, Nirbhaya Kadhi, Godh Bharai and Surjyamukhi (especially in the Ganjam district). All the above mainly focusing upon the empowerment of Women SHG’s, Pregnant and lactating women as well as marriage-related concerns of women and young girls. Sadly, none of the projects focuses upon the connecting link of Menstrual health, hygiene and awareness among the women in Odisha? As per the reports of the UNDP (Economic and Human Development Indicators) Orissa, the state stands at a rank of 32 out of 35 as per the Gender-Related Development Index (GDI) and 29th out of 35 as per the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) Rank.

The Hindu (2019) reported Odisha in the list of states with high dropout rates from the initial to senior level. The significant barriers that lead to dropout among the females are infrastructural barriers like, lack of toilets, water and sanitation facilities, sustainable methods to dispose of used sanitary napkins, etc. The most significant hurdle that we need to pay heed to are the availability of cheap and clean products that can be substitutes of other sources that may lead to infections and diseases. The state cannot improve itself in the HDI rank if one half of it sits at home Bleeding.

“I usually skip school for 6-7 days every month due to menstruation. The toilets do not have a good water supply and are also very dirty”. – Madhuri, Kalahandi, Odisha

Here are few suggestion to improve the Menstrual health, hygiene and awareness in the state –

  • Develop and implement projects to create awareness about Menstruation among the school, going boys and girls.
  • Interactive sessions with parents as well as elderly family members to create awareness.
  • Implement projects to improve school and public toilets throughout the state.
  • Take initiatives to promote and use cheap and sustainable measures during Menstruation (g., tampons, Menstrual cups, etc.)

Hoping that the letter would be able to attract eyeballs concerned in the field that may help better the situation of women and young girls in the state. As well as expecting some critical changes in the existing plan for women development.

Sincerely,

Sumana Acharya

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