To Gautam Gambhir,
Member of Parliament – East Delhi
CC: East Delhi Municipal Corporation
Subject – Making provisions for access to affordable sustainable menstruation products in public spaces
Access to affordable sustainable menstrual products is a privilege in India. Even though there are inclusion of multiple Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) facilities in the Swachh Bharat Mission guidelines (SBM-G), nonetheless the implementation of the policies even in the urban areas of the capital city Delhi is abysmal.
According to a report by WaterAid, there are 336 million menstruating women in India and only 121 million (36%) of them use sanitary pads.
121 million x 8 pads/cycle = 1 billion pads/ month = 12 billion pads/year
If I draw mathematical similarities to East Delhi, the population of women is around 8 Lakhs (Census 2011) and assuming only 36% have access to sanitary pads the number will be 288,000.
288,000 x 8 pads/cycle x 12 months = 27,648,000 (2.76 Crore Pads)
2.76 Crore pads in the form of menstrual waste is being generated annually by the women of East Delhi. (This is an approximation and the number can be significantly higher)
HEALTH CHALLENGE – The MHM policy guidelines under SBM also mention only sanitary napkin vending machines, which are technically health hazard for both adolescent girls and women since they are made of 90% plastic. Sanitary napkins contain banned toxic carcinogenic compounds which leads to diseases like UTIs, STIs and cervical cancer.
ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE – They are not only harmful for the menstruators, but also contribute the immense menstrual waste which end up in landfills like Ghazipur. A sanitary pad takes around 500-800 years to decompose, posing severe threat to the environment and future generations. There is a Menstrual Health Alliance India report that mentions, how 45% of menstrual waste often ends up with the general household waste and increased burden of Solid Waste Management by the administration.
I was content with conducting workshops with few groups of people on sustainable menstruation until I heard about the municipality of Kerala that was distributing menstrual cups to women for free. They have committed to reaching 5000 women and their entire female population to curb the menace of menstrual waste creation and management.
I am writing this letter to request you to voice the issue and take relevant actions regarding;
If East Delhi can create Pink Toilets with all provisions under the Swachh Bharath Mission while also including affordable access to Sustainable Menstrual Products (Reusable Cloth Pads and Menstrual Cups) it will;
If you are reading this letter and connect with the cause of better health for women and adolescent girls as a basic right, please support my petition on Change.org with your signature.