#PeriodPaath: Awareness Campaign And Festivities For Change

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To

Smt. Geeta Kora
Honourable Member of Parliament
Chaibasa constituency

Subject:-awareness campaign for challenges to menstrual hygiene.

Respected madam,

Being a resident of your constituency I am writing this letter to draw your attention toward a very serious issue associated with the majority population of the district.

A study conducted by UNICEF in Jharkhand revealed that 70% of adolescent girls have limited or no knowledge about menstruation until they attain menarche. Another report by the ministry of health and family welfare, the NFHS 2015-16 had reported that in Jharkhand only 49.6% of women age between 15-24 use hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual period.

When a girl reaches her menarche, she needs a nutritious diet and guidance for sanitary practices, but girls in the rural areas are deprived from the basic need. Myths and taboos are another issues which women suffers in the villages. They aren’t allowed to enter the kitchen or worship in temples. The girls in rural area relay on old clothes instead of sanitary napkins due to unaffordability. Use of unhygienic clothes for longer hours leads to fungal infections, reproduction tract infections , urinary tract infection and can also lead to infertility in severe cases. The fear of displacement or leakage of menstrual clothes leads the girls to escape their school and also livelihood practices in the region. Studies shows that the reason behind these issues is lack of knowledge on menustration and myths associated with it.

To address the challenges and take necessary steps to eradicate the above issues I request you to conduct an action based campaign for awareness of the young girls, women and also the men of society regarding scientific rational behind menstruation, debunking the myths associated with it and guiding hygienic practices of using sanitary napkins, menstrual cups and clothes in the entire constituency of Chaibasa. Raising awareness is a critical first step of embarking on a public campaign as without awareness people can be misinformed, misled, or even completely unaware of the health challenges they face.

For the action based campaign we need to be backed by proper infrastructure for addressing the challenges. We have to rely on community health workers to implement the strategies at the ground level. Organisations like WSSCC, Goonj and Menustrupedia have significantly work in improving the menstrual hygiene conditions better in India. Their expertise and guidance in design and implementation of the menstrual hygiene awareness campaigns will be significant. We should mobilize youth by providing them volunteering / internship program for supporting the health workers to reach schools in every Panchayat and support them with their zeal and energy for maximum participation.

We can also break the social stigmas associated with menstruation by organising the festival of Raja widely which is celebrated the Odiya and tribal community of the district. The festival which marks the significance of beginning of the menstrual cycle of mother earth where girls are women and young girls do not take part in cooking and instead, eat sweets, play games and celebrate. Men also take part in this festival, which happens around the end of June. This can be a large scale platform to eradicate the social stigmas and involve everyone in celebration the process on menstruation.

You are a role model for the youth in the district for being the first women to represent our tribal constituency in the Lok Sabha.  You leadership in taking the campaign initiatives and providing logistic support to the campaign will help a lot of girls and women to come out from the stigma and challenges associated with menstruation. Aware and healthy girls and women of our land will contribute in the development of the state and make us proud like our very own Sumita Kumari and Rimil Biruli did in archery at international level.

 

Sincerely,

Vivek Kumar

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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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