#PeriodPaath: Delhi Will Not Shy Away From Choosing Good Governance And Good Hygiene

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The,

Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi

New Delhi 29th, December 2019

Sir,

Subject: Regarding Menstrual hygiene awareness.

I recently read about the ongoing success of the ‘Delhi ka Dabang’ campaign and because of this success, I would like to make a request.

As we know that Delhi Assembly election is about to be declared and as always it is expected that Election commission will continue to spread awareness about voting rights and voters, just like ‘Delhi ka Dabang’ campaign through many mediums to connect with people of Delhi, but it would be a very kind of you if awareness related menstrual periods can be spread.

I live in East Delhi which has a mix population of semi-urban and urban areas and people of all strata live here, the main issue females face is the taboo associated with talking about the Menstrual cycle. Most of them(including males) feel uncomfortable about discussing it or even in buying sanitary pads. Many think that a piece of cloth can replace the pad.

There are various ways to deal with affordability of sanitary pads, like installation of sanitary machines in girls washroom in school, etc; and these issue has already been taken up by many governments but what is the core issue is the stigma associated with the term ‘Menstrual Periods’ and if can make people aware and comfortable about discussing it then things will improve. It is not the problem of only east Delhi but it is a nationwide issue. During periods girls are forced to skip the school and were not allowed to step outside the home.

As the election is coming, the election commission can take various measures to make people aware of it. It can educate people by associating this issue with the healthy election, this issue can have a place on the hoardings of election awareness, on the voter’s slip and new voter id’s(cover) this issue can be covered. Election commission can use any informative picture or add a punchline related to Menstrual hygiene to spread the awareness. As we know that voting takes place in schools and school teachers are involved in it as BLO also so they can easily make people aware about it, they can educate new voters, they can distribute the voter’s slip along with the leaflet addressing menstrual hygiene and importance of sanitary pads. On voting day also schools can have such hoarding or educative camp regarding this issue.

Once people will start accepting it as a normal health condition then they will not shy away from addressing any issues related to it. They will understand the importance of sanitary pads and under such conditions, the government will be under obligation to address this issue and ensure proper hygiene and availability of subsidized pads.

It is a very important social issue that needs to be addressed, so I request you to consider it and give space to Menstrual awareness in the upcoming election awareness campaign. Involvement of Election commission will impact whole Delhi without any sort of politics, in our country election is considered as the biggest festival of Democracy and if election commission will address this issue then definitely it will bring a much-needed change.

Looking forward to your positive response.

Warm Regards,

Ashutosh Rabindra

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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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