#PeriodPaath: Movement Of Awareness And Cleanliness

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To

Health Minister of Madhya Pradesh(MP),

Mr Tulsi Silawat

Respected Sir,

First of all, I extend my greetings to you for your valiant promise to bring an end to the scarcity of doctors and provide doctors at each village in the time to come. I urge to attract your attention to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), significance of which is often weighted less among other prevalent issues. In an attempt to make you aware of why MHM is essential, I would like to present some facts:

  • Smirti Irani , Central Minister of textiles and women and child development, mentioned in an article, published on Jan 3, 2020 in Dainik Jagran, a Hindi news paper, that 40% ladies in India are suffering from one or the other infection due to their failure to maintain required cleanliness during menstruation.
  • In India, almost 23 million ladies drop out of school on first menstruation cycle owing to unawareness and social beliefs.
  • Almost 74,000 ladies die of cervical cancer, caused by repetition of HPV infection during Menstruation, which is 33% of the total such deaths occurred across world.

Awareness on MHM can’t be raised to the masses unless every state plays a significant role in improving the situation. I would like to point out why as a state, we are required to take into it consideration of MHM.

  • Even though MP is not the most populous state, it does possess most people from schedule tribes (ST) community in India, who are deemed most deprived of basic facilities and education. It is our duty to make them aware about it.
  • The state is having less literacy rate than that of country’s.
  • According to World Bank, the economic contribution of Indian women is 17%, which is even less than half of global. We, being a developing state, will be largely benefitted economically and socially if proper means and facilities are provided to women in the state.
  • As the state is located in middle, connected well to large states, of the country, we have all the resources and geographical benefits to lead by example, turning it into a mass movement and inspire other states to replicate.

Not more than 10% women in rural areas know about sanitary napkins, they use unprotected during menstrual cycle. Social beliefs prevalent in the society about menstruation often prevent an open discussion about it in society, leading an unhealthy environment in society. Adolescent girls often feel fearful and ashamed to open up to it since they are made to feel or declared impure during period. Discrimination with women in this period often leads to an extent where they start losing confidence and keeping it to themselves at the same time. I have a few suggestions to make, which, I am sure, will help improve the situation at a broader level.

  • Surveys say that 67.7% of workplaces fail to provide sanitary napkins. The state should pass directives to make them do it compulsorily.
  • The availability of public and private toilets should be increased; cleanliness and availability of water needs to be maintained.
  • Workshops should be organized in rural areas, slums, schools and outskirt areas to spread awareness about menstrual cleanliness, bust myths associated with their social beliefs and encourage people to communicate at home to bring about a sense of comfort in their daughter.
  • Sanitary napkins should be distributed among women who can’t afford it, and, at the same time, the government should control the high prices charged by private companies to relieve the middle class women.
  • It may be observed that during lessons about period or sexual awareness, teachers seem to avoid teaching and command students to either leave the topic or study themselves. Hence, when teachers are trained, there should also be inclusion of the ways to get rid of shyness in them which prevent students from knowing importance of it.
  • The government should also lay emphasis on the use of reusable products like cloth pad and menstrual cup which effectively help in reducing garbage caused by sanitary napkins; incinerators are required to be installed in public toilets to maintain cleanliness.
  • To reduce the discriminatory practice, fine should be imposed on those who hurl abuses or demoralize a woman in any way during menstrual cycle.

I fully repose my confidence in you that you will take into accounts solutions offered by me.

Sincerely,

Pourush Gupta

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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.

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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