#PeriodPaath: Those Exile Of Five Days!

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!

I am Jahnavi Kashyap. I study in Delhi Public School.

I am 11 years old and I would like to take your attention towards the major issue of menstrual hygiene. I may be a kid but recently I had come across several girls of my age groups hardly aware of the fact that maintaining menstrual hygiene is as important as washing our hands before eating or cleaning utensils.

I am fortunate enough to be born in a family who are educated and are providing me everything a person is required in terms of knowledge and luxury. I recently have come to know that about 120 million women are roughly suffering from poor menstrual hygiene and 23 million girls drop out of the schools every year when they start menstruating in India, leave the world alone. Nearly 84% of girls are not ready for menstruation, shame leads to poor hygiene. Many of us get panic attacks to see ourselves bleeding. Most of the women and girls think menstruation as some serious contagious disease and separate themselves from the society. In villages, girl or a woman are literally tortured to sit on a wooden plank specially made for menstrual days. Irony is instead of comforting them they are thrown into spell of unnecessary ignorance and superstitions. According to a 2015 study on menstrual hygiene practices around 60% of women are dignosed with common reproductive tract infections reported poor menstrual hygiene. There are many risks also seen by using homemade cloths during menstruation causing vaginitis and urinary tract infections. It seems like a five day exile for women during menstrual cycle. We need to get aware of the importance of the basic hygiene even during menstruation. Not only in villages,but in urban areas also,most of us feel ashamed and keep secrecy around the subject of female reproductive health by hushing each other. There are changes in attitude but they are fewer and mostly among the young. We need to educate the elderly people of the society regarding changes to the usage of sanitary napkins and having iron supplements.

That is impossible without your help. I would like to request Government to help us.

We daughters, We girls, We women need your Support!

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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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