#PeriodPaath: We Bleed Since That’s Our Identity

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!


The Muncipal Commissioner

Cuttack Muncipal Corporation


Sub: Right to menstrual Hygiene is every woman’s birth right

Dear Sir,

Menstruation is a common biological phenomenon among all woman. However, before heading towards the issue, i would like to brief about few things with regard to menstruation. Public health is your duty and our right. Menstrual hygiene is an inevitable part of menstrual cycle which is no where given the importance which it ought to get.

Women after attaining puberty, lack information regarding menstruation. Its their own body yet they are told to act like as if it’s a disgusting thing which creates a burden for themselves as well s their families. The taboo following menstruation is so common that it is a part and parcel of every woman’s life and those who dared to go against the norms are treated as untouchables. That’s where the issue lies normalized behaviour towards taboo and superstition.

When is the education system be enough graded to uplift the basic condition of the woman? This is a accepted fact that woman fighting for their own rights majorly become targeted victims of societal degradation leading to failure of the ultimate goal. When are the men going to acknowledge their sensitivity towards the biological disruption on-going in woman’s life?

Hygiene comes at a later stage, first of all majority of woman fail to have information regarding menstruation until they have one and even after, that they just ill-logically follow their mothers, who themselves are victims of taboos.

When it comes to second issue, it is the hygiene or we can tell the awareness about hygiene. Half of them are not aware, or even if they are aware they cannot afford the costly hygiene products. Where are we heading to progress, when the women’s health is not a part of public health especially when it comes to menstruation. We tend to normalize the taboo where as  we ought normalize the process and tell, the women it’s absolutely okay to bleed and continue your normal life as per your feasibility. But actually, onset of menstruation calls for not cooking, not entering the house or temple, or even asked to stay secluded away from the house in a different room or place.

Untouchability is banned in India, however women do not belong to that criteria so laws go silent when such practices over-power the laws in India. These all mentally and physically affect a woman, but these are never talked about when public health policies are discussed. All we do is bring on a cheaper pads that to bad in quality and in the name of women welfare, distribute it . Even that is un-affordable by many and those continue with old practices.

Periods is not about sanitary pads, ya it is an integral part of the cycle but everything. And, that’s what the law-makers and authorities fooling the women to show that they do owe a sense of responsibility ought to understand.

Yes, it’s education and making things affordable and reachable for the masses to acknowledge the fact that in every state a woman is pure as equal as men, whether they bleed or not. Education does not taking a degree, it’s about inculcating and igniting the minds not to follow the practices blindly, instead consult a doctor for every woman within the sphere of reach, on attaining the age of puberty.

Since, Sir, you have been able to hold on to position of authority, you can start this change of awareness. Had it been a condition of men, this society had flaunted it as a symbol of man-hood and such struggles would not have been even discussed. Even before maternity life, the stage of menstruation enters a woman’s life which equally needs care and protection of her womanhood to have a disease free life.

Let’s take a step to ignite the minds of men to be sensitive first that the issue exists and should be eradicated. Every means of awareness to be used to reach out to men as well as women to accept the issue of ignorance towards menstruation and step ahead for a hygienic womanhood. The agencies and the factors used and helped in eradication of small-pox and polio, similarly reaching out to lower scale of society in the similar way , will sooner or latter eradicate the society of this issue.

Being a girl student, I know the periodic torture and tension that I go through so I wrote this letter to you believing that it is better late than never and it is high time for  a change. Issues are lot more Sir and I can go on and on but as per my research the root of the issue lies in the Awareness and Sensitivity of Men towards it, and thus, that’s where the process of eradication must start off with.  BLEEDING IS NATURE’S GIFT TO MANKIND:SO,HEY MAN TREAT IT WITH DIGNITY.

Yours faithfully,

susmita rath

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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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