Ms Smriti Irani
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Subject – Open letter regarding menstrual hygiene
While making the constitution of India, the makers borrowed the idea of equality from the French Republic. The most important aspect of this was that we did not limit ourselves to equality before the law. We also emphasized the ‘equality of opportunity’ for all groups. But it is a slap on the face of equality that every month, millions of adolescent girls have to face the menstrual cycle of pain, discomfort, shame, anxiety, and isolation just because we treat menstruation as a taboo. On one hand, we claim that all communities shall get equality, but then we simply ignore what all women have to regularly endure just to get on the same platform.
Our society has kept us in the dark for a very long time. We rarely discuss anything about menstruation in families or in schools. Many even consider it to be a female weakness and ban menstruating women from kitchens, crop fields or places of worship, forgetting the fact that without the “weak women”, they never would have taken birth in the first place. Most people, especially in rural areas do not even know that there is a range of products apart from pads for sanitary purposes. And rarely do we find people who know that 28th May is observed as Menstrual Hygiene Day.
It is extremely saddening to see that in many low and middle-income families, access to sanitary products is limited. Girls often resort to using materials such as mud, leaves, socks et al.
Therefore, the only solution to this global dilemma is creating awareness about menstruation and normalizing it. It is an ordinary and regular event that occurs in the life of every healthy adolescent girl. A vast number of women face incurable maladies because through-out generations, they have been made to feel ashamed of themselves and thus, they do not seek any medical help. It thus becomes imperative as a huge amount of numerous women risk their lives not only because of poverty but because of futile stigmas.
Another fact to be considered is that menstrual hygiene clearly qualifies as a necessity of life. Hence, it becomes the duty of governments around the world to adjust prices as well as treat it as a basic amenity for the lesser earning families.
We cannot attain equal opportunities as without the government, the education system and the society contributing towards the cause. It is time to finally abolish the absurd silence and shame that shroud this natural biological event. Menstruation, a sign of good health, must be normalized and celebrated.