#PeriodPaath: Is India Ready To Become Pad Free?

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To,

Ms. Smriti Zubin Irani

Ministry of Women and Child Development

 

Subject: Demand for intoducing schemes to raise awareness for minimizing the usage of sanitary napkins

 

Respected Ma’am

My name is Nandini Bhardwaj and I am from Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad. My purpose of writing to you is to express my concern on the society’s immutable mindset on the usage of menstrual hygiene products. Today, millions of women and teens still prefer to use sanitary napkins over any other product and this clearly reflects that imparting education regarding menstrual hygiene is the need of the hour.

In almost every sphere of an Indian women’s life, sanitary napkins are heavily desired and endorsed and this is not only because of the lack of awareness and efficient marketing but also due to the fact that using tampons or menstrual cups is still associated with the ludicrous concept of virginity. The scrapping of the GST on the menstrual hygiene products, which had been the subject of fierce outrage from women’s right activists, was a laudable move but period poverty is not the solitary issue anymore.

The problem is the dearth of knowledge and encouragement in households, schools and various institutions on giving attention to menstrual hygiene. Moreover, only a few people are aware of the health hazards of using these commercially sold napkins and sadly absorption and cost are the only two factors taken into consideration during their purchase. The matter in question is when the society would be ready to break this old practice of using Pads and switch to using alternative products.

Even though they are convenient to use, the awareness about tampons and menstrual cups is little to none and the cretinous myths regarding their usage are without any exception prevalent. In my opinion, the state’s backing on the endorsement of such products is the need of the moment.

One of the pressing priorities for this nation is to ensure a healthy and hygienic lifestyle for its female population and that can be achieved through the introduction of schemes aiming to destigmatize the issue. They would work to promote the consumption of products which serve as alternatives to sanitary napkins. I believe that such schemes would have the potential to bring about a positive change in the mindsets of people as well as they would serve as tools to help women grow as strong individuals in our society.

Sincerely,

Nandini Bhardwaj

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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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