#PeriodPaath: The Half-Fought Fight

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The District Magistrate


Subject: Inactive state of government schemes launched to improve menstrual hygiene and sanitation facilities.

Respected Sir,

I am writing to you this letter to highlight the inactive state of schemes launched by the government to tackle the high rate of school dropout among the female students, aged 11-14, years of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The study conducted by ICDS revealed that in UP, Bahraich had the highest number of female students who dropped out of school in the year 2018-2019. The primary reason for the disturbing state of data has been mentioned as the lack of proper awareness and facilities for girls to manage their menstrual hygiene and post-puberty body changes. In response to this news, a multitude of initiatives were taken by MWCD and the Department of School Education and Literacy.

I will mention here a few initiatives taken by the state to improve the menstrual hygiene scenario as per the Swachh Bharat guidelines. The scheme to locally manufacture and sell biodegradable sanitary napkins was launched by the panchayati raj department of UP government in 2018. The napkins were to be distributed through the Aanganwadi centers by the ASHA workers. Suvidha sanitary napkins were made available at Jan Aushadhi Kendras in May 2018 under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna. The price of these sanitary napkins was reduced to ₹1 per piece in August 2019. In addition to this the Department of School Education and Literacy installed vending machines and incinerators in Upper Primary Schools.

Undoubtedly, a huge amount of effort and fund has been invested to ensure the awareness around menstrual hygiene in adolescent girls, availability of low cost biodegradable sanitary products and the methods for their safe disposal. The unfortunate part is, hardly any of it is active at the ground level. After visiting many Aanganwadi centers and interacting with the female students of upper primary schools of the district, I can conclude that only a very small fraction of the above mentioned initiatives is reaching households via awareness sessions that are being conducted at not all but only a few AWCs. This implies that all the efforts are going down the drain while more than 50% of, both, the rural and the marginalized sections of urban community are still using unsafe traditional ways and following superstitious rituals to deal with menstruation.

Thus, I hereby request you that to ensure unhindered education and a healthy life to the adolescent girls of our district, please take no new initiatives but  take strict actions to ensure the implementation of existing schemes and launch extensive awareness and counselling sessions at all the government upper primary schools. Making these schools the awareness and resource centers can encourage the association of the targeted section of the community with the schools also bridging the existing gap between the community and the schools.

Thank you.


Rashi Agarwal


  1. Report of the study conducted by ICDS.
  2. Government Slashes Price Of Sanitary Pads Sold At Jan Aushadhi Stores .
  3. Panchayati Raj department of the UP government is to ensure that subsidised sanitary napkins reach women in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh
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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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