Our ‘Period Talks’ At School Seriously Need An Upgrade!

Period Paath logoEditor’s Note: This article is a part of #Periodपाठ, a campaign by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC, to highlight the need for better menstrual hygiene management among menstruating persons in India. Join the conversation to take action and demand change! The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.

We often think of the injustices that are currently prevailing in our society, but, do we think of the causes behind such discrimination? The discrimination we see now came to life since our birth. The prevailing gender injustices have their roots in our childhood experiences. We do not tend to believe in pre-natal psychology which could teach children many things.

Representational image.

We tend to believe that our regular actions can’t teach children many things. We do not tend to believe that we are constantly engaged in discrimination. Had we been able to, many problems won’t have actually arisen. Talking from the perspective of education, do we think of imparting a gender-neutral education? Or, do we even take any effort to teach the same things to all children? The answer is, of course, no. Schools that have only girls or only boys tend to achieve something which is beyond my rationale and imagination.

The teaching levels are also not equal. When it comes to teaching about menstrual literacy, the first thing is that schools do not teach it and if they do, they only do so for one specific gender. Sending the boys out of the class, in a co-ed school, leaves many unanswered questions in their minds.

Shouldn’t boys also be taught about menstruation? Why send them out of the class? 

This is, one of the instances, where I believe bias becomes the cause of discrimination. This bias, of not teaching students together, leaves many unanswered questions and does not make one gender as sensitive enough to consider a normal biological process as a normal one. At least teach them together and teach the same thing. This is where sensitivity could creep in and make everyone comfortable with the absolutely normal processes, and not make that ‘red spot’ a matter of shame or mockery.

This could eventually lead to the opening up of communication within the family, and communication always shows a way forward.

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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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