#PeriodPaath: Accessible Menstruation

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To

Smt. Imarti Devi 

Minister, Women and Child Development

Madhya Pradesh

 

Sub: Making Menstrual Hygiene Affordable and Accessible for Women In MP

 

Respected Madam

 

38.3% of Madhya Pradesh’s population is below the poverty line. 72.3% of the population lives in rural regions. The female literacy rate of our state is 59.2%.

Together, these three facts are the reason why a major portion of our female population does not have access to safe and hygienic menstrual products.

 

It is extremely important that women, both young and old have access to safe menstrual hygiene products as it reduces illnesses like UTIs, RTIs and even certain forms of cancer.

 

My plea to you today is, as the Minister of Women and Child Development for Madhya Pradesh, you can change the lives of thousands of women who do not have access to menstrual hygiene products. I ask you to use the resources and power you have to do that.

 

I propose a two-pronged method to combat the accessibility issue. 

 

Firstly, make products like pads more affordable. This can be done by investing in startups like Sukarma Foundation, founded by Maya Vishwakarma, that not only make affordable pads but also employ rural women to make them. Maya, who is from Narsighpur District, has talked about how she herself did not know about pads until she was 26. By investing in her foundation, you would be empowering a woman entrepreneur. You would also be investing in a community where women do not have access to education, or the ability to earn for themselves. The ripple effects of more and more women being employed by this foundation will be felt for generations to come.

 

The second and more important measure is education, but not of just young women. Studies have shown that family support is very crucial. It is a must to educate all family members, not just young girls about menstruation and menstrual hygiene. Otherwise low cost or free pads are just a bandaid where sutures are needed. After all, if Menstruation is considered a curse from the Gods (15% adolescent girls in MP consider this to be true) then handing out free pads is not going to protect women from the consequences of poor menstrual hygiene. It is extremely essential that all family members know about menstruation so that none of them can shame young girls about a natural bodily function.

 

Madam, I implore you to consider the steps I have talked about and talk to smarter, more experienced women like Maya Vishwakarma to outline a path to provide access to safe menstrual hygiene products to women like me in our state who are less fortunate.

 

Sincerely,

Lavanya Rana

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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
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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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