Smt Smriti Zubin Irani,
Hon’ble Minister of Women and Child Development,
Government of India.
Sub: Suggestions regarding making pads easily available.
While the women around the globe are opting for more environment-friendly menstrual products, like cloth pads, tampons, and menstrual cups, most Indian women still don’t have access to products as fundamental as sanitary napkins.
On a planet as contaminated as ours, one would oppose the use of disposable sanitary pads as they frame a considerable share of the plastic waste generation. However, my views changed recently when I came across a report of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16, that revealed 57.6% of menstruating Indian women use sanitary napkins, and others, simply don’t. It would have been a very happy affair if the remaining women were reported to use environmentally viable menstrual products.
Sadly, this is not the case. Now, what exactly do these women use?
They use almost every porous item available under the sun, ranging from cotton cloth to soil and ash. This soil/ash is in direct contact with their private parts. The health hazards due to this practice are obvious and numerous.
Dear Madam Minister, as women, and as human beings, we know nobody likes the touch of lumpy, cold soil on body parts as sensitive as the vagina. However, every month, these women are subjected to this humiliating practice owing to the poor financial health of their families. In India, a single pad costs between INR 5 and INR 12. Every month, a menstruating woman requires at least 8 pads, that too, when she manages to survive the day in as few as 2 napkins for about 4 days. This sums up to INR 40 a month, and INR 480 a year. This would be the cost if the woman just about manages to do with as little available as possible. The statistics and cost of being a woman may and most probably, will vary for each individual. It could as moderate as INR 480 per annum and as high as an annual sum of more than a thousand rupees! For many Indian families, buying a packet of sanitary napkin for the woman means giving up on another necessity in their hand to mouth income.
I suggest you strictly focus on the issue of menstrual hygiene of women. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the health of a family depends on the health of the mother. To build a healthy nation, the first step is to build a healthy family.
I, along with millions of women, would be more than grateful in knowing that each Indian woman is offered a healthy, respectable menstrual cycle.