Menstruation has again come to the spotlight, highlighting how deeply ingrained societal expectations around menstruation limit girls’ rights and negatively impact their wellbeing. There are over 355 million menstruating women in India, but millions of women face major barriers to a safe and adequate menstrual hygiene management (MHM) experience.
One solution which was offered was sanitary pads. According to reports, in India, just 57.6% of women use sanitary napkins, and 23 million girls drop out of school each year after their periods begin. Many girls do not have the privilege to buy/use pads. The movie Pad Man was instrumental in igniting discussions around cycles and positioning sanitary pads as the saviour.
We recognise sanitary pads as a hygienic choice for millions of girls and women to handle their periods in this blog.
Menstrual health is critical to a woman’s health and the health of her family and society. However, mindsets, traditions and institutional prejudices frequently prevent women from receiving the menstrual health care they need, particularly in developing countries. Menstrual hygiene is also one of the most difficult development challenges today.
Menstruation is linked to the beginning of puberty in girls and it often brings with it rules, limits, loneliness and a shift in society’s perceptions of girls. This shift in attitude toward girls, which includes constraints on self-expression, education, mobility and independence, has far-reaching implications for women’s mindset.
Menstrual hygiene management programmes aim to ensure that girls and women can handle their periods in a sanitary manner while also receiving health, education and other benefits. To achieve this aim, we need to increase menstrual hygiene knowledge and education and access to healthy products and responsive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure.
Although several programmes discuss some of these concerns, we must focus our efforts on better understanding the menstrual hygiene product environment and waste management issues. Menstrual health and hygiene would be impossible to achieve without this holistic approach.
In Indian culture, menstruation is still regarded as a taboo topic. Even today, cultural and social pressures make it difficult to ensure that teenage girls receive adequate education on menstrual hygiene. Mothers are hesitant to discuss puberty and menstruation with their daughters and many of them lack scientific information on the topic.
Women are not allowed to participate in regular activities during their menstrual periods. These days, they are not permitted to enter the space. Before a woman is allowed to return to her space, she must be “purified”, meaning she must refrain from performing any rituals. She is not permitted to enter the kitchen or a shrine for the length, and anything she touches will “go bad” or rot. However, the fact is that the woman is going through a normal and balanced biological phase.
Apne Aap is a one-of-a-kind movement aimed at empowering women to be changemakers in their communities. The NGOs goal is to provide information and awareness about menstrual health and hygiene to children, women and men, and free sanitary pads, as part of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene campaign (WASH). It also aims to raise awareness about proper sanitisation, which is a pressing issue in India.
Integrated awareness, inspiration, and meditation programmes will be used to achieve the goal of this holistic sensitisation NGO and provide know-how on dealing with the topic of menstruation, improving girls’ knowledge of personal hygiene and boosting their morale by answering their questions through interactive and engaging training methods.
By Ahmedabad University Students
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