Periods or “that time of the month” can be a mess for many of us. The cramps, backaches, bloating, and crankiness are real. While this applies to over 70% of Indian women, it does not apply to many others. For the Indian woman, lack of toilets, societal stigma, and inability to afford pads are the real issues. A new report published by UNICEF and WaterAid found that a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods. The result is attributed to a lack of access to toilets and pads in schools and no proper education about menstruation.
A report by Dasra suggests that nearly 23 million girls drop out of school annually because of an absence of proper menstrual hygiene management facilities. The drop out is known as period poverty. " Period poverty" is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and, or, waste management. There are various causes of period poverty in India. Women and young girls who menstruate are ostracised from basic activities like eating certain foods or socializing. Many people, still have the notion that women are impure during their periods and so put restrictions on them.
Additionally, due to societal norms, women put the wants of their family, children, husband, and community before themselves. There is water scarcity in most, which adds to their troubles. They end up going days without bathing and reusing their unwashed clothes even during their periods. The same dirty rag and pad are reused, which results in UTIs, diseases, and infections! Another issue is the lack of toilets in villages. Toilets are a basic human need, especially for menstruating women. All these make them feel more ashamed to take care of themselves.
A 2014 UNICEF report pointed out that in Tamil Nadu, 79% of the girls, and women were unaware of menstrual hygiene practices. The percentage was 66% in Uttar Pradesh, 56% in Rajasthan, and 51% in West Bengal. Another study found that 71% of girls, in India report not know about menstruation before their first period. The report also talked about their dominant feelings to be in shock, fear, anxiety, guilt, and frustration. If both the women and men are educated about periods, then their outlook towards them will change, benefiting everybody.
Period Poverty has led to an increase in the dropout rate among girls. On average, girls miss six days of school each month due to the shame surrounding their periods. With minimum access to pads, reusing dirty rags and hay, lack of medical care, and substandard menstrual hygiene, diseases like UTIs may have fatal effects on women. To worsen the situation, pandemics, lockdowns, businesses collapse, and economic collapse, have deprived millions of menstruating women in India of hygienic menstrual practices. Who are already taboo in society.
Menstruation management has worsened during the past few months, especially for women of lower socio-economic class. Schools and colleges are a critical part of the supply chain, providing a pack of pads to girls each month. With them closed, along with other supply chain issues put an immediate stop to the monthly supply of pads that millions of adolescent girls received via their schools.
Do you know that Scotland is the only country across the globe that provides menstrual products free to its citizens? It is high time that the government undertakes some steps and policies to address this issue plaguing India. In June 2010, the Government, of India proposed a new plan towards menstrual hygiene management in India by providing subsidized sanitary napkins to rural adolescent girls, which now needs to be reformed. Sanitary Napkins should be available free of cost for all women. There is a desperate need to bridge the gap between education and awareness.
Proper awareness should be created and made available to girls on the availability and quality of napkins. We must take action by providing much-needed products to girls in India and the world. And we must change our attitude too. We have been silent too long! They deserve safe and private sanitation facilities, and a means for the safe disposal of menstrual waste. They deserve to be girls figuring their future, not challenges such as leakage, odor, discomfort, and difficulty concentrating. Through growth and change, the girls of India will finally find a cause for celebrating womanhood.
"Nearly half of the world sheds blood at birth still you are not known by it? Isn't it strange? Lighten up someone's life today by spreading awareness about menstruation hygiene as it is every human's right.
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