10 Years On: Why Menstrual Hygiene Management Still Matters

10 Years On: Why Menstrual Hygiene Management Still Matters

This year, May 28 marks ten years of the existence of Menstrual Hygiene Day, which highlights the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management - or the lack thereof. Close to 2 billion people worldwide menstruate each month, which accounts for a few hundred million each day - and yet menstrual hygiene and reproductive health still remain stigmatized, underrepresented, and misunderstood. 

Menstrual Hygiene Management comprises four components: Awareness, Access, Use, and Waste Management. The lack of development in all four of these categories is what is keeping the narrative of MHM around the world so slow. Let us address these one by one:



Awareness refers to the socio-cultural aspects and norms surrounding menstruation, which are built by one’s personal experiences in family, school, and social surroundings. In the present day and age, information on social media and the internet also has a significant impact on this. According to a report called ‘Spot On! Improving Menstrual Hygiene in India’ by Dasra - 70% of menstruators consider their periods to be ‘dirty’, even after all the information available everywhere, thus propagating more silence over the issue. It is imperative to understand that menstruation is a normal bodily process! Almost 50% of young menstruators don’t even know about periods before they get their first one (1). And of course, the lack of information doesn’t end there, it goes on and on with superstitions like not taking a shower during menstruation, not entering the kitchen, or not being in the same house as others. This may not be a reality for many urban folk, but it is for many tribes and rural communities. 



The second pillar to be tackled is access to menstrual hygiene products. Statistics go on to show that more than half of the menstruators in India don’t have access to pads or proper sanitary products. The problem goes deeper, as even if products are provided - there is a lack of clean toilets, proper water supply, and privacy to take care of one’s body during menstruation. Bodily hygiene is very important to be taken care of, especially during periods. So, when half the menstruators don’t even have access to basic sanitation, then the narrative of MHM for everyone is a far cry.



The next pillar of MHM is the use of products. This refers to the use of menstrual hygiene products - which doesn’t just mean menstrual products, but also sanitation resources and maintenance of one’s own hygiene. Individuals aren’t taught how to use menstrual products properly, or how to maintain proper hygiene during it - and because of the lack of the narrative in normal conversations, these misconceptions always go unresolved. People who’ve used leaves and rags as pads, get intimidated by disposable pads when they’re introduced to it; that hesitance is never addressed and hence the goal to normalize MHM is difficult to achieve.


Waste Management

This is a global issue, with folks from all strata of society. Once all the previous pillars are attained, and even if everyone is taught how to use the menstrual products of their choice - disposing them is a major obstacle. Because commercial pads contain plastic, that is a burden to the planet. And most landfills and fields end up being a dumping ground for these pads creating a plastic pollution problem. Biodegradable options such as Saathi pads can be composted instead addressing the plastic pollution problem. Proper composting conditions including using microbes and worms will ensure best results. 

Normalizing menstruation is a dynamic and systemic change, but all these changes begin on a grassroots level - in our homes. Information and knowledge can only be imparted if there are open minds to accept it, and hence all this positive cascade begins with tackling the stigma and taboos in the society. Menstruators ought to empower each other and make each other confident and smart about normal biological processes. And then the consequent step is to involve influencers like family, friends, school, and officials into this narrative and make all societies and communities period friendly. 

But what would a period friendly world look like? Tune into our blog next week to find out more! 

Till then - Let us join hands, educate, talk, discuss, and make periods normal, safe, and happy!


(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26936906/

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