Menstrual Hygiene Day | Challenges and Saathi's Impact
Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed to bring together all the people, no matter what occupation, gender, social status, to win the battle of the negative stigmatization with respect to PERIODS. Although puberty hits everyone, regardless of gender, it is changes like Periods and mental health that disguise in the shadow of Taboo.
The Menstrual Hygiene Day is celebrated on 28th May every year to break these taboos and provide proper sanitation to women. Moreover, it has been chosen with the notion that Periods occur about every 28 days for 5 days i.e. 28/5. Hence, a more than perfect date!
It was back in 2014, when WASH United (a German based NGO) started Menstrual Hygiene Day and since then, it has grown into an influential movement, with more than 420 partner organisations joining hands globally.
In 2019, there were 724 on-the-ground events (up 44% from 2018), 114,000 contributions on social media (up 154% from 2018), 2,240 features in digital media (up 245% from 2018) and more than 314,000,000 people reached (up 144% from 2018).
As of 2020, around 4,141 articles about menstrual health and hygiene were published in online media, 151,000 contributions were generated on social media, 411 million people were reached, more than 225 live-streams and other online events and campaigns were organised around MH Day 2020.
In India, people still have a lot of preconceived notions or misconceptions related to menstruation.
In rural parts of the country, PERIODS are perceived as ‘impure’ and ‘dirty’ and therefore, women are propelled to stay isolated during these 5-7 days within their home. In addition to this, women are not allowed to go inside the temples, the kitchen or even touch anything as menstruation is still considered a hush affair which is not to be spoken loudly, especially, in the presence of any male. Still, there are men who do not prefer to go to any pharmacy to purchase sanitary napkins for their female partner or any female family members. Sanitary pads are still given in black plastic bags or wrapped up in newspaper pieces from the pharmacy stores. Sanitary pads or any female hygiene products are associated with ‘shame’, ‘neglect’, ‘ignorance’, ‘it’s not that important’, etc.
Looking into the taboo and misconceptions associated with menstrual health, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has taken up this cause seriously and have been promoting Menstrual Hygiene Day. They have been actively posting about it on their social media platforms and have introduced a National Hygiene scheme. Under this scheme, the government aims to bring awareness among young adolescent girls regarding the importance of menstrual hygiene. It is initiatives like these that encourage people to break free from the social stigmas surrounding Periods.
As per the current scenario in India, out of the total 336 million women menstruating in India, only about 121 million (roughly 36 percent) women have access to sanitary napkins, locally and commercially produced (National Family Health Survey 2015-2016). In accordance with this, a 2016 study titled – ‘Menstrual hygiene management among adolescent girls in India’, revealed that out of the 100,000 girls surveyed in India, almost 50,000 did not know about menstruation until the first time they got their period. Furthermore, many girls even think that they are dying or have caught a horrible disease, the first time they menstruate, due to the pain and blood.
As a result of lack of menstrual hygiene management facilities, including availability of sanitary napkins and awareness about menstruation, twenty-three million girls in India drop out of school annually.
Especially in rural areas, maintaining hygiene is a challenge in itself. Hence, some of the hygiene practices to be followed during periods could be:
- Change sanitary napkin every 4-6 hours
- Wash your undergarments properly or separate the ones used for these 5-6 days
- Discard the used sanitary napkin properly, especially in public places
- Keep yourself neat and clean by taking a bath daily
- Wear clean and dry undergarments
Therefore, it is just a matter of time when everyone will get on board with talking about periods just like any other natural phenomenon, so that no woman has to fight this taboo anymore and deal with it like a real problem and need.
At Saathi, we host sustainable menstruation workshops in urban areas like the one we are hosting this Menstrual Hygiene Day with Hope for the Planet Foundation. Do join us if you are available at 4pm IST! If you would like to collaborate with us please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We also host workshops on the menstrual cycle for women in under-served areas. In addition to workshops and raising awareness, we are also collaborating with our NGO partners Tattv Bodh Foundation in India and Project Kilimanjaro in the US to provide biodegradable sanitary pads to up to 5000 women in under-served areas for a year. If you are looking for a way to make a direct impact and help provide pads to under-served women in India, please consider contributing to or sharing our campaign with Tattv Bodh and Project Kilimanjaro. You can make a tax deductible donation in India via GiveIndia and a tax deductible donation in the US via GoFundMe. The GoFundMe campaign also accepts donations from many countries outside of India and the US. We are joining hands in this battle for women empowerment and are providing affordable and compostable pads to rural women.
Last but not the least, MHM day is a day that brings awareness to the world about menstrual hygiene practices a woman must be exposed to during her cycle, no matter rural or urban. Nonetheless, such practices should not be confined to this day, instead, it should be a beginning towards the primary goal of overcoming period taboos and empowering women across the globe.
Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNESCO Green Citizens project, St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
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