Upon hearing the word - menstruation, the first thought that comes to our mind may be pain or discomfort a woman faces but the majority of women in India have bigger mountains to climb.
Many women in rural parts of the country do not have access to proper menstrual products such as sanitary napkins. Instead, they use rags, leaves and cloths as menstrual measures. In many parts of the country, girls and women lack the appropriate knowledge of menstruation. Even many young girls have to drop out of schools due to improper sanitary facilities and menstrual options. Due to such conditions, menstruation has become a hurdle to even daily activities in a woman’s life such as praying, working, going to school or college. This has caused a lot of disparities for women leading to gender inequalities. This shows the need for such a topic to be voiced even in this pandemic.
So in the current times, it has become an utter need to educate people, both in rural as well as urban areas. People need to possess adequate knowledge of menstruation and menstrual hygiene, irrespective of their gender. In urban areas, the initial knowledge of menstruation is through advertisements and the hush-hush conversations in the house.
This sets a different view in our mind and this misinformation from our early sources can go a long way for us being misinformed and uneducated on the subject. This is why we need to be more educated, learn more facts and break the myths. This can be simply achieved from having an open, honest conversation about menstruation with women in our own house like with our mother, sisters and grandmother. We learn real facts and real problems from them. We learn to become more educated and mannered towards such topics and women in general.
If we not only as men but as human beings, can accept periods without any stigmas around it and can have an open conversation about it, we have the power to change a lot of issues that women face. We, at Saathi and our Saathi community, have decided to #OwnTheRed and we have decided to make menstruation a normal aspect of life and have conversations on it. Women bleed red and not blue and we need to acknowledge it. #OwnTheRed campaign launched by Saathi is to accept the menstruation process as it is. Menstruation should no longer be considered a taboo and it should be accepted openly. This campaign aims to instil pride in women about their menstruation and own something that is a major part of their life.
Menstruation and the stigma around it seem to be such a minuscule issue in the current times when we are in a pandemic as big as coronavirus but even coronavirus can't stop menstruation for a woman. So, this feels like an apt time where we are free enough to spend time on educating ourselves about menstruation and menstrual issues. These 60 days have caused us a certain level of panic within us and this panic has even increased when menstrual products and hygiene were not considered as an essential product. Government schools have also ceased the supply for sanitary pads and this has caused even more panic because many people can barely afford meals for the day and to think of period products is even harder for them. And in such times, we can spend time educating ourselves and sharing the myth-busting knowledge about menstruation.
Saathi’s initiative called #OneMillionPads Campaign was launched in May 2017. The initiative aimed at providing complete Menstrual Hygiene Management(MHM) to underprivileged women in rural Jharkhand who don't have access to sanitary pads. Saathi partnered with Ekal Vidyalaya and its sister organization Arogya Foundation to provide menstrual hygiene education and provide biodegradable sanitary pads made from banana and bamboo fibre. Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation (literally, Foundation of Solo Schools) is a non-profit organization involved in education and village development in rural areas and tribal villages of India. It is the largest grassroots, non-government education initiative in India with presence in 51,717 villages providing free education to more than one million children.
So, let’s try to be more educated and give more education about menstruation to those in need.
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